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Finding Church Management Software

I’m convinced that picking a good Church Management Software (CMS from here on out) will be an important thing for Imago Christi. So for the past couple of days I’ve spent some time Googling various CMS options. There is no shortage of options; the Google search has multiple pages of primary sites that offer some sort of software, and those software packages seem to run the whole gamut. There are the amazingly cheap and out-of-date packages that are still being offered; there are more expensive packages available. One particular frustration is that a bunch of sites won’t even give you pricing information up front; they want your contact info so they can have someone call you. I hate talking to salesmen, and there’s no sense in them pitching a $1000 software package to me, no matter how good it is – we can’t afford it.

Being a geek and very internet-savvy, it boggles my mind how many really really poor websites there are for these programs. Seriously, the sites look like they were created in 1995 by a high-schooler who needed a weekend project. And like they haven’t been updated since then. I have to wonder how many copies of the software they’re selling if they can’t even afford a decent website.

There are a couple options I have found that have web-based solutions that are very attractive: PurposeWare and Church Community Builder. Both appear to be much more robust than the typical CMS, allowing church members to access the tool online to update information, sign up for mailing lists, etc. Of course, both of these places want me to leave my contact info so they can get back to me… but I think with these two it’ll be worth it. At least these two have websites that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have associated with my organization.

I’ll do some more evaluation in the next week and try to come up with a recommendation. Then we just need to justify it in the budget…

5 Comments

  1. You are so very right that picking the right church ministry software is a critical decision. It can positively impact growth and spiritual ministry in wonderful ways for a very long time, or not.

    Sorry to hear you have such a negative impression of church software vendors as a whole. Maybe you don’t realize this is a ministry-oriented business. The majority of our customers are not very tech oriented, but they have a heart for the lost. Most are less than computer- and Internet-savy, but they give all they have and are in an effort to minister to others.

    We must appeal to where they are, not necessarily where you are. What most of them are comfortable with is where we have to focus. Most of them have no desire to match your technical level of interest. The needs of most of our customers are not very geek oriented.

    Also, we don’t have Bill Gate’s market volume potential, there are very few deep pockets to draw from and most churches do not have large budgets, so our pricing potential is quite meager, minimal and without lots of profit to throw around in the areas of razzle-dazzle and to pay for the latest or most frequent web designs.

    Hopefully within four weeks we will have a lower-cost, web-based software option that might fit the financial needs of Imago Christi’s financial situation. I am very excited about this potential.

    If you are interested in more information, let me know what features you are looking for, the number of people Imago Christi will be tracking, including members, visitors and others, its ministry style and focus, number of people who will be using the software and the users’ ability with computers, software and the Internet.

    Keep in mind that you will have to communicate with a salesman, me, but in general Christ calls all of us to be His salesmen. He has chosen us to be His representatives, examples, mouth pieces and ministers to a dying world. The Church is not very techie, has low geek appeal and our buildings are not very flashy in physical form nor is our church advertising the latest and greatest, but with His Spirit guiding us and causing the lost to overlook our non-worldly ways, we get the privilege of bringing lost sheep into His low-tech fold for all of eternity. I like those priorities and am sure you do as well.

    I’m glad to be a part of the church software world, because of the eternal impact of my work. The pay is not too good, but there are eternal rewards. On the back end I live in the world of dot-net, Web 2.0, C##, PHP and Internet integration. However, a techie savy back end cannot look and feel geeky for the sake of the majority of our front-end using, ministry-oriented, salvation-preaching, Bible-teaching, soul-winning users.

    From my observation, most pastors, laypersons, teachers and Bible Study teachers who are actively leading souls to Christ don’t have the time to learn the latest in computer technology. As a matter of fact, any time they have to spend learning a new version of Windows, Office, Google feature or updated ChMS takes them away from their true calling, to minister to the lost. Each minute, hour, day or week spent learning a new computer system, web interface or program style means someone or several someones are not being ministered to.

    On the other hand, I don’t find many geeks leading souls to Christ, bringing the lost into His fold or even bringing visitors into the church building.

    I, as do you, appreciate the benefits a well-designed ChMS can provide for the ministry of Imago Christi. However, keep in mind who the true customers of this software really are when you are criticizing the look and feel of our presentations. Also keep in mind that we are focusing on eternal values, benefits and ministries rather than volume sales, high profits and trying to impress those who are not as heavily involved in God’s ministry. We are focused on those bringing the lost into a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior for all of eternity. I think the balance is appropriate as is the pricing and focus on eternal benefits.

