Creating Custom Fields... No Programmer Required

02-14-2018

MinistryPlatform is unique among all church management systems.  It allows for custom fields on any form without programming.  Do you want to add a date field, a true/false question, a text value or a drop down list? No problem. Access to your SQL Server is required, but the process takes mere minutes. The resulting field is securable, auditable, and it can be used by our View Engine, API and workflow!

Often a church asks our Professional Services team for help. We’ve added some surprising custom fields in the past... like height and weight!  Aren’t you glad your church doesn’t track that?!? Some items make sense in one cultural context but not others, like the number of the choir robes issued to a group member.  MinistryPlatform allows you to decide where to track that value instead of sticking it in some generic structure like attributes or profiles.

With so many interesting churches, there is a great deal of variety, but I’ve noticed a trend that I like very much for custom fields:

 

The Participant Record is a great place to add a few custom fields related to your volunteer onboarding, membership process, or guest follow-up.

It works well for a few reasons, but before we list those, let’s look at a couple of examples:

Your church may have a few documents that anyone who wants to join or serve must complete.  In general you just need to know when they turned in that document, whether their references were returned, and who on your team interviewed the person. 

 

Here are some custom field examples for a typical Membership process:

  • Membership Covenant Date
  • Membership Interview By (Pick List of Contacts)
  • Membership Interview Date
  • Membership Interview Notes 
  • Membership Requirements Met 

 

Here are some custom fields that I have found useful for Volunteer Onboarding:

  • Application Received Date
  • References Checked Date
  • Cleared to Serve 

Custom fields can easily be added to page views to identify people who are in the process, but still have outstanding requirements. The reason I like putting these values on the Participant record is that you can see the person’s group, event, milestone, and response history from there.  This form starts out with plenty of space in a new MinistryPlatform implementation.  Adding a few key fields here won’t make the form long or complicated.

 

Before adding custom fields consider a few things:

  • Can we work with these values exclusively in MP? Where else could these values be of use?
  • Is there a standard approach that already exists for what we are trying to accomplish that would offer some ready-made reports and applications?
  • Will we need to plan to move historical data from other tables into these custom fields for consistency going forward?

You may find you need some help from Professional Services to make this happen. Let us know how we can help you extend MinistryPlatform so it can better serve your church!