Working with rotas in My ChurchSuite

While rota members can easily manage their own rota commitments in My ChurchSuite - accept/decline rota dates, sign up to rota dates, organise swaps, add unavailability - designated Ministry Overseers have full rota management functionality in My ChurchSuite, meaning they don't need user access to the Rotas module to create and manage their rotas. If you're a rota member, check out our My ChurchSuite User Guide in the related support articles. However, if you're a rota overseer, read on!

In this article

First Steps: Enabling My Rotas functionality
Adding a new rota
Adding teams, team members and roles
Enabling rota sign up
Publishing and distributing a rota
Adding people directly to a rota
Assigning roles
Processing accept/decline responses
Removing people from a rota
Adding rota notes to highlight special dates
Adding dates to a rota
Removing dates from a rota

Enabling the My Rotas functionality

This first section is for Rotas module Users, but is included here to help overseers understand the optional rota features available, which if enabled, may help them better manage the rotas they oversee in My ChurchSuite.

Before Overseers can access the My Rotas section in My ChurchSuite, the functionality must first be enabled by a Rotas module User in the My ChurchSuite Options in ChurchSuite. Head to the Rotas module options, accessed via the cogwheels icon in the top-right corner of the module in ChurchSuite (you'll need at least Manage module permission to be able to access the module options). Click into the My ChurchSuite tab.

Click the Edit button in the Settings section to open the options menu.

Enable My ChurchSuite access – this setting enables (or disables) the My Rotas section within My ChurchSuite entirely. Once enabled, designated ministry Overseers and all rota members with active or future rota dates will be able to access a My Rotas menu within My ChurchSuite.

Enable All Rotas access - enables those with My Rotas access to also access a read-only All Rotas report, which is essentially an all rotas 'overview' page for a selected date. See the related support article for further information.

Enable Swaps - this settings enables (or disabled) the rota swap functionality for rota members across all rotas, although overseers can always make people changes to the rotas they oversee. If disabled, rota members will be unable to process their own swaps.

If you are a Multi-Site customer, set the sites to Allow overseers to add members from - either All Sites or Just the ministry's site.

Adding a new Rota

To add a new rota, click the + Rota button located on the right-hand side at the top of the Rotas section.

On the Add Rota page that opens, select the Ministry – only ministries that you oversee are available in the drop-down list. Next, work through each of the rota settings, selecting the Service to which the new rota is to be assigned (optional), and the rota Date range. While it's possible to extend an existing rota by adding dates individually (explained in this article), it's intended that new 'follow on' rotas are created. In this way you can work on a draft 'follow on' rota for the next season while the existing published rota is running. Next, set the Days that rota members serve and the serving Times. You can minimise false rotas clashes by setting accurate serving times that reflect when your rota members are actually serving. So if the worship team usually arrive at 9am for the 10.30am Sunday service, set the serving times to run from 9am and link the rota to your 10.30am service.

Note the option to disable Clashes for a rota - perhaps is a rota serves part way through a service - which will always clash with other rotas e.g. the 'communion' or 'readings' rotas, which typically happen during a service – see our related support article for further information about managing clashes. Finally, enable or disable the rota Accept/Decline functionality for the rota as required. If enabled, rota members will be able to accept or decline their rota dates, giving you greater clarity about those serving and where the gaps are that still need filling.

Next, set the rota's Team Rotation (the rotation options are explained below) – either Ad Hoc, Simple Rotation or Serve 13. Depending on the rotation selected, further rotation options may be available:

  • For Serve 13, which requires at least four weekly teams (or five teams if you have a designated week 5 team), you'll have the option to select the Teams to Rotate.
  • For Simple Rotation you'll have the option to select the Repeat Rota, Teams to Rotate, the Start Team and the Serving Pattern.
  • For Ad Hoc there is no team rotation, but you can set the Repeat Rota.

Finally, tick to Allow members to sign up to future dates on the rota – see later in this article for further information about Rota sign up. All of the rota settings listed in the left-hand column can be later changed, enabled/disabled if necessary. All the rota settings in the right-hand column must be set now in order to build the grid of rota dates - these cannot be changed once the rota is added.

