Ministry Brands launches ‘Ministry Brands Amplify,’ a new breed of integrated church management platform
Church Executive: The company aimed to create the first church management platform specifically designed for the “post-COVID challenges that churches face today.” Can you tell me more about that?
Nathan James: Absolutely. COVID had a profound impact on our world. With the technology that is available across the globe, this was the first time we have had a truly global tragedy that we all shared in real-time across continents and oceans. In many cases, the impact was even more profound as we saw our loved ones both suffer and celebrate through a video screen. This affected churches and ministries of all sizes, through record-low giving numbers, increased staff attrition, challenges getting and engaging volunteers, and increased operating costs due to inflation. Our research shows that this experience expedited technology adoption of both businesses and individuals by more than two years. Churches specifically adopted streaming and online giving platforms at a record pace, and the staff members setting at home were confined to ministering to members based on data and digital communication methods rather than handshakes and in person events.
The Church at large experienced the power of modern technology, but in many cases, they also experienced the pain of disconnected systems and processes. This has led to an industry outcry for the “All-in-one” church software solution. This is the need that Ministry Brands Amplify was designed to solve. A true all-in-one solution that combines the best-in-class systems across Ministry Brands’ portfolio of 30+ products. With auto provisioning integrations and centralized user management, this goes beyond the industry standard of single sign on and instead creates a system with single user records, shared across over a dozen modules, spanning from the Church Management system to the video streaming and worship planning products. We imagined the power of managing, scheduling, streaming, reaching, texting, giving, and media management in one powerful system… then we built it. We believe that this solution not only combines the best-in-class systems from across our portfolio, but it also establishes a new standard and raises the bar in church software.
CE: The press release also states that you used input from customers to build this tool. Can you tell me more about that process, and what the key takeaways were?
James: As a company, we have always been customer focused. In 2022, however, we decided to amplify our impact by combining the product development teams from across our portfolio into a single unit that is now the largest product team in the industry. Then we doubled down on customer interviews and market research to make sure the next-generation platform we envisioned met the needs of the ministries we serve. Through thousands of hours of collaboration and customer feedback, we iteratively improved our core products while building the platforming technology needed to launch Ministry Brands Amplify as the most feature complete product on the market. As we listened we learned, and as we learned we leaned into the vision and mission of the organizations we serve. From there, aligned on mission and clear on the problems, we set out to solve them in a compelling and unique way. Though, this launch represents a tectonic shift in technology for the church, we are just getting started. The feedback we received was invaluable and has helped us build a comprehensive strategy that will lead us to continue delivering unique and valuable solutions that make the work of church ministry more efficient and impactful in the future.
CE: Many churches use several platforms/apps/systems to accomplish the functionalities this new all-in-one tool offers. A couple of questions: first, it can be tough to get one’s head around migrating all those tasks into one tool, especially if a church has been “doing it this way” for years. For church workers concerned about this, what would you say?
James: We recognize that change can be hard, we also have learned that not changing can be even harder. Upgrading systems and tools now can save you weeks of effort and thousands of dollars of managing bad systems and tools in the future. At the end of the day, we see investment in tooling as a stewardship opportunity. It is our religious responsibility and charge to be responsible with the donations directed toward church operations, and we believe that a church has as much responsibility to measure the return on investment of time savings and efficiency gains as any business. In other words, we believe it is our job to partner with churches to help them save time and save money so the funds can be reinvested in the work of ministry.
CE: What do you anticipate the ramp-up time will be for someone trying to learn this new product?
James: That’s the best part, Ministry Brands Amplify is very intuitive and works as you would expect out of the box. We also have a staff of seasoned trainers and implementation specialists to walk alongside churches and train their staff and volunteers on best practices to get the most out of the system.
CE: What about migration of data — how will that be accomplished, and how long do you anticipate it will take?
James: We have invested heavily in data migration tooling as part of the development efforts of Ministry Brands Amplify. This allows us to quickly migrate all of our customers’ data, regardless of the system they are coming from, quickly and wholistically. Now, there are multiple options for speed, based on the needs of each church, and we will work with each situation to ensure a successful transition on their timetable.
CE: What can you tell me about the company’s aggressive plan to integrate nearly every solution in your portfolio into a single platform?
James: Ministry Brands has kicked into high gear in the area of technological innovation and has been fully focused on Ministry Brands Amplify for the past 15 months. The launch of the platform is the unveiling of the iceberg, but there is a significant amount of technology development already underway to lay the foundation for migrating the rest of our portfolio onto the platform. By the end of 2023, we expect to have nearly a dozen of the most impactful tools available on the platform. In parallel we have several skunkworks teams focused on collaborating with customers on new, innovative products that will be the first of their kind in church software.
CE: When you say there will be some new tools introduced soon that have never been available to churches before, how much can you expand on that?
James: The reinvention of our portfolio through Ministry Brands Amplify is truly the beginning for the new leadership team here at Ministry Brands. This new leadership has brought a renewed focus on mission-minded innovation. With this direction, we are reimagining more than our software, we are reimagining our vision. Our vision to help support and grow healthy churches. Our vision to be a world-class partner for ministry. Our vision to impact the world through the message of faith. Practically this starts with Ministry Brands Amplify, but it is only the beginning … we are very excited about what’s coming next!
As Vice President of Product Management for Ministry Brands, Nathan James is responsible for the customer facing product experience across the portfolio of brands. With 15 years of product management leadership experience in global fintech, Saas, and church software organizations, Nathan specializes in user experience, customer centricity and organizational process design.
Nathan spent the first part of his career as an ordained pastor and worship minister across a half dozen churches ranging from small bible churches to several multi-site mega churches. He’s passionate about the global Church and active in his local congregation.
Along with his passion for design, technology and church ministry, Nathan is a committed family man. He’s married to a beauty queen from South Carolina with whom he’s raising two ambitious boys who love sports, technology and God.