How to create a rota
In this article
The process of producing rotas begins with adding your ministries, adding each ministry's teams and members, and optionally assigning team member roles. Once ministries are added - a task you'll likely do once and then periodically manage - you can produce rotas for your ministries. Where a ministry serves multiple services you will produce separate rotas for each service, with each rota based on the same underlying ministry. However, if the ministry's teams, members and roles are significantly different for each service, you'll need to add separate service-specific ministries to produce service-specific rotas. In this article, we'll follow this same workflow – adding a new Ministry and then later in the article, we'll produce the Rotas. If ministries have already been added then you can use the links above to jump straight into Adding rotas.
Adding a new ministry
Navigate to the Ministries section of the Rotas module. Note also the ministry Actions for existing ministries in the list to View, Duplicate, Edit, Archive and Delete. Click Add ministry.
On the Add ministry pop-up, give the ministry a suitable Name, e.g. "AV/Media", "Refreshments", "Preaching", or "Set up".
Next, set ministry defaults for when this ministry typically serves - the serving day/s, times, team rotation, and repeat rota. Later, when producing rotas, these ministry defaults will be suggested, but you can override these defaults if adding rotas for different services. Note that rota clash will be more accurately detected if the serving times reflect the actual time range within which people are expected to serve, rather than the service start and end time. For example, a "Welcome" ministry serving at a serving starting at 10.30 am might be expected to serve from 9.30 am. While clashes can be overridden, or even disabled for a rota, it's often helpful to be alerted to unwanted clashes if people are being assigned to multiple rotas serving at the same time.
Next, set the Team Rotation. Again, this ministry default can be later overridden when adding rotas. For Ad Hoc and Simple Rotation ministries only, choose the Repeat Rota frequency, which determines how a rota's dates are generated for the days/times within the rota's date range. Repeat Rota is not an option for Serve 13 team rotation as this rotation is by nature always "Every week".
Which team rotation?
- Select Ad Hoc if the ministry doesn't follow a specific serving pattern. Rotas will be created with an empty grid of dates for you to manually assign people or teams to each date on the rota. You'll typically select Ad Hoc if the ministry has only one team representing the pool of all ministry members from which you assign people to rota dates on an ad hoc basis
- Select Simple Rotation for ministries that will have multiple teams that follow a team rotation pattern. For example, if a ministry's teams serve every other week you'll create two teams; if a ministry's teams serve every four weeks, you'll create four teams
- Select Serve 13 when teams serve on certain weeks of the month. Ministries with four teams serve once per month - Team 1 on the first week, Team 2 on the second week, etc. And for months with five weeks, week 5 is covered by each team in simple rotation - Team 1 is assigned to the first fifth Sunday of the year, Team 2 is assigned to the second fifth Sunday of the year, and so on. Across a calendar year, each team will serve 13 times rather than 12. Note that you can optionally add five teams to a Serve 13 ministry, with Team 5 assigned to all fifth Sundays on a rota
Continuing our example, we'll select Serve 13. Later in this article, we'll see how to add teams. Finally, for multi-site customers only, select the ministry's Site. Ministries are always site-specific. Where a ministry serves multiple sites, you will need to add a separate ministry for each site.
Click Save to add the ministry and be redirected to the ministry "View" page.
You can return to the ministry "View" at any time, perhaps to Edit and make changes. This is also the page where you can:
- assign ministry overseers
- enable/disable rota reminders
- communicate with ministry members
- manage ministry teams and roles
- add rotas for the ministry
- archive or delete the ministry
We'll cover each of these topics in the remainder of this article.
Assigning ministry overseers
Designated ministry overseers receive swap and decline notification emails for the ministry rotas they oversee (if rota swaps and accept/decline are enabled in the module options). They also receive unavailability clash notification emails if added unavailability causes a clash for a person assigned to a rota date and rota expiry reminders. Overseers can fully manage all their rotas and teams in the member-facing My ChurchSuite without needing Rotas module User access. In this way, you can empower volunteer ministry leaders to organise and manage just their rotas.
From the ministry "View" page, click Add overseer.
On the Add overseer pop-up, search and select the Address Book contact to be added as an overseer.
Click Save to add them.
You can add multiple overseers if you wish or return here in the future if you need to Remove an overseer.
Managing ministry roles
For each ministry, you can optionally define roles and then assign those roles to ministry members. For example, you may have roles to distinguish those who are team leaders or those who play different instruments in a worship ministry. It's also sometimes helpful to be able to communicate with just those ministry members in certain roles. While roles are added for a ministry, existing roles can be shared across multiple ministries. For each ministry, you can choose the role order, perhaps having a 'leader' role first. The role order is respected in rota views and reports when "Order by Role" is used. In this section, we'll focus on adding and managing roles. Later, we'll see how to assign and remove roles for team members in a ministry.
