by Steve Caton,Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Church Community Builder
If you’re like most pastors, choosing your next church management solution (ChMS) may not be on the top of your list. You might be inclined to let your technology guy take the reins or simply avoid the process completely. As I wrote about in Getting Disciple Making Right, too often church leaders fail to see the connection between technology and ministry. Therefore, they underestimate the role a ChMS plays in key decision making.
Part of the reason so many leaders are reluctant to begin a search for another ChMS is because they don’t have the right decision criteria or fear it will be a waste of time. Here are five things that will ensure your next search is a profitable one. If you follow these five steps, you’re much more likely to end up with a technology solution that will enhance your ministry rather than create more headaches.
- Begin with your ministry processes. Your church operates through a series of processes and systems. Start your search by mapping out the most critical ones. If designed properly, they should be working even in the absence of technology. Understanding how everything works within your organization will help you understand how technology can help you sustain, measure, and improve the processes in your church.
- Complete an internal needs assessment. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you know when you find it? (You won’t!) Take one hour with your key ministry leaders and, using what you learned in Step 1, outline exactly what it is you love most about your current solution and what frustrates you. Determine if the frustrations are really a training issue or a functionality concern. If it is functionality, then you’ll know what you need to evaluate carefully as you select a new ChMS.
- Identify a “must have’s list” of features and functionality. Ask your frontline ministry staff what their “must have’s list” would be in a new technology solution. You’ll be surprised by how quickly they answer that question. Those who interact with the system the most are very acutely aware of its strengths and weaknesses. The more people involved in the decision process, the greater the adoption rate will be once a decision has been made.
- Talk to other churches. Don’t just depend on the reference list provider by a particular company. Call the churches that you think understand how to leverage technology to enhance and improve ministry processes. Ask them which solution they are using and how they made their decision. Be sure to drill down on this last point. Many times, churches make decisions with poor criteria and end up learning a lot about what they should have done differently. Ask them to share that with you.
- Talk to multiple ChMS companies. Choosing a new ChMS is a big decision. Don’t just pick an option because your friends chose it. Make sure you find the right fit for your church. The solution you ultimately land on will reflect your investment of time and energy. Sure, you might get lucky but do you really want to bet on that? Talking to multiple companies helps you educate yourself about what’s available.
Choosing a ChMS can be a good reason to begin a strategic planning process, too. You’re going to have to outline how your church operates and functions for the implementation process anyway. Treating this process as a casual one leaves a lot of ministry potential on the table.
How does your position on technology in ministry change when you see it as an extension of your church strategy rather than a line item in your church budget?
This is a sponsored post from Church Community Builder, one of my ministry partners on TonyMorganLive.com.