For the past week I, along with 31 other workers from Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, helped Lakeshore Church in New Orleans with community outreach. The main goal for our team was to canvas a few square miles around the church in order to increase awareness of the new church plant and to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to the community. Overall, we secured 145 contacts of people that had at least a slight interest in the new church coming to their area.
Most would be very pleased with this number and they should be. However, these weeks of intense canvasing before the launch of a church plant are often some of the most disorganized and fruitless because of the lack of a centralized system to later access all of the contacts made by teams. Groups of mission teams go out and make great contacts. They might even write some of them down. They have hundreds of stories about the lady at the end of the block who was so excited to be prayed for and asked for someone to come and drive her to the church when it begins. But when the team leaves, often, so do all their contacts.
But there are a few great ways to remedy this problem. During this past week, Pastor George Ross had me set up some new church software for them that was capable of taking care of this problem and so many others that new church plants face. I chose SimpleChurchCRM. Simple Church is a program that allows for a very easy web/app based data entry. It can handle everything from online giving to mobile directories for the entire church. Watching other churches plant and reading about their difficulties, here are three of the most common struggles on the administration side of new church plants and how a program like Simple Church can be amazingly effective to alleviate the staff.
Before the church ever launches, there must be a way to track money and to receive future tithes and offerings. Passing out a plate and counting it all up before you drive it back to the bank can lead to terrible mismanagement of the monies and creates a new problem in budgeting before there is a standard-monthly-earning achieved. A centralized church planning program allows for a lay-person to create expense reports, set up online giving, forecast budgets, and pay all invoices in one place without needing to spend limited resources on accountants.
2. New Contacts.
This is the most common problem and also the easiest to remedy. If you have teams canvas the surrounding area, give them the priority of getting the names and email addresses of everyone so that they can be entered into a group in the program. This information can be used to directly send follow-up invitations. Phone numbers and addresses are great, but emails are the most efficient way to follow up and organize further visits.
The church calendar is a grossly over-booked mess in many new churches and even in established ones. But by implementing a software like Simple Church, one person can be placed as an admin on the calendar. The admin is the only person able to add things to it, but everyone in the church can have access to the calendar on their phone app. This does a few things: it keeps people from double-booking, and it lessens the work load for the staff by preventing them from constantly having to answer questions about the church calendar.
Don't waste precious time and energy. Make it a priority to identify, purchase, and implement a church systems platform in your church plant.