Finding the Right Words

As many of you know, we are now using CMS2 to enter all information regarding a contact and are no longer doing this in CMS1. A contact in CMS2 parlance is a visit, call, letter, or any type of contact to a prospect related to church growth. Along the way to rolling out this feature, we’ve been tweaking the way contacts are entered in CMS2. One of the thorny issues is terminology. In fact I’ve just published some new changes to CMS2 related to Contacts. Let me explain.

A contact involves two sides. One side writes the letter, the other receives it. One side rings the doorbell, the other opens the door. One side dials the telephone, the other answers it. You get the idea. In the case of visiting, the E.E. team is the visitor on a Tuesday evening, but the one being visited was the visitor the previous Sunday at worship service. So at least in this case, the visitor can be on either side. But what are we trying to capture here? The important element for distinguishing between the two sides of a contact is who is on the ministry side, that is to say on the giving side and who is on the receiving side. When someone comes to a worship service, although they initiated the contact, they are being ministered to. When that same person is visited by a G.R.O.W. team Sunday afternoon, they are still being ministered to even though the team initiated the contact. Both events are a contact and both events are visits. The common element between the two is not the visitor but the one being ministered to.

So lets call folks one side of a contact the ministers and the folks on the other side the recipients of the ministry. Some might argue that the term minister refers to one of our paid ministry staff members. But lets not think that way. Everyone in the church should be involved in the work of the ministry and as such everyone in the church should be a minister. Here’s proof by definition:

ministry: the use of a person’s gifts and talents, time and energy, in the service of others. It involves the exercise of roles designated by the Church to fulfil its mission in different works of service, such as in worship, teaching, leadership, evangelism, welfare, and stewardship.

OK, so now I feel justified in calling one side of a contact the ministers. But what do we call the other side? Calling them "the recipients of the ministry" is not working for me. From the perspective of a single contact, I think it works to call one side the "ministry team" and the other side the "contactees." But from the perspective of an individual who has participated as both minister and recipient of ministry, what do we call the two sides of that individual’s history of contacts?

So here is where I have settled for the time being: The list of an individual’s contacts where that individual was the minister is called "Contacts given." The list of an individual’s contacts where that individual was ministered to is called "Contacts received." That works for me because it fits with the idea of giving and receiving. Ministry is not just using gifts, talents, time or energy; it involves giving and receiving.

Can you believe that much thought would go into putting a label on a web page? I must admit, most of the time it is not that involved but labels are important for clear understanding and good communication. If you have any ideas, feel free to comment.

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