Modernization

Posted by Boyd Pelley Tuesday, August 30, 2016 11:22:00 AM Categories: Leadership Ministry & Technology

Church management didn't use to be this way.

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Last week I visited with the Executive Pastor and IT director of a church about an hour from me.  Over a decade ago they built a really useful software application to manage their church.  It is especially good at automating follow-up of guests.  We talked back then about Churchteams and I was impressed with what they built.  Obviously, they didn't need us.  

Fast-forward a decade.  These guys are part of a team that grew a church from several hundred to over 3,000 with 3 campuses.  They've been busy and haven't had the time to continually update their original software so they've added different specific applications to do things like check-in, email marketing, texting, even contributions.  But now, they have their people-data in several different places.  I love their heart to do the extra work on the staff side if these other applications serve their people well.  But, they know that there are a few companies like Churchteams that have had the time, focus and priorities to continually upgrade to bring all people-related data together.  It is time for them to modernize their systems once again.

The term Modernize from a quick Google search means to "adapt (something) to modern needs or habits, typically by installing modern equipment or adopting modern ideas or methods.".  

For most of my life I thought that modernization was something you needed to do every generation (20 years) or so, like re-modelling a house.  I remember thinking when we first redid our website - great, that job's done.  I don't know that it occurred to me at the time that we were going to have to do it again in 3 to 4 years and then again and again.  Now, it's in my head that even though we just released a new website last year, by 2019 we will need to plan to go through the same process again.  We've learned to think the same way about every feature development and new release.  They are great at the time, but there is and always will be something new and better in the works.  So, every 3 or 4 years, if not sooner, we'll have to "modernize" or sharpen it.   

It didn't use to be this way.  When I first started in ministry (early 90's), we were just moving into using computers.  The card file and notebook systems of the past had been around for 20 years at least.  Word processing as we called it and electronic spreadsheets were revolutionary.  We were really modernizing.  These morphed that decade into MS Office products like Word, Excel and Access.  Then came the Internet and Google.  This opened up a new world for those of us who didn't want to have to develop distribution systems for the products we dreamed of building.  But with this barrier to entry gone came the proliferation of web applications to do everything.  Then came Apple and the mobile revolution that required the "old" web applications to adapt to a new environment.  These tools have fueled our natural entrepreneurial spirit bringing what seems like an unlimited number of options for how we do everything.  In upcoming blogs over the next month or two, I want to consider ideas like:  Agility, Relevance, Efficiency,  Innovation, User-proximity, Sustainability, Service (Relationship), and whatever else this discussion may lead to.

Boyd