As technology increasingly drives our culture, it’s tempting to wield it as a patch rather than a solution. But savvy church leaders who use technology—rather than letting technology use them—understand that it is a strategic support, not a fix. That means tech planning needs to be prominent in your church’s culture. Here’s how.
Put together a tech team to make church technology decisions. Include a pastor, a tech-savvy member, church ministry representatives and a finance team member. Also obtain outside professional help as an objective resource.
Divide technology into four areas: administration (manage operations and finances), communication (build relationships), education (intrachurch and outreach) and worship—only after the other three areas are operational.
Decide how you will purposefully use technology and let that mission—not perceived “need”—drive your plan. For example, a direct mail solution will allow you to reach people more easily, while real-time reports from your database will let you analyze the church’s effectiveness in a number of areas.
Talk to other churches about what equipment and software is working for them, which vendors they recommend and what kinds of training they do. Copy the successes and avoid the pitfalls.
More than 75 congregation management systems are available today, such as Fellowship One or ChurchMetrics.com. Assess whether you want a software-based system, which allows you to own and customize the software, or a less expensive, Internet-based system that can be accessed anywhere. Try it before you buy it.
Buy only what you need. Equipment tends to last only three years before requiring maintenance, which is often more expensive than simply replacing it. For that reason, only accept donated equipment that is a year or two old.
Make training a major part of your tech plan.
Be sure your plan includes methods and policies for backing up all data at least once a week.