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.
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.
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.
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.
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!