Monday, February 9, 2009

8 Simple Rules

As someone who volunteers to enter Sunday's attendance for a very large church, I find myself bewildered at the number of members who cannot be identified in the church's database. And while I wish the following rules (that I made up today after another morning of frustration) could be plastered inside the attendance books, I know I'll just have to be happy venting here. So if you go to a large church, please heed the following requests:

1. Please print your name legibly. If you write in cursive, you tend to just sign your name like you would any other document and while the enlarged first letter of your last name is legible, the other six or seven letters that have been turned into a squiggle or straight line are not. I cannot stress the importance of this; in fact, most of my problems would be solved if everyone followed just this one rule.

2. If you have a very common name, please write your address or some other type of identifying information along with your name. Our church has 8,000 members. Do you know how many John Smiths and Nancy Andersons we have on our rolls?

3. On that same note, please don't write "The Taylor Family" and expect me to know which of the ten Taylor families pertains to yours. Adding an address or first name would be a great help.

4. Please write down your first and last names. Writing "Ivy" or "Porter" is not helpful. Who do you think you are? Cher? Madonna?

5. For the elderly ladies: I understand that you were raised to always think of yourselves as wives instead of individuals, but the database does not list you as "Mrs. Bob Dawson." It lists you as "Edith Dawson" and I have a very hard time finding you. If you're embarrassed by the Christian name your parents gave you, please don't be. After several years of teaching, very few first names shock me. Besides, Eunice, Agatha and Mildred are all lovely names. Please use them.

6. On the other end of the age spectrum, please do not allow children who do not write legibly to be the sole attendance recorder for your family. I understand that children want to practice their writing skills (having a five year old who insists on recording her own attendance), but I would ask you to check their work and either fix it or rewrite whatever it is that they attempted to record in the book.

7. I realize that I attend a very WASPy church, but would it kill you to name your children something other than Robert White IV or Charles Brown III? Don't you think they'd like a name of their own, instead of spending their entire lives explaining that they are not Charles Brown Sr. or Charles Brown Jr., but Charles Brown III? And giving them cutsie nicknames like Deuce, Trey or Tripp doesn't really help me, either.

8. And finally, the nicknames. If you go by an unusual nickname, please write your given name along with the unusual name. I'm a pretty smart person, but please tell me how I'm supposed to know that "Mack Jenkins" is actually "Joseph Jenkins"? I can understand Joe, Joey and even Seph as nicknames for Joseph. But "Mack"? Really?

Thank you for following the guidelines. You just made a volunteer's life much easier.

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