Tithing Settlement In 2 Days (Share This Gift With Your Bishopric)

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If you’re not a member of a bishopric, please share this with a member of yours. The gift of time might be the best thing you can give them this Christmas season.

Tithing settlement for most members of the Church is a short event where you show up at the church with your family, review your records briefly, then sit down with the Bishop to declare whether or not you’re a full tithe payer, and then chat with the Bishop, potentially raising questions or concerns he might need to be aware of. Previously I’d never thought much about it. It took maybe half an hour of my family’s time and that was it. I was done for the year.

Now that I’ve been called to be the Executive Secretary in my ward, I have a whole different perspective. Tithing settlement for Bishops, their counselors, the clerks, and secretaries, is a major undertaking. It will probably keep me away from my family for several Sunday evenings, as well as several more evenings over several weeks. This realization came over me throughout October, as we tried to make holiday plans to travel to be with family. It made me think back to comments made by Patrick Lynch on an MLH Live Hangout previously. He said their Bishopric did Tithing Settlement in two days. Here’s Patrick Lynch’s brief version of how awesomely it worked out:

To me that sounds amazing: even if it’s a long 2 days, it’ll be much better to get it completed, instead of spread over several days and evenings, stretched over several weeks. Kurt Francom (contributor to MLH) is a Bishop, and he wanted to learn more about how they accomplished this as well. We followed up with Patrick and what follows is the longer version, with more details and a few ideas contributed by Kurt & myself. Pat Lynch and his Bishopric carried it out with great success.

The 10 Minute Schedule (the key to the whole thing)

The 1st thing you have to do, is get the entire Bishopric (or at least the Bishop) committed to the 10 minute schedule. The schedule goes like this: a family or individual is scheduled every 10 minutes, except the last 10 minutes of the hour. So, for example, families are scheduled at 6:00, 6:10, 6:20, 6:30, and 6:40, but no one at 6:50. The last 10 minutes of the hour are to compensate for any “lag” in the schedule.

This part is the key, because it’s what allows you to run the entire ward through the Bishop’s office in 2 days. Obviously you have to choose a Saturday and Sunday to do this. If you do 11 – 4 on Sat, then 9hrs (around your block meetings) on Sunday, with a half hour break at dinner time on Sunday, you should be able to do about 70 appointments in those 2 days. If most are couples or families, that’s 120+ adults taken care of, in those 2 days. As Patrick said in that Hangout “we got 80% of the ward in 2 days.” Kurt was amazed.

Once you decide what time’s you’re reserving for tithing settlement, make up several tear-off sheets (that Kurt told you how to do previously) to make it really easy to sign people up for their slots. Or perhaps use something like SnapAppointments or YouCanBook.me to do it online.Tithing Settlement tear-off scheduling

Station 1: Information Confirmation or Correction

This station is the normal station that the clerk’s office normally serves: a printout of each member’s records are given to them as they arrive, then any changes, corrections, or additions are put into the computer immediately, so there’s no backlog.

One way to streamline this might be to bring a laptop (even a simple Chromebook would suffice) and station somebody out in the hallway to do the corrections. This way, you could have members of the ward look at the screen with you, to confirm you’d correctly typed in their updated phone number, child’s strangely-spelled name, etc. You can use the Church’s great new beta version of the Member List to do this on any internet-connected computer (the old version works fine too). This would help eliminate the traffic-jam that the clerk’s office door often becomes, and simultaneously improve accuracy of the ward records.

Station 2: LDS.org Account Setup

At the next station, adult members of the ward are asked if they have an LDS account? If they don’t, a computer is available for them to set one up, right there. And since they received their records at Station 1, they already have their record number and confirmation date (which are required to setup an LDS.org account). A counselor, clerk, or secretary, helps them get their LDS.org account setup. As long as at least 1 parent in each family has an account, they can access the most current version of the ward directory from their computer, and update their own, and the household’s information.

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Station 3: Photos

Next they go to the photo station. Here, their picture is taken and added to the online directory. As an Executive Secretary who’s only been in the ward for a relatively short time, I can say, this would be so hugely helpful! But not just to Exec Sec’s, to everyone in the ward to be able to recognize and befriend one another. Get your most assertive/authoritative counselor, clerk, or secretary for this job. Don’t take “no” for an answer. Most people won’t want to have their picture taken. Just assure them that if they don’t like it, they can use their shiny new LDS.org account from Station 2 to upload a new picture, as soon as they get home, if they don’t like the one taken.