Working from the ministry's "View" page, navigate to the Roles tab and click Add role.
On the Add role pop-up, search and select from existing roles - the list filters as you type - or click +Add to create a new role, then click Save & Return to complete the process e.g. 'Leader', 'Helper'. Role names must be unique.
Click Save when you are done. Continue adding further ministry roles as needed. You can return to the roles list at any time, to View, Edit or Remove roles. Removing a role only removes it from this ministry – it will only be deleted when the role is no longer used for any other active or archived ministries.
In this next example, for a Worship ministry, there are multiple roles. Note the Order option to change the role order. Click on any order icon to open a pop-up through which roles can be re-ordered as desired.
In the next section, we'll see how roles are assigned or removed from ministry team members.
Managing ministry teams
When producing rotas, teams can be rotated (See earlier in this article for a description of Simple rotation and Serve 13 rotations). A ministry may also have just one team representing the pool of ministry members from which people will be assigned to rota dates on an Ad Hoc basis. For example, for a Worship ministry, you might group bank members in teams where each band typically serves together on the rota; or you might prefer a single team of ministry members comprising all your musicians and vocalists, and then assign ministry members to rotas on an Ad Hoc basis.
A ministry must always have at least one team, and a Serve 13 ministry must always have four or five teams. In this context, a ministry may comprise one or more members; a team may even currently have no members. People can be assigned to multiple teams in a ministry and be assigned different roles in different teams.
From the ministry "View, navigate into the Teams tab. Newly-added Ad Hoc ministries are initially added with one team called "Ministry Members". New Simple Rotation and Serve 13 ministries are initially added with four weekly teams, "Week 1", "Week 2" etc. Teams can be added, edited/renamed, reordered and deleted as required. Note that adding and reordering teams will not update existing rotas - these team changes affect the rota rotation and require new rotas to be produced for the changes to take effect.
With teams added, suitably named and ordered as required, you can now begin adding team members – click Add member.
On the Add member pop-up, search and select each person to be added to the team. Where roles exist, optionally select the role/s that apply to the selected person for that team. Assigned roles change from grey to blue when selected. Where the ministry serves Ad Hoc and has a single team of ministry members, you will typically assign all the roles that each team member can serve – e.g. a worship leader who also plays keyboard, drums and guitar - as this will help you later when adding ministry members to rota dates using the "Add to role" option, which auto-suggests just those people assigned with that role – ensuring you'll never add a drummer to a bass guitarist role if they can't play the bass guitar!
Click Save to add the team member. Continue adding team members as appropriate. Both children and Address Book contacts can be assigned to teams – children are distinguished in lists with a child icon next to their name.
You can easily make role changes – perhaps if someone's role changes in the future. Either select Edit from the team member Actions...
... or use the inline role editing feature, which is enabled by hovering anywhere in the Roles column of a Team and clicking Edit.
Make the relevant role changes and click Save to apply those changes. Assigned roles change from grey to blue when selected.
In future, and having added rotas, when adding or removing ministry team members, Users will be given the option to Update existing rotas - to apply the team member change to all future rota dates on the selected rota/s. In this way, you can make team member changes to a ministry and choose whether or not to update existing rotas.
Either click the Add rota button at the top of the Rotas list...
...or click Add rota from the top of the Ministry "View" page.
On the Add rota pop-up, select the Ministry (if not already pre-selected), the Service to which this rota relates (optional) and specify the Date range for the rota. You might create a rota to run for a term, a year, or even just a single date (perhaps for an event that you are running) – you have complete flexibility. You can easily later extend a rota or produce a new follow-on rota. Note that the rota Name is pre-populated but you can optionally change this if you wish.
The rota Days and serving Times are pre-populated with the ministry's default settings, but you can override and change these if necessary. For example, where a ministry serves multiple services, you will choose the appropriate Service from the list and set the rota Start and End times to reflect the rota member serving times serve for that service:
The Team Rotation and Repeat Rota are pre-selected using the ministry defaults, but these too can be overridden and changed if desired.
For an Ad Hoc Team Rotation, there are no teams to rotate because ministry members will be manually added to rota dates on an ad hoc basis. The Repeat Rota determines how often the rota Days repeat within the rota's date range. Most Sunday rotas typically repeat Every week but other options are available.
For a Simple Rotation Team Rotation rota - typically with two or more teams - set the Repeat Rota, typically "Every week", choose the Teams to Rotate (perhaps excluding a reserves team), and choose the Start Team for the rotation.
