The First Decision

I have been asked to write about our choice to switch and implement a new church management software.

It’s the reason I’ve taken some time off from this blog. I wanted to do some planning and organization. I want to be sure that I’m not throwing anyone or any software company under the bus. There were some tough decisions. I’m not even convinced they were all right, but they were (and) are best for the current situation.

I’ll start with the first decision.

When I started working at Fairview Baptist Church (9.26.16 to be exact), we were using a Church Management Software that seemed disconnected. When I executed a command to publish something to the public calendar, it didn’t show up on our public calendar. In hindsight, no one knew how to integrate these. The attendance and check-in systems weren’t overall integrated with the financial system which resulted in some people being entered into the system twice. Again, in hindsight, it would appear that no one knew how to solve this problem. The biggest issue I had was in running custom data reports. When I tried to save them, it came with a warning that if it wasn’t saved in exactly the right place – including typing the letter of the drive and all of the backslashes and semi-colons, that it would be stored on the server and inaccessible.  I’m sort of a cloud-person. I love creating, running, and re-running custom reports. Inaccessible data isn’t in my vocabulary. Besides, if it’s inaccessible, what good does it do us?

The end-user interface wasn’t there either. It was an office productivity tool only.

So my first task was to investigate new software programs. And I did: Fellowship One, Elexio, Breeze, Church Community Builder (CCB), Planning Center, Rock, and The City. There were a few others. Those I just mentioned made my short list. I signed up for demos and my bosses and I had some fun playing with the different features.

I talked to my bosses about what they disliked about the current software, where they thought processes could be improved, and how a new software could help with that. I talked to a few leaders in the church – asking them the same questions. Where they felt current processes could be improved and how a new software could help.

Based on their answers, I narrowed it down to one software, however, the cost for that software was greater than our budget would allow so I broke down a few areas and refocused. Rather than only think long-term, I thought about the immediate need. What will solve these problems right now. In the end we went with Breeze Church Management Software. I know that eventually our Church will outgrow this software. We will reach a point where we need more features than it gives. We’re already seeing that in some respects.

Breeze Church Management Software is an excellent software. It helps with office productivity, but provides a good end-user interface as a church directory. I’m impressed with their app, I’m also impressed with their ‘follow-ups’ feature. Their customer service some of the best I’ve experienced.

Overall, I’d say Breeze would be in my top three of the Church Management Software category. It’s got a lot of outstanding features. It’s got a good price and excellent customer service and support.

Our Real Life Experience

I’ve had a request to journal the real life decision-making process and on-boarding experience(s) at Fairview Baptist Church.  I’ve received permission to journal our experiences by our Senior Pastor, Matt Capps.  I’m excited to start this and I hope you can learn from our experiences.

Along the way, I’ll still give you glimpses into how I use Church Community Builder (CCB) at The Gathering Community Church and how I often compare the two.

I’ll start this journal later this week. Thanks for reading!

Remember What Is Important

I really like this article from Christianity Today. Read it all the way through to end.

My favorite Church buzzwords are: connections, assimilation, next steps, database, metrics, and follow-up. I really like seeing people connected and tracking numbers.

It’s what I do for fun. On weekends. In my free time.

Then this line jumped out at me.

This is not a church numbers game we’re playing. People’s lives and eternities are at stake.

Remember that every connection has the potential to lead to a life transformation. Have a great weekend!

Let’s Get Them Connected

If I could devote my life career to one thing, it would be Church Connections. I love my church (I love The Church – capital C).  There have been times in my life where I have needed things and my church family has been there for me in ways that my ‘real’ family was not.

Even better than my needs or my family’s needs being met, are the ways I can serve others. We all have gifts and talents and we all have a desire to serve and give. Turn on the news at Thanksgiving. You’ll see stories of people serving in shelters. Turn on the news at Christmas and you’ll see stories of toy drives and inspirational stories of people giving to others.We all want to feel like we’re a part of something greater than ourselves. We all want to see our lives as having purpose and significance.

How can we bring that to the local church? And, how can a Church Management Software be of use?

First, how do we bring the joy of serving to the church? Through technology or personal connections, you can find out where someone is gifted and talented. You can help them discover their spiritual gifts and find out what motivates them. Here are some questions I like to ask when meeting with a potential volunteer:

  1. What gets you out of bed in the morning – what are the issues you are passionate about?
  2. If you could work full time for a church, what would be your dream job?

Next, I go to my ministry team directors and ask them what types of people are needed for their team? What gifts, talents, and skill set does someone need to possess to serve on their team?

*Note: this is not a comprehensive list and there are some other factors, but this is a start.

Your Church Management Software can help you match people with ministries.  I’ll use CCB (Church Community Builder) as my example here because I think they do the best job at this.

A Ministry Team Director will build their positions.  Let’s say my position is door greeter and I choose what gifts, talents, and skills I’m looking for in a door greeter.

At the same time, the end-user is able to update their own profile and choose their gifts, talents, abilities.

These areas of the software can be customized for your Church using your language.

The Ministry Team Director can run a report to see who meets their needs and sort it based on percentage. (ie, this person meets 7 of your 10 qualifications, etc.)

If the position is an open/listed position, the end user can search ways to serve based on the gifts, talents, and abilities they’ve entered.

In a perfect world, the person will contact that Ministry Team Director who is probably already looking at a report with that person’s name on it. And now you’ve got the right person, filling the right position.

This is just an example of how CCB can be used.  With Breeze, I’ve chosen to build a custom form listing  our ministry teams.  Someone can fill out that form and the results can be sent to the team leader for personal follow up.

When it comes to serving, I don’t think a Church Management Software can ever take the place of personal interviews or the connection someone will have with their Ministry Team Director or with those with whom they serve. But it can help you take a step in the right direction and fill those gaps on your ministry teams.

How have you used a Church Management Software to help you with connections?