Networking is a buzzword that has resulted in the business types taking classes and workshops to learn networking skills. Networking, however, is simply paying attention to the people you meet, recording sufficient contact information, and then making contacts that increase the fields of opportunity for you and them.
For the Sabbath School secretary, networking is also a valuable system for keeping in touch with people. At its most basic level, networking requires a Rolodex, a circular card-filing system that sits on your desk and holds a card for each supporter of your ministry, including the Sabbath School superintendents, secretaries, the pastor, and various suppliers.
Other card-file sections could include valuable information about Sabbath School members, including their addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and fax numbers. Birthday and anniversary dates can be easily recorded.
Rolodex systems are relatively inexpensive, and additional cards are also inexpensive. Unlike computer systems, Rolodexes will never crash or sustain an electrical failure that causes you to lose important and sometimes irretrievable data. It is still a good idea to type two cards and keep one Rolodex at church and the other at home.
Consider these networking modes.
One If by Mail
A simple way to communicate is to send postcards. I like to think of them as old-fashioned email. You don’t have to write much on postcards, which makes them easier to send quickly. And postcards have the added benefit of being less expensive to mail than a card or letter. You can easily have members sign postcards in Sabbath School.
Bearing in mind a few guidelines should help you overcome your writer’s block. First, scratch the message on a piece of scrap paper so that you don’t have to worry about making mistakes on the postcard itself. Next, remember that you don’t have to write the next bestseller. You may wish to write a Bible verse that sums up your thoughts.
Missing members are encouraged by the personal notes of classmates and other members of the Sabbath School. So when members experience illness or tragedy, be sure to post appropriate contact information so that other church members can get into the network. Anyone who makes a contact should also be encouraged to give their own contact information.
Two If by “Cybersea”
I prefer a good old-fashioned note or card, because I like seeing the handwriting. But we have moved into a technical age in which many people get more email than they do postal service mail (snail mail). Not only can you send a quick (or lengthy, for that matter) message to someone in cyberspace; you can also send “virtual” flowers, cards, balloons, postcards, and other assorted items.
A variety of websites provide creative and inspiring messages for this kind of contact. As with all Internet content, these sites are subject to change and may contain some material that you may find inappropriate.
Whatever method you use to maintain your network, be sure to include prayer. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18, NKJV). Prayer is the best networking tool we have.
Céleste perrino Walker
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists