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Keeping a Church Prayer List

July 27, 2011 in Administration, Church, Leaky Jar, Tech, Tutorial

Although many of us rebel against the notion of keeping an organized list of something as personal, spiritual, and intimate as prayer needs, faithful congregational ministry often requires administrative effort to bring cosmos out of the chaos. In an effort to help churches begin keeping an organized prayer list (or to move to a new format if their old version isn’t quite doing it), I am sharing the following tutorial for using Google Docs (a totally free resource that allows you to give access to documents to only the people who should have it) to create such a  list.


Creating Your Google Docs Spreadsheet Prayer List:

1. You will need a Gmail account. If you do not have one, you will be glad that you need one for this, as Gmail will blow away whatever e-mail service you are currently using. If you need an account (they are free), sign up for one at Gmail.com

2. Use the Prayer List Template. If that link does not work, search for “Prayer List Template” here.

3. Be sure to Save the spreadsheet to your account.

4. Start filling in information as you get it. Please note, on the bottom of the spreadsheet you will find the tabs for all the sheets in this template, where you can also record information about prayers for Evangelism, Records of Deaths, and Answered Prayers.

Where to find the tabs

5. Once you have entered your data, you will probably find it useful to sort it. Although you can easily sort it by any of the columns, I recommend sorting by Date. To do this:

  • Select the empty square to the left of A and above 1.

The empty square next to A and 1

  • Click Data and select Sort Range
  • Select Data has header row checkbox (this tells it that you have titles in Row 1 that you don’t want sorted)
  • In the Sort By drop-down menu, select Date Requested (note: your Date Requested data should be imported consistently in the m/d/yr format)
  • If you want it to sort by more conditions, click +Add another sort option and select the item you would like to sort by secondarily
  • Click the Sort button
  • Unfortunately, you will need to do this individually for each of the tabs in the template, and you will will need to use this sorting command every time you want to sort your list, as Google Docs does not make it easy to autosort. On the bright side, if you sort by date descending as suggested, you can simply add new requests at the bottom of your list as they are made and they will already be in chronological order.

6. Assuming that you would like this prayer list to be available to multiple church members, staff members, elders, prayer team members, etc., you will want to use the sharing function.

  • Click File then Share
  • Enter the e-mail addresses of whomever you would like to have access to the file (note: You will want to remember that there will be personal information in the list that probably should not be made available to the whole world or even the whole congregation, so it is best to grant permissions sparingly. You can always use this database to provide the information for a public prayer list that doesn’t go into all the details)
  • You can grant these people permission either to simply see the document or to edit it.
  • Click Close when you are done

7. Just like that, you are on your way to having an organized, shared database of prayer needs and answers to prayer.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment below.

Technology and Administration in the Church

July 27, 2011 in Administration, Church, Leaky Jar, Tech

After a prolonged hiatus, I am hoping to return to a more regular schedule of blogging. Although I will continue to post theological musings and the like, I also hope to be of some help to churches in offering advice and suggestions regarding the use of technology in service to the church. Although some of the flashiest uses of technology in the church have to do with web design and social media use for outreach and community-building (and I hope to write on these topics), church administration also deserves to be spotlighted.

Since the earliest days of the Church, certain Spiritual gifts have been glorified and desired above others. It is easy to see why apostleship, prophecy, tongues, preaching, teaching, and healing would catch people’s attention, but it is a mark of worldliness to glorify these gifts above others, because all gifts have been given not for the benefit of individual Christians but for the upbuilding of Christ’s Church. One often overlooked Spiritual gift is that of administration, which may seem mundane, but actually serves as the trellis on which the vine of the church may grow and prosper (this image is borrowed from the excellent book, The Trellis and the Vine). If we are tempted to label different gifts as different parts of the Body of Christ, the case could be made that administration would be the skeleton. Because faithful and wise administration allows all the gifts in a church to prosper, many of my posts will focus on ways that technology can help congregations in the ministry of administrating.

I hope that this will serve Christ’s Church well in its many local manifestations, and I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions below.