Which Team Rotation?
  • Ad Hoc. If the ministry doesn't follow any serving pattern, e.g. once per month on the first Sunday, select AdHoc. When you add a new rota you'll manually assign people or teams to each date on an ad hoc basis based on their availability.
  • Simple Rotation. Create any number of teams (a team can have any number of members) and have them follow a simple rotation pattern. For example, if a team serves every 3 weeks, create three teams; if a team serves every 6 weeks, create six teams. With 'Simple Rotation', specify which 'Teams to Rotate', the 'Start Team' for the rotation, and the 'Serving Pattern' for each team. It's also possible to exclude teams from the rotation, e.g. a Reserves team.
  • Serve 13. Four weekly teams serving once per month, e.g. Team 1 on the first week, Team 2 on the second week, etc. On months with five weeks, the extra week will be covered once a year by each weekly team in rotation – during a year each team will typically serve 13 times. You must have four teams to be able to select Serve 13. It's also possible to use Serve 13 with five teams, with Team 5 being assigned to all fifth weeks of the year.

Scrolling down the Add Rota page - and before clicking Save Changes - review the ministry's Members section, which lists the ministry's Teams, Members and assigned Roles. Take a moment to familiarise yourself with the team/member/role functionality available here.

At this stage, prior to saving your new rota, you can make changes to teams, members and roles, which will then be applied to the new rota you are creating. Making certain team changes - like adding or removing a team member - will automatically Update existing rotas, but you can optionally choose not to update those existing rotas if you wish.

When you have finished making team/member/role changes, click Save Changes to create the new rota. For Ad Hoc, an empty grid of rota dates is produced, ready for you to populate with people on an ad hoc basis. For Simple Rotation and Serve 13, the rotas will be automatically populated with the ministry's Teams, Members and Roles in the specified rotation. The new rota is created with a Draft status - it's only visible to you and other ministry overseers. See later in this article for further information on publishing and distribute a rota.

Adding teams, team members and roles

Introduced briefly in the last section, let's take a moment to look in more details at the ministry's Teams section. Within the rota, scroll down and click on the Teams tab. Note also the Roles tab, where new roles can be added for the ministry and existing roles can be edited and re-ordered. In "Role View" your rota will respect Roles order - for example, you may prefer your leader roles to be the first roles listed on your rotas.

From the Teams tab you can Add, Edit, Order and Delete teams and you can Add or Remove [team] Members and add/edit roles.

When adding a Team, the naming-convention you use is entirely up to you. Your ministry may simply have one team, perhaps called "Ministry Members", representing the 'pool' of all ministry members (ideal for Ad Hoc rotas); or you may have multiple teams that each serve in rotation on rotas; in which case you might name your teams accordingly e.g Week 1, Week 2, or Team A, Team B. You might even have a Reserves team. Click Save Changes to add the new team.

You can optionally change the Order of teams. This will only affect new rotas – changing the team order will not change the order or rotation for existing rotas.

Use the Up and Down arrow controls to set the ministry's team Order as desired. The team order is used when adding a new rota with Simple Rotation or Serve 13. Click Save Changes when finished.

You can add people to any team - contacts or children - by clicking the + Member button at the top of each Team.

On the Add member pop-up, Search and select a person to add to the team and optionally assign their Roles as appropriate - roles change from white to your account colour when selected. Where there are existing rotas for the ministry you'll also have the option to Update existing rotas i.e. the added team member will also be added to all future dates on the selected rotas where their team is currently set to serve; or you can untick the rota update option and the new member will be added to the team only - perhaps if their addition to a team relates to a new rota you'll create in the future.

You can Add or Edit roles of team members. Changes made here won't update roles currently assigned on existing rotas, but will apply when new rotas are created and when adding the person to dates on existing rotas ad hoc.

Selected roles will change from white to your account colour. Click Save Changes to apply the changes.

Enabling rota sign up

A great feature of ChurchSuite's rota functionality is the ability to create rotas that ministry members can sign up to based on their availability. Rota sign up is ideal for growing ministry team numbers, filling rota gaps, or publishing an empty or partially-completed rota to invite ministry members to sign-up to populate.

