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The Curious Case of “Peter Walter”

curious case

Everyone loves a little mystery.  Mysteries engage the mind and encourage us to be creative.  Some mysteries, however, are more frustrating than helpful.  Take the case of Peter Walter.

It was a normal Monday morning for the church staff as they went about the work that is typical for a Monday: entering the weekly giving, posting attendance for Sunday School, and adding the new guests into Realm. Then it happened. The financial team came across a check from a person they did not know. Since it was a small amount, they simply entered the information into a spreadsheet instead of entering them into Realm. “Peter Walter – $10.00.”

Almost at the very same time, another staff member was entering the newcomers into a different spreadsheet.  The staff person strained to read the card.  Finally, after much discussion, debate, and analysis, it was determined to be “Peter Wolter.” Note the difference.  Incredibly enough, at the same time another staff member was entering in information on people who had expressed interest in a new Bible study. She also had a new person. She happily entered the new person into Realm. “Walter Peter” was now a newcomer!

The pastor had met Peter on Sunday and had made himself a reminder to look him up the following week and send him a note. Sadly by Wednesday, the burden of the week had made the idea of contacting Peter a fleeting memory.  Weeks passed and Peter, or Walter, or whoever he is, seemed to disappear.  N one really noticed because no one knew.

There are some simple things your church can do to prevent have a case like the case of Peter Walter.

1) Add everyone into Realm.  Realm is not your member database, it is your contact management system. By adding all those you connect with into Realm, all the staff and ministry leaders will have the ability to reach out.

2) Realm makes it easy to merge duplicate records. Schedule a few minutes every week to merge any possible duplicate records.

3) Define your outreach plan. Use Pathways to create a process by which every newcomer is contacted the same way.

4) Make it personal. A conversation is vastly more important than a form letter. It allows for relationship building as well as the ability to gather feedback. Then you can write the notes from your visit in the Pathway for future reference.

These simple steps can help you prevent the curious case of Peter Walter from happening to you. Follow-up has a huge impact on the likelihood a visitor will return. Make sure you have all of your information in one secure, easy-to-use place so the next time Peter Walter, Peter Wolter, or Walter Peter walk through the door, you know exactly who he is and can follow up with him properly.


This post was written by Keith Hudgins. Keith is an Implementation Consultant with ACS Technologies and spends the majority of his time working with churches and helping them learn how to use and implement Realm.

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