Christ the King of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a parish devoted to authentic encounters. Large in number, there is a discernible focus on fostering intimacy with God and each other through one-on-one relationships and smaller faith communities. Bible studies around the dining room table in the rectory, neighborhood parishes, small faith-sharing groups, are just a fraction of the opportunities available to deepen relationships and provide a rich community life open to inviting others in.
Three years ago Christ the King switched to ParishSOFT Family Suite. Their previous software had the capacity for some reporting and limited query building, which they found necessary for their mission and ministries. As a result, when they switched to ParishSOFT they opted for the add-on module ParishSOFT Intelligent Query (IQ).
ParishSOFT IQ is the Family Suite’s custom query builder that enables robust, customized reporting and data mining to provide deeper insights and actionable data. The application enables the querying of information from nearly any field in the Family Suite. Reports provide general or highly specific results to better know and reach parishioners, and assess parish needs. Says Jessica Thompson, Mission and Ministry Coordinator, “We could not live without ParishSOFT IQ.”
Forming missionary disciples through a life-changing encounter with Christ, fostered by Christian community, is at the heart of Christ the King’s ministry. With 1400 families however, inviting parishioners into a deeper life of faith requires diligent record keeping and data mining. The goal goes beyond simply reaching parishioners; it’s about providing a relevant and meaningful invitation based on where they are in their life and faith journey.
Take, for example, the parish’s quarterly new parishioner luncheon. Leading up to the event the parish will run an IQ report based on the Membership Date field and other conditions. Exporting the list to Excel, the data is easily sorted to identify where families are in the new parishioner welcome process.
The data defines the action plan: who needs a phone call and personal invite, who needs an email reminder, and who couldn’t make it last time and needs a follow-up invitation and phone call?  A significant example of data informed ministry, it is just one instance of how Christ the King leverages their census information and technology tools to more effectively reach and engage parishioners.
Thompson started just a few months after the purchase of the ParishSOFT Family Suite. To get up to speed, she listened in on webinars and quickly dove into the software. Says Thompson, “It’s not a hard program to learn.”
The parish was interested in many custom reports of varying levels of complexity, most of which Thompson built. But on getting help for the more intricate reports, Thompson said, “One of the best things about ParishSOFT is a great Support Team.” Noting that some of the queries were quite involved, the Support Team didn’t always have an immediate solution, but they are “dedicated to finding an answer and will always find you the answer.” The result for Christ the King is a library of dynamically updated, ready-to-use, custom built queries that reflect the parish’s unique ministry and reporting needs.
Staff love that queries can be run weekly, monthly, yearly, or as needed, and the reports generated will be up-to-date with the latest census information. This includes supporting ministry leaders and parish life by providing specific email lists, mailing labels, or contact information based on ministry needs or target audience. For example, pulling an email list for all parents of children in the age range for the faith formation program; contact information for parish wide initiatives, such as the men’s and women’s ACTS retreats; identifying and engaging high school youth; comprehensive diocesan reporting, the possibilities are nearly endless!
Under the direction of a previous pastor the parish undertook the development of neighborhood parishes. Arranged according to geographic territory, these neighborhood groups are perhaps a little reminiscent of the house churches in Gospel times. As Father David Webb, Associate Pastor of Christ the King, commented in our video interview at Nexus, “mountain-top experiences” are necessary to strengthen our faith, but we also need “support and accountability” in the day-to-day of ordinary life.
Neighborhood parishes are a beautiful opportunity to experience daily life with brothers and sisters in faith. At different levels of activity, these small “parishes” are adapted to the needs of the neighborhood community. Faith-sharing gatherings, cookie exchanges, or just knowing who to ask to borrow that cup of sugar, experiencing life with neighbors fights isolation, builds Christian community, and sets the stage for deeper engagement and lay leadership.
Dividing the parish bounds into neighborhood regions identified by a single letter (ex: neighborhood ‘a’, ‘b’, or ‘c’), the parish subscribed to a mapping service that identified where families were located within each neighborhood region. Each family’s location is recorded in the Family Suite in their Family Directory record using the Map Code field. Changes are dutifully recorded, ensuring the data is usable and relevant.
With IQ, a simple report can alert neighborhood leaders when someone is moving into/out of the neighborhood, provides contact information for invites, and can even provide information on neighborhood demographics, which might be helpful for gauging interests, planning events, or identifying the needs of these neighborhood parishes.
Christ the King is currently working towards bringing all their census, stewardship and ministry information into their ParishSOFT Family Suite. With ParishSOFT IQ, the parish will have tremendous potential to take advantage of the deep benefits of a single, integrated database that will enable still more comprehensive data mining and customized reporting to better know and reach parishioners.
As Father Webb observed, “The way that we live in this world today involves technology, reaching out to people where they are at…. Being fluent and versatile in technology is really important for ministry.” Spurred on by the Gospel, the parish’s attentiveness to the times, creativity in wielding their data, and ever-generous response, paves the way for building an authentic community where everyone is invited to encounter Christ the King.
 According to research from the Barna Group, a personal invitation is still by far the most effective means of engaging someone in the life of the Church. In addition to personal invitation, a family may register for the parish, but what will keep them coming, and ultimately draw them into a deeper relationship with Christ, is the genuine hospitality and strength of community that they experience through the parish.