All Aboard the MP Train

06-14-2019
Trace Jackson

As a User SPoC (what the heck is that?) have you struggled to get the rest of your staff on board with using MinistryPlatform? I mean FULLY on board. Like, ditching-those-old-spreadsheets kind of on board?

First off, just know that you are not alone!
I understand.
I’ve been there.

As the database administrator at Christ Fellowship since 2010, I experienced my fair share of pushback, rogue staff, and difficult conversations. And not only did I live to tell about it, but I picked up a few tips along the way.

Find your allies

Chances are, you already have some allies. Is there already someone who is having success in their ministry, who touts that MP is helping them? Encourage them to continue using their voice. Maybe “promote” them to MP Guru (or some other made up title that gives them the feels).

Make new allies

Is there someone whose job you can make easier? Look for inefficiencies or gaps you can address. When you help improve someone’s process or ministry, they recognize that you’re in the trenches together.

Find out what is important to influential members of your staff. Do they want numbers? Charts? Efficiency? Money, knowledge, or stories? Leadership will love when you take the initiative to show them reports from the data you ALREADY HAVE and that simply makes their jobs or decision-making easier. When they are on board, they start to encourage down the chain to get others on board, too.

Support initiatives like Vision Casting, Growth/Expansion, or a particular focus. This will get noticed and the value of MP will increase.

Build relationships

Let your staff know you’re accessible. People used to tell me how guilty they felt for coming to me with an MP question because I was so busy. Well, you know what? I work at a church, of course I’m busy! But my job was to support them, so I had to figure out ways to show them that I was available and poised to serve them.

I tend to be task-oriented (shocking, I know) and so I’d force myself outside my comfort zone by walking the building and actually being social. I’d check in on every department – in person! Inevitably, I’d get several people who would say, “Oh! Now that you’re here, can you help me with … ?”

As much as I loved working from home, I knew it isolated me. Sometimes that was a necessity, but many times I could just as easily work in the office and be visible.

You can also post MP Hours on your door or cube wall so people don’t feel like they’re disrupting you by coming to you with a question. Let them know you’ve “reserved” that time for them.

Occasionally I’d hold an Open MP Forum where I’d work in a big room with a screen for the day and let people come in and out and ask me questions. Some people would work in there the entire time I was there just to hear my answers to other people’s questions.

I used to send out a survey every couple of years to find out what people wanted training on, what they were struggling with, etc. And then I’d fashion training for them based on responses!

Publicly applaud your “Evangelists.” Most people like public kudos, and it not only confirms to others that MP is compliment-worthy, it may motivate them to speak out positively as well.

But just as importantly … correct negativity. Privately. Request naysayers to stop poo-pooing MP. Keyword: privately. You can do this while also instilling leadership in them. Show them that they have a “voice” and that, whether they intend it or not, their negativity can infect how others see your tools and processes and ultimately hurt the organization.

“Hire” volunteers. God wants to bless you with volunteers. In fact, he has already equipped them to serve. And given them the desire to serve. Pray for them. Then expect God to answer your prayers by preparing to train them before they show up. And they will show up.

Make MPing Fun

We were designed to serve the Lord. It should be pleasing to us. We should enjoy it. It should be fun! So it stands to reason that tools that help us to serve the Lord should be fun, too! Here’s some ways I’ve learned to make MPing fun for my staff.

Bribes (I think the P.C. term is “gifts”) are effective. I used to give away a gift card to the first person who signed up for a training session, or for filling out my survey after the training. Gifts can generate interest and/or loyalty.

Empower your people!

  • Teach the 5-15 rule – spend at least five minutes trying to figure it out on their own, but no more that 15 minutes. The goal is to empower them to learn and research on their own, not to frustrate them. If they’ve put in their 15 minutes, be quick to help.
  • Power Users can train others. Put someone in charge of “all things BG checks” or “all things registrations” and they can be the go-to when someone has questions. It elevates them, displays their value and they feel good. And empowered.
  • Empower your volunteers to find volunteers!

Have a candy bowl* at your desk or provide it during training. Take your candy-at-training to the next level by tossing out Smarties to those that get a question right, and Dum Dums to those that don’t. It can instill a bit of friendly competition as well as get people laughing.

*Tip for the health-conscious. Buy candy you don’t like in order to keep yourself from eating it all. I may or may not have had to learn that one the hard way.

Turn training into a Game Show or some other fun activity. Maybe pit the leaders against the admins. That’s always entertaining.

Post your Report Card results once a month. Treat your staff to something special if you improve or maintain a certain grade.

MP Community

Remember the part where I said you’re not alone? The best thing about MinistryPlatform is that it comes with a community. If you aren’t taking advantage of that, you’re missing out on one of the best features our platform has.

  • Google Group – We talk about everything under the sun here, even things outside the platform. And did you know churches are constantly sharing wins and successes that you could get ideas from?
  • Blog – Congrats, You’re here! We post articles on Customer Spotlights, new Partners, tips and training (like this!), and more.
  • Social Media – Are you following us on Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn
  • Local gatherings – If there aren’t any in your area, plan one yourself!
  • Regional Training – Not only do you get stellar sessions led by one of our MP Trainers, you also get to work alongside other MP churches to share ideas, collaborate on challenges, and trade mobile numbers with your brand-new lifelong friends.
  • MPUG – The once-a-year must-do. It’s community, training, laughing, brain-trusting, networking, and amazing all rolled into one.
Tags: SPoC