You can to set a sign-up capacity for all future dates on a rota, or just for certain dates – perhaps where you know in advance that you'll need extra people serving for a special event or service. Once the sign-up capacity for a rota date has been reached, no further sign-ups to that date are possible. Rotas sign up can be enabled on a rota-by-rota basis, giving those overseeing rotas complete flexibility to choose the rota-recruitment method that works best for their ministry. Rota sign-up can also be disabled at any time.

Rotas with Sign up enabled are distinguished in the rota profile - the profile shows which optional features are enabled for the rota. Click Edit to make changes to a rota's settings and to enable (or disable) rota Sign up (and other features).

Once rota Sign up is enabled, ministry members viewing the rota can click + Sign Up for any rota dates they are not already serving and where there is available capacity. A progress indicator on each rota date shows the current sign-up progress.

Once signed up, a rota member cannot cancel a sign-up, but they can Organise a swap or, if 'rota accept/decline' is enabled for the rota, they can Decline a previously-accepted sign up to a rota date.

Publishing and distributing a rota

An information message is displayed at the top of the rota whenever you're working with a Draft rota. Click Publish rota to change the rota's status to published. A published rota is visible to the rota's members when they access My ChurchSuite or their personal Rota Page (see section on Rota Accept/Decline for further information about the Rota Page).

You'll likely now want to let all your rota members know about the newly-published rota. Click Send rota.

On the Send rota pop-up, select the range of rota Dates you wish to send and the Recipients to be notified. Note the recipient options to send to All members, Not responded or Not sent. Using these options you can easily re-send previously sent rotas or send to just those rota members that have not been previously sent a rota - ideal if you've made some rota changes and you just want to let the newly-added people know, or if you wish to chase up those who've not yet responded. For rotas with Accept/Decline enabled, ChurchSuite will visually distinguish the unsent, sent and responded to serving status of each rota member for each rota date. You can customise the rota email Subject and Message - including using a ::first_name:: merge field for personalisation of each each email. By default a rota email will contain a curated list of each recipient's rota dates and serving details (the date list), but you can optionally tick to Include the rota grid and a rota member contact details table in the email. When you are ready, click Send.

The rota emails are sent - one email per recipient (not one email per member per rota date). Rota members without an email address will persist on the rota with an unsent serving status. Note that those without an email address are also unable to access My ChurchSuite, so you will likely need to follow up with those rota members outside of My ChurchSuite.

Adding people directly to a rota

Managing rotas is all about getting the right people in the right roles on the right dates, and as such rotas often require lots of changes. You can make all manner of ad hoc changes to rota members and assigned roles for any rota date, without those changes affecting the underlying ministry's Teams list. Begin by clicking + Add to date (or Add [to role] - explained later in this section and only surfaced when the rota is viewed By Role).

The Add to date pop up opens. Either select an existing ministry member from the People list, or use the Search to add a person from outside of the ministry member list - adding ad hoc people to rota dates like this does not add them to the underlying ministry Members list, just to that rota date. However, you may prefer to make more permanent member changes in the underlying ministry's Teams section and apply the change to all future rota dates. Note that you can also add entire Teams to a rota date. People are added to a rota date with the roles they have been assigned in the underlying ministry's Teams list, but roles can be changed ad hoc on the rota (explained later in this article). Children are distinguished on lists and rotas by a 'child' icon next to their name. Only available ministry members that are not already on the rota date are listed. Names shown in red indicate that the person is already serving on another rota at the same date/time, which will give rise to a clash (that can be overridden) when adding them to your rota.

It's also possible to add people directly to roles on rota dates. Hover your cursor over a role and click Add [to role].

A curated list of available team members who have that role assigned in the underlying ministry's Teams list is provided. Either select from the list or use the Search to add someone from outside of the ministry's Teams list.

Assigning roles

Roles can be added or removed on a rota without affecting the roles assigned in the ministry's underlying Teams list, enabling you to make ad hoc role changes on any given rota data. Rota members can be assigned multiple roles – in Role view this means a rota member will be shown on a rota date more than once, listed once under each role that they are assigned to.

