By Chris Martin
The mission of the local church has not changed throughout history, but the way the church is led has certainly changed throughout history. Different geographical, historical, and cultural contexts all contribute to the various ways pastors and church leaders may direct the daily work of the local church. Though Christian churches around the world share a common mission and many common values, they all operate in different ways.
In our modern context, most churches rely on different kinds of computer software to assist in the week-in, week-out operations of church life. What kind of software is actually available?
Different Software for Every Need
It is safe to say that there has never been more church software available than there is today. The options are seemingly endless. What might you need church software for?
Here are just a few of the areas of church operations that have church software options available:
- Church directories
- Children’s ministry check-in and safety
- Mobile app management
- Website management
Those are just a handful of many different areas of church life that are supported by many kinds of software.
Leading the operations of the local church is hard work, especially if you’re charged with leading the operations of a larger local church. Some churches have dozens or even hundreds of groups, meetings, and ministries that gather in any given week. To oversee such a collection of events and relationships is incredibly difficult and near impossible to do in a simple spreadsheet.
On top of all of that, overseeing the finances of the local church is yet another piece of leading a church that is oft-overlooked and more difficult than it may seem. Because of churches’ tax-exempt status, keeping a meticulous record of every single expense and other such financial details is of utmost importance.
It takes a lot more to keep a church running than a charismatic pastor, a nice building, and good music. Church software solutions can help alleviate the burden of daily church leadership. But is there too much software available?
The Pros and Cons of So Many Options
Have you ever been to a restaurant that has too much on the menu? It can be a bit difficult to decide what to order if one page has a list of 20 different kinds of fish, next to a page filled with a dozen varieties of pasta, next to a page with 10 hamburger options.
Sometimes it’s easier to make a decision if we don’t have endless options from which to choose. So many potential choices can induce a “paralysis by analysis” that complicates the decision on the best way forward.
When it comes to church software, there is no shortage of choices (as we already explored). But is this a good or a bad reality? What are the pros and cons of having so many church software solutions available?
Here are some thoughts:
- You can find solutions tailored for exactly what you need.
- You can be sure to find competitive pricing and features without feeling pigeon-holed into one provider.
- You can potentially cut costs by only investing in software for certain parts of your church’s needs.
- Deciding on which option is best for your church can be overwhelming.
- You may overpay for church software by having a different provider for every aspect of your ministry.
- You may have a hard time transferring important information from one software platform to another if they don’t work well together.
The pros and cons listed above are surely just a few of the considerations a church should make before investing in any church software platforms.
There isn’t a clear-cut “right” answer by any means, but deciding on which church software partnerships are best for your church is a process that shouldn’t be taken lightly or done quickly. Discernment and careful consideration are important in this process.
But what is the primary value that should drive your decision-making process for settling on software to empower the work of your church?
Simplicity Is King
When it comes down to it, the most important value for your church staff to consider when it comes to deciding on a church software solution is simplicity.
Of course, if your church is cash-strapped or in a season where cost is more important than anything else, be wise with the financial resources that the Lord has entrusted to your ministry.
But when it comes to church software and how it serves the ministry of your church, simplicity must be at the front of your mind. Why? Church software is meant to serve your people, not burden them.
Choosing the cheapest or the fanciest church software solutions may ultimately undermine the whole reason you’re investing in church software to begin with. Be wary of being driven too strongly by finances or features.
The whole purpose of church software is to make managing the daily workings of the church easier for the people in charge of payroll, communication, and all other different aspects of church operations.
If you decide to purchase a church software solution that is super fancy but difficult to use, what good will the fancy features be for your church staff? If you save a few hundred bucks a year by going with the cheapest option, what will it end up costing you in man-hours to ask your church staff to use a tool that complicates their routine processes rather than simplifying them?
The most important value you should consider as you try to decide on a church software solution to support the daily work of your church is simplicity because the core purpose of investing in such a software is to make the management of the local church easier.
And, if the software you’re purchasing to make managing your church easier is actually incredibly complicated or faulty or otherwise hard to use, you’re creating more problems, not solving them.
Serve your church staff by investing in whatever church software makes their work more efficient so that they can better steward the time and resources your church has been given.
Chris Martin is with One Church Software, an award-winning, cloud-based church management system focused on providing superior customer service and an all-in-one software solution, www.onechurchsoftware.com.