by Terry Wilhite
Office organization is a skill that is not taught in seminary nor at any university that I'm familiar with, but it is essential to being an efficient and effective leader. That's the reason I'm recommending you take a look at a newly-released upgrade to The Pastor's Study from RCL Software—perhaps the best organization tool on the market for ministers, in my opinion, and for just $44.99, you'd be hard pressed to find more for less in a software application.
When you open The Pastor's Study, you're greeted with a gray window that will be occupied by your choice of data bases that you want to access. Icons are located conveniently across the top and more than a dozen pull-down menus are available that, I believe, will get you excited.
First off, this software allows you to build a database or a card catalog of sorts for all your sermons. You enter the message title, creation date, book, and chapter of the Bible on which the sermon is based and even the Bible translation. The sermon menu also allows you to easily do a query (search) that will present you with a report of your sermon series names or the Scripture verses you've used.
One of my big requirements with professionally-produced databases such as this is that they should allow you the ability to easily export your data out of the application. The Pastor's Study lives up to that challenge and makes exporting to Microsoft Excel as easy as a click of a button.
Further, The Pastor's Study allows you to build a data base of sermon illustrations and to organize your stories and illustrations by date, category, source, and keywords. You can include the text for the story or illustration as well. This feature alone may be worth the price of the software.
The Tools Category allows you to trigger your favorite word processor, Bible software, and presentation software applications through The Pastor's Study's pull down menu.
This software also allows you to easily build a password-protected database of your counseling sessions, including the date of the appointment along with notes and recommendations.
Additionally, the software gives you the ability to build a database of all the assets in your personal library. This is an extremely impressive feature. You can enter the title of a book, the Dewey Decimal code and class numbers, along with the work's author and location, such as the church library or yours.
The Pastor's Study also offers you a departure from using Microsoft Outlook to organize your contact information. In fact, you can import your contacts from Outlook into this software. The Pastor's Study allows you a category for a skill description (plumber, doctor, electrician) for each contact, along with all the categories you'd expect, including e-mail addresses. Speaking of which, you can easily set up e-mail groups—which means you can conveniently write one e-mail and send it to each member of a committee. Of course, you can do that with Outlook, but to know you've got this feature available "under one roof" with the rest of these tools is really nice.
This software also offers you a calendar feature under the scheduling menu. You can keep different types of tasks separate and your counseling and visitation appointments can be included in the calendar, too. The software allows you to print four different types of calendar views.
Furthermore, included is a password-protected prayer list database that allows you to sort by answered or unanswered prayer needs. A visitations database and a database for goals are also included.
If you've taken a look at this software before, you'll now be greeted by sixteen robust improvements to an already stout application.
Bob Langer, a computer programmer by profession, is the brains behind this software. In addition to The Pastor's Study, Bob has written a program to organize the assets of the music ministry. The list of his software applications also includes a church media library database program, a visitation manager application, and software for the F.A.I.T.H. outreach strategy. They're all very affordably priced, making good information management available even to the smallest churches and ministries.
Langer's Easy Sunday School Planner is available free of charge. Check out his Website, www.rclsoftware.com.