When You Don’t Like It

Let’s face it. There isn’t a lone single Church Management Software that will fit every church. If there were, there would be no marketplace competition. There would be no comparison charts. There would be one software that offered all of the features that every church needs.

It doesn’t exist.

It’s why churches spend months, sometimes years, making a decision on which software to use. It’s why people play with demo versions in their free time and offer suggestions to churches on which software they should use. It’s why churches sometimes switch to different companies based on their growing and changing needs.

Even some software companies themselves will tell you when their software doesn’t meet your church’s needs. Sometimes, they’ll even help migrate your data for free.

But, at the end of the day, sometimes we have features we just don’t care for, we find it difficult to navigate, or what we want isn’t offered within that software.

This can be particularly frustrating for those ministry leaders who aren’t tasked with using the software on a daily basis. Perhaps you’re a small group leader and you’ve been told you need to use the software for small group messaging and attendance. What’s wrong with the way you’ve been doing it? Perhaps you’re a ministry team leader who has recently been told you need to use the software for volunteer scheduling? What’s wrong with our old calendar-grid spreadsheets?

While nothing is ‘wrong’ with the way you’ve been doing things, sometimes church leaders need data that can only come from using a church management software.

Typically areas of the software are linked, or fields are auto-updated This means the church leaders don’t need to assimilate data from different spreadsheets and emails. The software takes care of that for them, which saves them valuable time.

Here’s some suggestions if you find yourself in a position of ‘just not liking it’:

Do:

  1. Ask why. You’re a ministry leader and in some churches that means you’re a volunteer. If you are paid staff, you’re probably putting in some unpaid overtime hours. It’s okay to ask your leaders why they need you to use the software.
  2. Be a cheerleader. Those serving on your team and other ministry leaders may be struggling with change, as well. Support your leaders by being a ‘cheerleader’ for the software.
  3. Just do it. At the end of the day, there are things we’re not going to like. As one Pastor said, ‘it’s okay to admit that there are parts of your job you don’t like.’
  4. Keep it private. If you really don’t like the software or how it’s used, talk privately to your Pastor or the database administrator.
  5. Ask for training. Learn the software. Ask for training as often as you need it. Ask if a leader or administrator will lead a team training for your team.

Don’t:

  1. Go rogue. Remember that each action you take within the software may impact another area of the software. Don’t take too many actions until you understand how they might impact another leader in your church.
  2. No public shaming. Other leaders are probably also being asked to use the software. Other church members are learning to navigate this. There’s a reason your church leaders have chosen this software. They need it. Help them in their endeavors.
  3. Be a complainer. You may not like it, but we can choose joy. Keep a smile on your face!
  4. No public shaming. I’ll say it again because it bears repeating. You are a leader in the church. People are looking up to you. You’ve been asked to make this change and you should assume that your church leaders have entered this phase with a lot of prayer, and counsel. This is probably not a decision they took lightly. As a leader, if you are struggling with change, it’s safe to assume that others not in a leadership position are also struggling with change. Stay positive and encourage them. Even on days you don’t feel like it.
  5. Don’t do it alone. If training is offered – attend. If you need private training during an off time, ask for it. If you get off work at 11pm and want trained at a midnight, just ask. If your team needs trained on a Saturday morning, make sure there’s coffee. Your software administrator is probably happy to help.

Remember, there’s no perfect software and sometimes, even when we think we’ve found the best one, there are aspects that just don’t work the way want them to.

Trust your church leaders and know we’re all on the same team!

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When Words Cannot Express…

Helping our college-aged children make decisions about their future, and one of our younger children starting a new school, and planning a family vacation, and and and…

…wasn’t enough change.

Nope. Not enough change for our family.

Earlier this year, God also called us to a new church. And sometimes, even when you know it’s God, and even when your joy is found in following His will, it’s tough.

Very rarely on this blog will I mention a church by name. I know a lot of people at a lot of churches and para-church organizations and because of our professional relationships, I get to know things about their churches and organizations and we talk about what’s happening and how they are navigating their own challenges.

But I’m about to mention this church. Because they are setting an example.

We began attending in June,

However, we have not taken the next step to join with the church as members.