To make this really simple and easy, get one of these cool little devices (or make one yourself) and a tripod. Use it to mount a tablet or smartphone on the tripod and use it as your camera. Set it up pointing at a well-lit section of wall, and have it close enough that the subject’s head and shoulders will fill most of the frame. Then use the LDS Tools mobile app (iOS or Android) to take and upload the picture straight to the ward list. You could even take a “household” photo of the entire family if you’d like.tithing-settlement-add-picture-android-app

Station 4: Meeting With The Bishop

This station serves the obvious purpose: the individual, couple, or family, meets with the Bishop to declare their tithing. However, in this version, the Bishop is committed to the idea that this is not a “get to know you” session, or even a chance to talk about problems or concerns. It’s purely for Tithing Settlement. So, in addition to having the Bishop committed, one of the counselors, clerks, or secretaries needs to be assigned the job of timekeeper. That means that after 9 minutes, he knocks on the Bishop’s door as a reminder to him and whoever’s meeting with him, that it’s time to wrap up. It might work great to warn each person as they enter, the meaning of that knock. Then it’s not all on the Bishop to end the meeting.

For any “get to know you” or problems, the Bishop or the people meeting with him, can talk to the Executive Secretary immediately afterward about scheduling a follow-up appointment. That means it would probably be a good idea to have the Executive Secretary be the timekeeper. Those follow-up appointments make it so the Bishop can still meet the needs of his flock, but on another day, when all the counselors, clerks, and secretaries aren’t also waiting.

The Followup Night(s)

Obviously you’re not going to be able to get everyone in 2 days. So schedule a followup night to get the remainders in. Then start calling anyone who didn’t come in and get them setup on that night.

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I just presented this to our Bishopric last night. They loved the idea. And why wouldn’t they: it lets us have a lot more flexibility with our schedules in Dec, where they’re used to spending literally all 4 Sundays of Dec. doing tithing settlement, plus some other nights in between. How are you supposed to travel to see family and such, when you have to be at church all day every Sunday?

Please share this with your Bishopric. Share it with anyone and everyone who might know somebody who will benefit from it. Give the gift of time this year, to Bishoprics the world over. And send thanks to Patrick Lynch for sharing it with us!

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Tevya Washburn

Website Creator at FiddlerStudios
Designer & creator of Mormon Life Hacker. Tevya keeps a personal blog, & another called Sacred Symbolic, about learning the Gospel through symbolism. Currently serving as: YM Secretary.

19 comments on “Tithing Settlement In 2 Days (Share This Gift With Your Bishopric)

  1. Tithing settlement used to take a month when I was in the bishopric. Our current bishopric pulls 80%+ of tithing settlement off in one Saturday. I love the idea of doing the technical end, getting people hooked up with an LDS account complete with photo. I will suggest it.

  2. John Shaw says:

    TS is an outdated concept that needs serious thought. Technically, we already validate our contributions each 2 years with both Bishopric and Stake Presidency – the 10 minutes I spend with the Bishop who pretends to be concerned about me and my family is ridiculous – for many of us this is the only time we meet with the Bishop – and Frankly, it servers to drive my opinion lower each time as the Bishop struggles with my kids names, makes a funny joke, asks my family about our goals for the next year and wants us to set some right then…BTW, this is coming from a 15 year vet of ExecSec/Clerk/StakeClerk

    Families need quality time with a Bishop each year, this is not conducive to the real need and serves to make families feel like it’s a cattle-call – run’em through the maze, hurry declare to the Bishop and then move on….

    There should probably be something more like Bishopric Youth Interviews with each family, each year – it’s something that Bishops would like/should like to do, but TS seems to be the dedicated time and there is just not enough time in the rush of holidays Thanksgiving and Christmans/New Years, etc…

  3. John Shaw says:

    It’s a creative solution, but it sounds even more rushed… how important to people in a ward feel this really is.. and if we’re trying to make it even faster and more efficient, what does that say about the process itself? The quicker and more efficient it becomes serves to send the message that it’s ‘a duty’ that must be ‘gotten through’ on the Bishop’s part.

    1. Kurt says:

      John, I see your point. However, tithing settlement is a duty and it needs to be done. Doing it quickly and efficiently doesn’t mean you are sending the wrong message. Strong leadership and personal connection should be established year round, and if a bishop is using tithing settlement as the chance to finally do this with the members of his ward then there is a leadership deficit.

