Apple is changing the software business...again. At one point (not that many years ago), you had to order the software and wait for it to come in the mail. Then, you loaded that media into the appropriate drive. Today, the App Store allows individuals to instantly download very specific, niche applications that they can operate with little to no training.
My fear is that the same expectation is being made of enterprise software such as church management systems. As the habits of the consumer changes, software companies will have to adjust. However, I believe there are some fundamental reasons why church management systems will never be plug-and-play:
- No church is the same. If all churches operated the same, developing software would be easy. More options are demanded today than ever before. Plug-and-Play doesn’t allow for customization.
- It’s more about the habits of the pew than the preferences of the pulpit. It’s the role of the leadership to facilitate conversation not control or restrict it. That means we must make it easy for members to interact with their church in ways that are native to their context. You need a solution that is robust enough to offer the church and its membership options.
- Outsider’s perspective. Sometimes it is very helpful to talk through your own business process management to discover where the greatest opportunities for improvement can be found.
- The challenge of implementation. If you want the software to fit your church rather than your church to fit the software, a custom implementation plan must be built. This stage is critical to maximizing the opportunity and impact of your church’s investment in this new tool.
- The benefits of training and support. There is nothing like having someone on the other end when you have a question or run into a situation that needs immediate attention. Knowing there is someone to help train and support your technology tools builds confidence in the tool and its ability for it to accelerate your ministry impact.
Should church management systems install as simply as an App from the App Store?