Rev. Howard Bell
It has been my great joy over the last year to volunteer – along with Gary Adams, David Sumnicht, and Thor Mickelson – to increase the utilization of Realm as a ministry tool for Mayflower Church. A bit of background about why working with technology brings me joy: I am a bit of a “techie geek.” I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when, using technology, I can communicate large amounts of important information to a large number of people.
When I came to Mayflower for the first time as the Interim Associate Minister in 2010, I was charged with not only encouraging new members to find ways to give of their time and talent within the Mayflower community, but also to connect existing members with ministry teams and ministry opportunities. I was deeply frustrated by Mayflower’s existing database. I prayed for something that would make that ministry more successful. When Thor introduced me to Realm in 2020, I could see it was a fulfillment of my prayers. A year later, we have only begun to tap into the many potential capabilities of this ministry tool.
Phase 1: Enriching the Mayflower Community — Realm was first implemented as a tool for online giving in 2019. It has been a huge success, used by a significant majority of members and friends who pledge, give, and track their contributions to the church through their individual Realm accounts. I have personally loved making monthly withdrawals from my checking account for fulfilling my pledge. I also love the ease of giving beyond my pledge for memorials and other special offerings. During the pandemic, as our worship services moved to livestream, “Text to Give” using smartphones was introduced as another method for using Realm for online giving.
Phase 2: Connecting Us to One Another – The second major rollout of Realm is the Realm Online Directory. Mayflower now has more than 900 profiles with contact information visible in the directory. The photos I added in Realm were taken by LifeTouch for the printed 2019 Mayflower Photo Directory. Since LifeTouch is no longer in the business of producing church photo directories, the Realm Online Directory has taken on even greater importance for maintaining connections to one another in the future.
Phase 3: Supporting Our Ministries – The third major rollout of Realm is still being planned. It will be the full utilization of Realm for Mayflower’s Ministry Teams/Groups. I entered all the Ministry Teams/Groups and the existing group leaders from the 2019 Mayflower Annual Report. These need to be refined and updated. Realm provides the capability to list ministry participants in each Ministry Team/Group drawing from the existing Realm profiles. Leaders have the capability within their Ministry Teams/Groups to provide news posts, send emails, and print group rosters for the participants in their Ministry Team/Group.
This Ministry Team/Group function is the one that initially drew Gary Adams to Realm in order to learn how to use Realm within his role as one of Mayflower’s Befrienders Ministry coordinators. Gary gives testimony to Realm as the “source of truth” for maintaining accurate rosters, for communicating with the ministry team members and for empowering individual Befrienders to take responsibility for specific functions that previously resulted in requests for the coordinators to provide, eliminating duplication of efforts. When Gary joined with Thor and me in establishing the Realm Project Management Team (RPMT), using his professional expertise as a project manager, he has been a strong, steady, guiding hand for asking why we should do something in Realm before asking how we could do something in Realm; as well as a strong advocate for developing standards for all groups; and establishing consistent policies and practices on a church-wide basis. Gary is also a master of databases and spreadsheets. David Sumnicht joined RPMT more recently offering both his technology expertise and his experience with Mayflower’s Stewardship Ministry.
You can improve Mayflower’s Realm experience by:
- If you do not have a Realm Account, register for one by requesting a Realm Invite by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- When logged in to your Realm Account, click on “Directory” in the left side menu bar and find others in the directory using the search function.
- Update your own profile information. Learn how to manage profile and privacy in Realm.
- If you are a Ministry Team/Group Leader, add people in your group in the participants section of your group page. Then you could explore the various communication functions with your participants.
To offer feedback and/or ask questions related to using Realm at Mayflower, please email: email@example.com.
Look for updates on Realm in the Friday “This Week at Mayflower” emails. We celebrate the successes that have been completed thus far and look forward to more to come!