CDM+ Connections: Networks of Relationships

The division of labor that came with industrialization created organizations with distinct functional areas or departments. Each of these departments reported to a person or entity that was higher up, and so on until the top level was reached. These organizations used a hierarchical network for communication. Information flowed up and down in the hierarchy. With this flow of information, ministry often depended on the central location of the church building because that’s where the information was.

We have long since shifted, however, from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. Organizations are flatter, and information spreads across networks rather than following discreet lines. Communication is less vertical and more horizontal. Less and less information moves up and down the organization. More and more information moves across the organization.

Network of Relationships

The church has always comprised a network of relationships. When communication in the church network moved up and down the hierarchy, and information was managed in a central location, it was easy to regard these relationships as being contained within the household or family unit. Because the network and the organization tended to be a hierarchy, the church could rely on someone “higher up” in the organization to have awareness of the more complex relationships that extended beyond the boundaries of a household.

Today, those relationships have become more complex, and the notion of a family unit has evolved. Separated or divorced parents may have joint custody of children. Grandparents may be raising grandchildren. Then there are relationships outside of family relationships: coworkers, neighbors, longtime friends, the person who invited another person to the church. Not only has the network of relationships become more complex, but the need to share that information has also spread wider across the people engaged in the congregation’s ministry.

In this environment, CDM+ becomes more than a system for tracking things we can count. It also has to become connective tissue for the congregation and its leadership: connecting members of the community with one another, providing insight into the many ways people are connected, and sharing information with leaders who do ministry on the go, not in an office.

Connections

CDM+ Connections gives you the ability to connect any information in your CDM+ database with anything else and to describe the nature of that relationship. Connections record relationships in ways that go beyond a shared address, and it eliminates the need to rely on memory to recall those relationships. 

For example, with three generations living in a single household, Connections distinctly records the relationships of parents, children, siblings, spouses, and grandparents. Connections can record relationships beyond family ties as well, such as co-workers, neighbors, and long-time friends. Use Connections to record who invited whom to church.

With Connections, the way you view the network of relationships in your church endures even as the environment changes. People move; children grow up and establish their own lives and households; employees change employers. Still, the record of those relationships endures in data that is always close at hand.

Connections in CDM+ also records relationships that exist across areas of the program. When a family creates a gift in memory of a loved one, those family relationships can be connected directly to the memorial gift in your database. Then, years later, when a question arises about the gift, the family information is memorialized in your database, connected to the gift in question. 

Connections in CDM+ is flexible. You set it up to reflect the relationships in your church. Connections thinks outside the box, so you can, too.