      December is crazy busy for bishops and tithing settlement is a process that needs to be completed accurately and as quickly as possible, so the bishop can get back to his highest duty as a father in his home.

  4. Bishop C says:

    This will be my 5th tithing settlement as Bishop. Your ‘key to the whole thing’ is the problem. There are people who come in for tithing settlement that I haven’t seen for almost a year, since perhaps the last tithing settlement. You see them in the hallways, you see them dutifully fulfilling their callings, but there’s not been a reason for the two of you to sit knee to knee and talk. For those people, this is the time they get the Bishop all to themselves, and if they have ANYTHING they need to get off their chest – now is the time.

    I can’t tell you how many people have used that time to tell me they’re holding on to reality / their testimony / their marriage / their struggling children / their business / their ability pay rent – all by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin. It’s because of this, you really can’t churn people through.

    We have 33 single women in our ward. So I’ve often felt inspired to give them a blessing at the end of the meeting.

    I’ve come to believe that the main reason for tithing settlement, isn’t to talk about tithing, but for all of the active members (anyone willing to come to tithing settlement) to have an audience with the Bishop – at least once a year.

    We don’t do it much differently. I schedule 15 minute meetings. Every 4th slot we have a 15 ‘buffer’ period to pick up the slack. Yes, we could do it all on one day. But frankly, I don’t know if I could take it. :) Having it over 4 days, roughly 8 hours total, is what we strive for.

    1. This is for Bishopric’s that want to get it completed in less weeks. It’s an idea, a suggestion. Nobody is being forced to follow it. This site isn’t endorsed or approved by the Church in any way. If you feel something different is appropriate for you and your ward that’s great!

      I’m all for the idea of the Bishop meeting with all those individuals and families that he never really gets to talk to. But what if you did it on an ongoing basis? Have the ExecSec schedule 1 individual or family every Sunday and every Tues/Wed night? To me, as long as it’s part of “Tithing Settlement” there will be a certain feeling of “we have to do this” and “we have to hurry rushed” because you’re supposed to, everyone does it in Dec, and they know there’s somebody else outside waiting…. they saw them waiting in line behind themselves when they were waiting.

      This focuses Tithing Settlement on just Tithing Settlement, cuts down on a lot of wasted time (people sitting outside waiting, clerks and counselors waiting, etc) and provides a huge opportunity to find another, better way, for the Bishop to connect and minister to those whom he doesn’t normally get to. But again, this is just a suggestion. An idea, that a lot of people seem to love so far.

      1. Bishop C says:

        Sorry Tevya. I do think there are some good points. I’ve asked my Bishopric to read the post. Really like the idea to take pictures, be organized, etc.

        Agreed, meeting with all the families throughout the year would be ideal.
        Practical? Lots of factors. Size of youth program – how many youth interviews is he already doing? What other issues is he dealing with – problem marriages, poor economy and financial issues in the ward, Bishop’s life – If he has young children and owns his own business (me), already squeezed for time.

        If he’s retired, then it’s all good.

        Avoiding the ill feelings coming from others mentioned here, that would be my goal :)

        1. Sounds great @Bishop C. Don’t worry, I wasn’t bothered or offended by your comment. I hope it’s clear that we’re faithful (or at least striving) Latter-day Saints here at MLH. And as such, the Spirit should be followed first and foremost. If Tithing Settlement needs to be a longer meeting with the more faithful members of the ward, then that’s how it needs to be. This is just a suggestion to get away from doing it “the old way” purely for the sake of tradition. If there’s still great reasons to do it “the old way,” then of course that’s what should be done.

  5. RobF says:

    Out here on the East Coast, our ward is 35 miles long and takes over an hour to drive from end to end, so getting folks to the church on a Saturday or any other time than Sunday meeting time is a challenge, but there are several ideas here that I’m sure will help us keep it shorter than it might otherwise be. Thanks!

  6. Russ Blood says:

    FWIW — We found a web site called youcanbook.me that allows members to sign up for their tithing settlement times on line. So far, we have over 60 families signed up.

    1. @Russ, thanks for that great suggestion! I’ve added it to the post.

