Having pastored in a rural church of less than 100 for the past eight years, I have a pretty good sense of the struggles of small churches. I have also learned a lot about the tools available to small churches during that time. One of the more complicated tools that is available to churches today is a church management system. These vary greatly in terms of price and feature set, but the ultimate purpose is pretty much the same. Let’s take a look at some questions small churches ask about their ChMS.
One of the advantages of small churches is the ability to know not only who people are, but intimate details about their lives. Small churches, when healthy, often look more like a big family. However, the ultimate goal of any church should be evangelism. How you track visitors and care for them after their visit says a lot about your church. A ChMS helps fill in those gaps by helping track personal information and also helping guide your follow up.
“I’m not that techy, can I use it?”
Many small churches struggle with having personnel to take on these kinds of tasks. Depending on your level of computer knowledge and the software you choose, the answer to this question really could go either way. Generally speaking, if you can use a computer, you will be able to use and find value in a decent ChMS. Even in rural settings, technology is such an important part of life that you can often find someone in your church to help in this area.
“Will it take all my time?”
In a smaller church, the way a ChMS is used really is not going to take a ton of extra time or put a lot of strain on your workweek. The initial setup will be somewhat laborious, but the time the software will save in the future, especially in regards to creating lists and such, will be worth it.
“Cloud-based or local install?”
The world is moving to the cloud, but this question still has value. If you have to choose between a cloud-based solution or a local solution, my advice would always be cloud-based. The reason is simple, it can be accessed from anywhere and on any device. This also eliminates the worry of losing your data if your computer crashes. That said, this can sometimes drive up the cost of the software, so just be aware.
“Is it worth it?”
Truthfully, I cannot answer this question for you. That’s really something that only you can determine, but let me offer a few points worth considering. How valuable is your time? How good is your follow-up? Would your evangelism be more effective with a ChMS solution? Honestly, if having a good system gives you a few extra hours to devote to sermon prep or evangelism or helps you be more effective at following up with your visitors, it’s at least worth your time to consider it.
What about you? What questions do you have about adding a ChMS to your church?