For a Simple Rotation, notice also the Serving Pattern options that determine the number of consecutive rota dates each team will serve before the rotation moves on to the next team in the rotation. For example, for a rota where teams serve for two consecutive weeks before moving on to the next team set the serving pattern to 2 Date(s). If teams serve for an entire month before rotating on to the next team for the next month, set the serving pattern to 1 Month(s).
For a Serve 13 Team Rotation, choose the Teams to Rotate (perhaps excluding a reserves team). Be sure to include four or five weekly teams, otherwise, the rota cannot be created.
Which team rotation?
The three Team Rotation types determine how rota dates are generated within the rota's range of dates, but they also determine how ministry teams are auto-populated to rota dates in rotation (Simple Rotation and Serve 13), or whether an empty grid of rota dates is created ready to assign ministry members on an Ad Hoc basis.
Teams in a rotation have distinct advantages over ad hoc (no rotation). Not only can ministry members better manage their serving commitments by knowing ahead of time which weeks they can expect to be serving (which is especially helpful for parents/carers with young children and the planning of the family diary), but populating the rota with people and roles is a considerably quicker process for those responsible for producing rotas. While a new rota is initially produced using the ministry's teams in rotation, rota members can of course still add unavailability and process swaps when they need to.
Of course, some ministries, like Worship, often lend themselves to ad hoc serving, where the mix of band members on each rota date may be a selective mix of musicians chosen on a date-by-date basis. Typically, ministries like Worship and Preaching don't follow a team rotation serving pattern.
When adding rotas, optionally enable/disable Clashes, Accept/Decline and the rota Expiry Reminders that will be sent to the designated ministry overseers when the rota is coming to its end. Rota Sign up through My ChurchSuite can also be optionally enabled and the maximum number of sign-ups per rota date specified - see the related support articles for further information about these features.
Finally, click Save to create the rota.
Create follow-on rotas or extend existing ones?
A rota is always produced for a range of dates – which means that a rota will always come to an end at some point. You may prefer to create new follow-on rotas, but it's also possible to extend rotas, either adding individual dates - perhaps for special services like Good Friday or Christmas - or adding a range of dates. See the related support article Working with rotas for further information about extending rotas.
Newly-created rotas are added with a Draft status, allowing module users and ministry overseers to further manage or make ad hoc changes to the rota without it being visible to the rota's members in My ChurchSuite. Only Published rotas are visible to rota members in My ChurchSuite, but you can make changes to draft or published rotas at any time – see our related support article on Working with rotas for further information about the wide range of rota-management functionality available. Note that rota reminders are only sent for published rotas.
When you are ready to distribute your draft rota and make it available to the rota's members, click Publish.
Note also the options available on the rota page to Communicate, Edit, Download, Print or Delete the rota.
Once a rota is Published, use the Send rota option to distribute the rota to the rota's members.
From the Send rota pop-up, optionally further customise the range of rota dates and recipients to send to, and optionally further customise the accompanying email subject/message. Each recipient's rota email will contain their curated list of serving dates, but you can optionally include a rota date grid and rota member contact details list.
Sent rotas are logged against each recipient rota member's profile page (not against the rota communication log). A personal rota page link is embedded in the email, giving rota members a curated list of all their serving commitments (accessible even if the rota member doesn't have My ChurchSuite access).
You can view all of your rotas in the Rotas section at any time – click on a rota to view it. The rota Search filters the list as you type, making it easy to find a particular rota within a long list. Or use the Advanced Search to further filter using other criteria.
Deleting a ministry is a destructive action that also deletes all past, active and future rotas associated with the ministry. Instead, where a ministry is no longer needed, you can archive the ministry, retaining all historic, active and future rotas for that ministry. Archived ministries can be set as active again. Within the Ministries section, you can easily switch between viewing Active and Archived ministries.
When a ministry is archived, ministry members remain assigned to the archived ministry, but they are excluded from certain reports. For example, the Not in a ministry report only matches against active ministries - those in archived ministries are included in the report's results if they are not serving in an active ministry. Similarly, the Ministry members report and Multi-ministry members report excludes archived ministries, listing members of active ministries in the report results.
To archive a ministry, navigate to the ministry's "View" page, click More and select Archive. Archiving a ministry will make no changes to the ministry's overseers, roles, teams, default serving times or rotation, or the ministry's team members and assigned team roles. Active and future rotas persist unaffected by the ministry being archived.
You can easily reinstate an archived ministry. From the archived ministry's "View" page, click Set as active.
Deleting a ministry is a destructive and irreversible action - consider archiving, as described in the previous section. Deleting a ministry will delete all linked rotas - past, active and future - and any ministry-specific roles. Smart tags with ministry conditions may also be affected. To delete a ministry, click More and select Delete.
Confirm the deletion as instructed. If in doubt, archive first, delete later!