MEMBERSHIP GROWTH PLANNING WORKSHOP # 4: CHURCH-2-GO
Using Technology to further Congregational Growth
December 10, 2011 Holy Innocents Episcopal church, San Francisco
Question: What technologies can help further Congregational Growth?
Colloquy followed concerning use of salesforce.com’s customer management software (CMS) to facilitate regular contact with different constituencies. This is a parish-based need that the diocese could facilitate through training and through negotiations with vendors for free or reduced-fee licenses.
Razors-edge.biz which is specifically designed for non-profit management and fundraising software and icontact and Constant Contact, another customer management software systems. Some are migrating to emma because it interfaces with salesforce.com.
The downside to these systems: it silos the information which protects the data from poaching but also doesn’t enable the diocese to directly reach congregants. You can see an overview of and compare fundraising software at capterra.com.
Our goals are not industrial. We want to keep in touch in ways that provide spiritual sustenance. Each congregation has its own quirks, needs: what are the sensitivities we need to keep in mind?
Someone volunteered: let’s not make “good” the enemy of “perfect” in looking for solutions. We eventually need scalability but perhaps a small, beta test with a few congregations might work best. We need standards for posting, security, suggestions to improve collaboration. We need to host a tech seminar about salesforce after the new year.
In the meantime, if your congregation has questions about salesforce.com, contact:
Marisa B. Jennings, Marisab2003@yahoo.com.
Other technology examples discussed include:
- Youversion.com manages small group bible studies throughout the world. This technology allows you to do church at your own convenience and on your own time;
- ericwhitacre.com is a virtual choir;
- Grace Cathedral’s Forums are available on demand to listen to;
- kickstart.com provides outreach funding opportunities in Africa.
Christopher Martin mentioned a meditation app he uses to measure the quiet time he needs for prayer. He finds silence before a meeting changes its tone, gets people fully present for whatever work they are gathered to do.
Question: Does the Diocese of California need a social network to foster collaboration? If yes, what would that network look like?
Our dreams include creating a flash mob bible study, creating “Episcopal 101” as an on-line formation tool. While technology is good, Christopher Martin senses an urgent need by many to be in the same room together.
In terms of attracting users, all concurred the content needs to be in the email itself because an attachment creates another time commitment and step and is a cumbersome hurdle for many. We need to extend hospitality and marketing by grabbing the audience in the preview panel of the email. As Sue Thompson pleaded, “please don’t make any more work; I can do Facebook and email, but that’s about all I have capacity for.”
Stories generation is hyperlocal. Buzz begins where the stories are and it is difficult to create excitement. Blogs are hyperlocal and are easy to interface with, a crucial feature.
Discussion ensued of responsive grid technology and html5 which are content management features we need to be aware of (technology to manage what content goes to desktops, what and where content goes to ipads, smartphones). Sean McConnell working on aggregating blogs of the Bishop and other clergy. pacificchurchnews.org is html5.
How does tech drive church growth? Use technology to see how people are organizing themselves. A major issue is reimaging how to fund the churches’ work; our current funding model is congregation-based and that won’t work in many circumstances going forward.
Instant messaging, tweeting and texting are the means of communications for those 14 to 25. Hashtags allow you to see the talking trends ( A hashtag – # – followed by a word or phrase lets users find content and conversations they are interested in). For church, which hashtags can we capture? Trend analysis of hashtags is used in business for marketing strategy. Maybe we would benefit by asking the campus chaplains to host a tech forum with their students to see what the students think the rest of the church should be doing with technology.
Google +1 is open source forum which tried to avoid facebook’s mistakes. Gary Hunt prefers managed source forums with affinities such as kickstart.org which fosters outreach giving in Africa.
CMS would make it easy to do a skills inventory which would help connect folks with talents to a worthwhile project. It would also help create the feeling of being in a community.
“We are technology pioneers,” one said, “I just hope we’re not the Donnor Party.” We all laughed.
To close, Gary Hunt invited everyone to post comments and ask questions at churchgrowthprogram.com.
Save March 10th at All Saints, San Leandro, for Rob Droste’s hosting of conversation on attracting the creative-types and evangelism.