    I hope to hear back from you, but if not – I understand.

  2. Howard – wow, 12 paragraphs. I don’t see the need to respond to all of it, but a few points will be useful just to clarify my thinking.

    Maybe you don’t realize this is a ministry-oriented business.

    We must appeal to where they are, not necessarily where you are.

    I had hoped my post made it obvious that I am “they”; I am a potential customer and user of your software. My experience as a software engineer and web designer doesn’t make me any less a potential customer.

    I’m glad to be a part of the church software world, because of the eternal impact of my work. The pay is not too good, but there are eternal rewards. On the back end I live in the world of dot-net, Web 2.0, C##, PHP and Internet integration. However, a techie savy back end cannot look and feel geeky for the sake of the majority of our front-end using, ministry-oriented, salvation-preaching, Bible-teaching, soul-winning users.

    I completely agree with this sentiment. I work in the world of aircraft cockpit UIs, someplace we all can agree should be as user-friendly as possible. Now, I haven’t had the opportunity to demo nearly any of the software that’s advertised, but I also understand the difference between a “non-geeky” UI and a simply very poor UI. There is a difference, and even the “non-geeky” user would appreciate the difference were he/she given the opportunity to compare.

    From my observation, most pastors, laypersons, teachers and Bible Study teachers who are actively leading souls to Christ don’t have the time to learn the latest in computer technology. As a matter of fact, any time they have to spend learning a new version of Windows, Office, Google feature or updated ChMS takes them away from their true calling, to minister to the lost. Each minute, hour, day or week spent learning a new computer system, web interface or program style means someone or several someones are not being ministered to.

    On the other hand, I don’t find many geeks leading souls to Christ, bringing the lost into His fold or even bringing visitors into the church building.

    In point of fact, my non-geeky fellow-laborers in ministry have found that taking a little time to learn a new, useful technology is, in the long run, an efficiency gain. Really, if computing technology were just a waste of time to amuse geeks, it wouldn’t have taken over the world. And if your contention is correct, all pastors would be better off not having computers at all – imagine the time savings! And you gain no points with me by slamming geeks as uninterested in leading folks to the Lord.

    Finally, I want to explain my comments about salespeople. My chief issues is that their goal is always to try to convince me to buy something. I may well want to buy it, but I don’t want to be pressured. I’m quite able to make the decision on my own, without someone pressuring me out of their own self-interest. Secondly, I work a non-church 8-to-5 job. I need to be able to investigate CMS packages in non-work hours. If I have to contact an 8-to-5 salesperson to find out about your product, sorry, you’re off my list.

  3. Good comments and I appreciate your clarification on some points. Thanks.

    I just read your post on Church Community Builder and would be interested to see how that pans out if it becomes your choice.

    If you are still looking in four weeks or more, feel free to get back with me about our new offering.

    I work with many network specialists, IT support and computer technicians who are responsible for their church’s ChMS. Some of them are users and others are just support. Some are on the church staff so connecting with them during the work day is easy and others are there part time. Others are at their main jobs 8-to-5. If that is your situation I’m glad to set an appointment for whatever time and date is convenient. I am currently working with people in Guam, New Zealand, Australia, Africa and India. As a result, I must be flexible to connect at times that are convenient to them. It’s not a problem if you want to connect outside of work hours, just let me know what would be convenient.

    Again, thanks for responding. I look forward to the opportunity to show you what we have to offer as soon as it can be told. But to be up-front, I get paid for my work so there is self-interest involved. I cannot afford to not work for a living, since my family needs to eat and kids like to wear clothes. I am fortunite that my love to help expand the Kingdom and my work go hand-in-hand, each day during normal working hours. But, self-interest needs to be balanced with eternal impact and what is right for the customer. I hope and pray that it is in balance for my life as for yours. Blessings to you, your work and your ministry.

  4. Churches should look at memberships and donations as a real business, and thus must use a CRM software solution.

  5. Hi Church Management Software
    Really you people said absolutely correct that the Churches who looks at the members and donations as a real business then it is 100% right that they must use CRM software as a solution for good results.

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