Improved milestone terminology

Posted on May 19, 2018 by Jonathan Reinink

As a member of the Canadian Reformed Church federation, much of the church terminology I'm familiar with has come from my federation. That has, naturally, had an impact on the language used in Church Social. For example, prior to the redesign, pastoral groups were always called "wards" in Church Social. In the redesign we added a setting to allow churches to choose between "ward" and "district", another common phrase for this. Today, we've added another terminology setting, this time for members who have done profession of faith.

Milestone status

It's quite common for congregations to use a member's milestones (baptism and profession of faith) as a type of membership status. If a member has been baptized, they are considered a "Baptized Member". If a member has also done profession of faith, they are then considered a "Professing Member". Well, sometimes. Different churches have different names for this status. Two other common terms are "Communicant Member" and "Confessing Member". To accommodate each congregation's language preference, we'd added a new "Name for members who've professed their faith" setting, found on the church settings page.

We've gone ahead and set this setting to what we believe each church will prefer. You can, of course, adjust it as needed. You will notice that this setting is now respected throughout the app, including on the family and statistics pages, and is also available as a new field (milestone status) in the report builder.

Updated statistics

Related to this change, we've also made some updates to the statistics page. First, you will notice that we're using the church's preferred terminology here for members who have done profession of faith. We've also completely removed the "non-professing" term, and are simply using "baptized" here instead.

We've also made a change to how the statistics are calculated. Previously, it was possible to set both the "was baptized" and "did profession" options as empty (unknown). And while this technically was more flexible, in reality it made things more confusing. A number of congregations didn't understand why their "professing members" and "baptized members" statistics did not add up to the "total members" count. This was simply because they had members with these fields set to empty (unknown). We've completely removed the ability to leave these fields empty, which should help clear things up.

It's worthwhile to note that if you have a member who has done profession of faith, but has not been baptized, the system will still consider them a "Professing Member". Also, if you have a member who has not been baptized, and has not done profession of faith, they will be listed on the statistics page under a new "total non-baptized members" statistic.