To add or edit a rota member's role, select Edit roles from the Actions menu next to their name. For those without any roles the Action is labelled Add role.

In the Add role/Edit roles pop up, select roles from the list - selected roles change from white to your account colour. Click Save Changes once you've made your role selection.

Processing accept/decline responses

For rotas with Accept/Decline enabled, rota members are able to Accept and Decline their assigned rota dates via their personal Rota Page (a Rota Page link is included in their 'Send rota' emails) or from the My Rotas section of My ChurchSuite. Ministry overseers can always Accept or Decline on behalf of any rota member - this may be helpful where a rota member doesn't have an email address, but has verbally indicated their serving responses for you to process.

From the Actions menu next a person's name on the rota select Accept or Decline as appropriate. Where a response has been previously made, only the other response option will be surfaced on the menu. Accept and Decline actions are not surfaced where a person has added Unavailability, or when the rota has a Draft status.

The current serving status of each rota member for each rota date is always visible on all rota views. Let's explore the various serving statuses that you might see on your rotas.

  • Pending [unsent] - where the rota has not yet been sent for that person/date - distinguished un-styled with no icon
  • Sent - where the rota has been previously sent for that person/date - distinguished italicised with a yellow ? icon to indicate you're awaiting a response
  • Accepted - distinguished un-styled with a green tick icon
  • Declined - distinguished in red strikethrough font with a red cross icon - hover over the person's name to see the a decline comment optionally added
  • Unavailability - distinguished in red strikethrough font with a red cross icon - hover over the person's name to see any unavailability comment added
  • Clash - where a person is serving on other rotas on the same date/time - styled in red font and distinguished with the serving status icons above - hover over the person's name to see details of the other clashing rota/s
  • Child - distinguished with a child icon before the rota member's name

Removing people from a rota

To remove a person from a rota date, click to open the Action menu next to the person's name. You can Swap member - and search/select a different person, or you can select Remove member.

The Remove member pop up opens. In addition to Removing from [the selected] date, you can optionally remove the rota member from All future dates on the same rota and Remove from linked ministry entirely (which will remove them from all teams in the underlying ministry). Click Remove Member to save your changes.

Adding rota notes to highlight special dates

Special occasions, like Baptism services, can often catch people out on rotas – extra visitors may mean additional team members are needed. Rota notes are rota-specific, allowing you to add a custom message to any rota date, which is visible in all rotas views and included in rota reminder emails. To add a rota note, select Edit date from the Date's Actions menu.

On the Edit date pop up, type your note or message in the Notes field. You can add multi-line notes (with line breaks) and even include emojis or short URL links if you wish. Click Save Changes when finished.

The note is added to the rota date and surfaces on all rota views.

If a service leader has added a service note to a service date (in ChurchSuite), this will also be surfaced on all rotas linked to that service – service notes are shown italicised above un-styled rota notes.

Adding dates to a rota

You can easily add additional dates to a rota. Dates can only be added individually - it's intended that 'follow on' rotas are created for the next season as a rota is ending, rather than endlessly extending existing rotas. Overseers receive rota expiry reminders in the weeks leading up to the final dates on a rota; prompting you that a new 'follow on' rota is needed. However, to add a date to a rota - perhaps for a special event - click the + Date button at the top of the rota page.

On the Add date pop up, enter the Date to add and Start Time and any optional rota Notes. If Rota sign up is enabled, set the Maximum sign-ups for the date being added. Click Add Date to save the changes.

The new date is added to the rota ready for you to assign people.

Removing dates from a rota

Removing dates from a rota will also remove all rota members and their assigned role(s) for that date. You have two options...

You can either clear the rota date, which will remove all members for that date and leave the date in place on the rota; or you can remove the date entirely. Neither of these changes make any changes to your underlying ministry Teams list. Before deleting a date it may be helpful to consider what your rota members expect to see when they're viewing their rota. A deleted (missing) date may be confusing to them, but an empty date with a suitable rota Note added may be clearer.

From the Date Actions menu, select Clear date or Delete date as appropriate. You'll be asked to confirm the change.

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