And then this week…

There was a death in my family. And I was faced with booking some last minute travel and making some last minute schedule changes.

So here we are: having left one church; not yet members of another. And I had a second moment of feeling alone.

But unlike some other areas of my life, the church we are attending is displaying Jesus and showing his love. This church – these people – have reached out to me in so many ways.

I sent an email to the Pastor around 11pm on Monday. On Tuesday morning I woke up to emails and texts (he had used the database to email the prayer team…since this blog is all about databases and processes). One person actually wrote out a prayer for me and my family in an email. Throughout the day on Tuesday I received calls, more emails, more texts.

My boss himself is stepping in to handle some things that should fall directly on my shoulders. He’s picking up my responsibilities. Servant Leadership.

So thank you, Fairview Baptist Church. Words cannot express how much I thank you for what you have shown our family and how grateful we are to know yours.

 

Feeling Alone

Recently  God called our family to make a change. It many ways it wasn’t an easy decision. It meant taking a new look at things we’d always felt were right or wrong. It meant going someplace we said we’d never go.

But in other ways it was easy. Because after a lot of prayer, counsel, and discernment, we knew it was where God was calling us.

This change also meant a new routine and thus, I find myself not regularly seeing the friends I had been seeing regularly.

Yet, I haven’t really connected with a new group of friends.

The old group of friends can’t understand why we’d make this decision.

The new group people seem like they already have their circles.

And I feel like this:

Parking Lot

Alone.

And I remember, that with God, I’m never truly alone. He’s got a plan, a purpose and a reason for this season.

Does this happen in our churches?

What about our church guests?

When I run a report of first time guests who didn’t return for a second visit, I want to hear their voices.

I want to ask:

Did you feel welcome or unwanted?

Was there confusion and chaos or did you feel calmness and clarity?

Did you feel alone or did you feel like you were among family?

Every Sunday we have first time guests who are doing something they’ve never done before: coming to our church. Which means, they aren’t doing whatever it was they did any previous Sunday.

Any change has the potential to cause someone to feel alone.

I pray this is never the case in our churches.

Support: From

This morning I posted about giving support to. You can read the entire post here.

It started like this:

This week I had some issues with the web site and the database.

I had confidence in my own abilities.

I can do this.

Fail.

I read through support documentation. I watched videos.

Another fail.

In the end I had to call tech support.

What did I get?

After-hours, personal, customer service and tech support.

Above and beyond the call of duty.

The best.

First class.

(And somehow, in each case, they were able to maintain the integrity of their own brand, and let me know the boundaries.)

Can I change the colors? Yes.

Can I change the fonts? No.

Can I upload media on a Saturday night  at 8pm when the site editor seems to be locked up?

Absolutely. Yes. You can. We are here to help!

It’s still Saturday night at 8pm, what happened to my menu colors?

We’re working on it.

Can I change the fonts?

No. (Still.)

And then – at the end of each call – I had the support rep. ask if they could pray for me, for our church, and for our business (the mission) we are working on together.

Think about this cycle: I called with a degree of frustration in my voice (and in my heart), I had people who set aside whatever they were doing to help me – to listen to my frustrations and walk with me through the problem-solving process, and at the end of it, we were praying together.

And I thought…

I summed up all of the thoughts I had about how I serve people.

But I also thought…

About how we receive support. And from whom.

How often do I try to do it all alone? And then, when I do need help, is my first thought to pray? To ask God for His help? To ask God what He wants?

While I was trying to make things happen in my time – and before I called support – I called friends. One friend knew a lot about databases, processes, and web sites, but knew very little about the church. Another friend knows a lot about church structures, but very little about database applications. So when I finally called proper support, I was thoroughly confused (and frustrated).

I think this has a broader application. When you’re going through a challenging time or trying to solve a problem, where is the first place you turn? Do you turn to friends who may not know about the situation? Are they giving you biblically-based and sound advice or do they tell you what you want to hear? Does acting on their advice create more confusion?

God wants us to come to Him first. Believe and trust His answers. Believe and trust He will make a way.

Support: To

This week I had some issues with the web site and the database.

I had confidence in my own abilities.

I can do this.

