I really appreciate @gbrenneman & @jpowell’s responses because I think a natural tendency, especially in this network, is to point people to the ChMS that we like or that was the best fit for our church. Contrary to popular belief, there is no single ChMS that is perfect for every church and any ChMS that claims that it is should be suspect. I say this as someone who works with one of the ChMS companies and I know we are not the right fit for every church. I have to truly believe that if my ultimate goal is to serve the Bride of Christ. My goal is to help church leadership figure out what their real ministry needs are and to point them in the right direction. Oftentimes, that is the system that I represent but other times it is not.
There are some basic priority questions that you could ask that would help narrow down the options though.
- Do you want software that is more focused on administration, leadership or the congregation?
- Do you want simple, cheap software that meets your needs today or more robust software that can grow with you?
- Do you want to partner with someone that will host & develop the software on your behalf (Software-As-A-Service) or do you want to provide resources to develop, customize (and potentially host) the software (i.e. Open Source)?
- Does the longevity and financial stability of the potential partner matter to you?
- Does the ownership of the potential partner matter to you? (i.e. Christian-owned vs secular-owned)
- Do you want protected access to the software or a distributed model to spread out the workload of ministry (including group leaders, etc.)
But I believe that the most important questions that you can ask are from a high-level ministry leadership point-of-view.
What’s working well in ministry? (that software would need to support)
What’s not working well in ministry? (that software could potentially help us improve)
What’s our biggest pain in ministry? (that software could potentially eliminate?)
and the final question I would ask…
How could software potentially help us be excellent at what we are called to do as a Church? (For most churches, that is about making and growing disciples). At the end of the day, bells and whistles don’t matter if the church isn’t helping people move forward into a relationship with Christ. I believe that this question is the most important question you could ask when evaluating a potential church management partner. Which software and software partner is going to provide the most value to you in getting more people into a dynamic relationship with Christ?
Thanks for letting me ramble. I hope that my rant made sense.
Have a great week.