By Sam Batterman
You know your church needs a church management system, or ChMS. But do you know why?
Most churches see their ChMS as a tool to automate common tasks — attendance management, event scheduling, contribution-tracking, or email communication. Using a ChMS this way is like clearing a riverbed: things move faster and smoother, but you haven’t changed the course. It’s business as usual, only with less manual effort.
But strike deeper, and you’ll unleash a gushing spring of insight. Your ChMS gives you exactly what you need to drive the strategic growth of your congregation.
This is the heart of our mission as a software provider: empowering churches to reach more people, more effectively with the message of Christ. A robust ChMS can illuminate the patterns in your historical data to provide a powerful view into your potential.
Here are just a few of the ways to turn your ChMS into a forward-looking tool for informed decision-making.
Growth through local presence
When you use your ChMS to collect data from new members, you can see exactly what’s bringing people to your church. Is it children’s programs? Hosted events? Partnerships with charities or community organizations? Understanding what has worked in the past helps you replicate more of the activities that draw in local people.
You can also see where people come from. Seraphim’s mapping feature is closely integrated with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software so you can not only see where your congregants live, but their most likely route to church. Layer in enough of these commutes, and you can instantly visualize the best place for some out-of-home advertising, or plan a mail or email campaign to reach neighborhoods that are demographically similar to your current congregation.
Growth through satellite locations
Your ChMS becomes an invaluable tool when you’re ready to expand into new campuses. Your current members’ addresses tell part of the story. But, siting your new campus based only on the highest concentration of members is not the way to ensure its survival.
You want committed members already active in doing the work that a growing church needs, from bookkeeping to youth ministry. A more reliable picture would include the ministry experience, average giving, and attendance rates of the new location’s prospective users. A ChMS (like ours) will aggregate all this data into one, easy-to-understand map — no exporting it into other tools to sort and plot your info. Filter your data with the indicators you want to use, map it, edit your selections, and see your new campus practically come to life on the screen.
Growth through global distribution
We’ve become used to “sampling” things online, and there’s perhaps no better way for your future members to get to know you. A combination of strong Biblical preaching and compelling visuals can build your church’s credibility as a thought leader, opening the doors to belief, membership, support, or all of the above.
Seraphim’s presentation package, Airstream, allows you to edit video feeds, lyrics, slides and animation effects into a richly layered online experience. Use your ChMS to livestream a service or share it on social media, and you’re extending your reach and your life-changing message well beyond your city.
Harnessing the power at your fingertips
You can see now that your ChMS is not a little hand tool, chipping away at your church’s mission. You can lean on its capabilities to cut through the clutter of information and get to the heart of God’s plan for your congregation.
As powerful as it is, ChMS is not the most important tool in your toolbox. Pastor and author Mark Dever reminds us, “The more we pray, the more we acknowledge that God is the reason for any growth that comes.”
All of us hope you’ll prayerfully consider how to put resources — like a ChMS — to work for you and the people God is drawing to your door.
Sam Batterman is president and CTO of Seraphim Software in Collegeville, Pa. After years of working for companies including Merck and Microsoft, Batterman and his team now enable churches with high-tech tools designed especially for them.