Fail.

I read through support documentation. I watched videos.

Another fail.

In the end I had to call tech support.

What did I get?

After-hours, personal, customer service and tech support.

Above and beyond the call of duty.

The best.

First class.

(And somehow, in each case, they were able to maintain the integrity of their own brand, and let me know the boundaries.)

Can I change the colors? Yes.

Can I change the fonts? No.

Can I upload media on a Saturday night  at 8pm when the site editor seems to be locked up?

Absolutely. Yes. You can. We are here to help!

It’s still Saturday night at 8pm, what happened to my menu colors?

We’re working on it.

Can I change the fonts?

No. (Still.)

And then – at the end of each call – I had the support rep. ask if they could pray for me, for our church, and for our business (the mission) we are working on together.

Think about this cycle: I called with a degree of frustration in my voice (and in my heart), I had people who set aside whatever they were doing to help me – to listen to my frustrations and walk with me through the problem-solving process, and at the end of it, we were praying together.

And I thought…

Am I passing this same level of personal customer service on TO the church? Am I setting a standard with the software or the web site that puts the church as a whole first? Do the church leaders feel like they are important, while we are still maintaining the integrity of the brand?

I hope so.

Have I communicated to the church (as a whole) that I love her? Have I communicated that nothing I do is out of selfishness or vain conceit, but that every communication, administration, or ‘church connections’ decision is based on how we, as a church, are connecting people to Christ and assisting in their walk with Christ?

I hope so.

Does the church know I pray for her?

I hope so.

Do the ministry leaders know I pray for them each individually by name?

I hope so.

And have I listened to the  needs of the ministry leaders to try to provide individual, personalized (and even after-hours) support?

I hope so.

I have the benefit of working with a lot of Christian-owned companies whose leaders understand that end of the day, we’re all on the same team, trying to accomplish a bigger and greater mission. And I get work with people at those companies who will make sacrifices for the mission. Even when it means after-hours, personalized, service.

Jesus displayed servant and sacrificial leadership. This week, I  had a few support people who displayed Jesus.

And my goal/challenge this week: to do the same.

 

 

Key Access

janitor keyring 2

There’s been a lot of talk among my peer group this week about settings and access.

Today I was looking at my key ring.

There are 6 keys. Four are to my office. 1 for my car. 1 for my house.

But the potential.

Our family owns six vehicles. There’s four cars (one for each driver), an old truck that we use for hauling, and a motorcycle. There’s a key for each one. Two of the vehicles are older models and have two keys (one for the doors, one for the ignition). That alone is eight keys just for vehicles.

I have a key to my mother’s house, a key to a storage shed, a key to our riding lawn-mower, and a key to our camper.

For a grand total of twelve.

If I combined those twelve with the keys to my office, I’d be carrying sixteen keys on my key ring.

Sixteen!

That doesn’t include those small, little, pesky keys – luggage, padlocks, desk drawers, filing cabinets, etc.

Here’s why I don’t carry them all with me every day:

  • It would be too heavy and over time, I get tired.
  • It would take up too much space in my purse – space that could be used for lip gloss, money…or ibuprofen.
  • It would be too difficult to get where I needed to go – sorting through 16 keys just to open a door or start a car.

So I don’t carry all sixteen. Each person in our family carries what they need.

But… (because isn’t there always)

We keep duplicate copies of our keys in a safe place that we can all access.

If my husband or one of my children locks themselves out of their car in another part of town, I can stop what I’m doing, go home, get their key, and come help them. None of us ever intends to lock ourselves out of our car (or the house), but we know who we can call if we do. And only the four of us know where those copies are kept and how to access them.

How this relates to our Church Management Software and data settings and security:

In my experience, it’s been very helpful to make sure the keys are distributed. Each person should have the keys they need to access their ministry vehicle. Each person should have the keys they need to unlock the doors they need to do their jobs.

We shouldn’t give one person too many keys to carry on one key ring all of the time – that’ll lead to tiredness, other job aspects not getting done, and jobs – in general – taking too much time (because that’s a lot of keys to sort through).

But, it’s good to know that there are other people who can access the keys to my job on those rare occasions that I get locked out.