  7. Micah says:

    I was Exec Sec the last two years but not this year so I forwarded this on to the new guy. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Dave J says:

    I’ve done several tithing settlements as a clerk and now as a member of the bishopric (no, I didn’t actually do the interviews in the bishopric). And I agree with the basic premise of your article – tithing settlement is for settling tithing, not life issues. The purpose of the bishop is to guide and lead the ward throughout the year. If you haven’t tended to your sheep in 11 months, then “ur doin’ it wrong.” If issues come up during settlement, let them know that they need to talk to their priesthood leaders, and home and visiting teachers. The bishop should not be the one-stop-shop for fixing all issues – only those where worthiness is involved. A bishop’s counsellors are also fully empowered to meet with, interview and counsel with members. This delegation is important! I’ve been “stuck” behind people who needed to talk to the bishop during tithing settlement, but were unwilling to make an appointment outside of a time when the ENTIER WARD was waiting to spend their five minutes with the bishop. Frustrating.

    More to the point, we use a system much like you have outlined. We put up three days of signup sheets (two Sundays and a Wednesday) with 10 minute increments and a 10 minute gap every three minutes. We usually get most of our very active members through in 1.5 days, most of our semi-actives through in 1 day, and have a few stragglers on the other day. If the signups fill up fast, we open up a fourth day, usually a Tuesday evening or a Saturday morning. This helps tremendously, but the bishop still ends up calling about 30 households.

  9. Chad H says:

    We did something similar when I was a Ward Clerk for a Student Ward, now all consolidated to Single Wards. Our timing was 2 mins. seems really short, but it is one person. We asked them to do the same thing, declare full, part or non and if there was anything else they needed to discuss with the Bishop we had the executive secretary there to schedule a different appointment. Not only did we get it done quicker, but we also increased the percentage of members that actually came to tithing settlement. Most members didn’t like sitting around waiting to declare and some even left if they waited longer then they felt they should. We only did it on Sunday because it was hard getting students to church any other day. After our first 2 Sundays we’d have a majority done. We also simply gave them their information while they were waiting to see the Bishop, unfortunately with 8 wards in the building there wasn’t space for a station. If we didn’t have their picture we’d take them to the Clerks office after seeing the Bishop. Worked great for the last couple years I was a clerk.

  10. David G says:

    An interesting idea perhaps – but I think any bishop who runs their tithing settlement this way is missing out on a great opportunity to get to know the members of his ward better – and to thus be a better shepherd. As a bishop, I love the members of my ward and value the opportunity to personally see how things are going in their lives. As well, for those with children, it creates a nice teachable moment as whole families come in for tithing settlement. Our members are not cattle and really shouldn’t be treated as such.

    1. Kurt says:

      Don’t mistake efficiency for insincerity. I can completely see your perspective that nobody wants to feel like they are being pushed through a human car wash; however, the same noble stance could be taken on the other side. As a bishop may be getting to know his ward members better by taking 15-20 minutes with each family during tithing settlement, his own family may be at home wondering, “where’s dad?”

      Being in these callings will take as much time as you feed it. The calling can easily feed on family time before you realize it.

      Our hope is that these ideas will help you speed up the parts of the process where nobody is being shepherded (reviewing records, taking pictures, etc.). Being efficient with the time of those you lead may do more to build trust than any extra time spent with them in your office.

  11. Jeff Drake says:

    This is the method our bishopric used, this year. The other one I’ve seen used, and quite successfully, sounds like it might even be a little better: instead of having one family sign up for each ten-minute slot, have three families sign up for each thirty-minute slot and take a first come, first served approach. If a family arrives at 10:18 for a 10:00 appointment, no biggie; they just go last. Using this method, you knock out six families per hour instead of five, and the lag time is practically nonexistent. (You just need to be sure to stick to the schedule.) ;-)

  12. Steve Schaefer says:

    Thanks MLH, you’ve given me some great ideas to consider!
    Bishop Schaefer
    Madison WI Stake

  13. In a Provo YSA Stake, this is the norm, and it works great. The bishopric should be meeting regularly with each ward member throughout the year (or semester, in the case of transient YSA wards) – December doesn’t need to be the crunch for all interviews. This past December, we had a ward brunch on the first or second Saturday of December. Everyone got breakfast and socialized, and each person was pulled out one by one (no appointments needed) to declare their tithing with the bishop. It doesn’t need to be impersonal, but it shouldn’t be seen as your “one chance” to talk to the bishop either.

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