Viewpoint Ministry Solutions Dan Mikes Senior Vice President Church Loan Division e are pleased to offer in this issue of the Church Management News an article by Greg Welsh, sales and marketing representative with Shelby Systems. The article addresses issues such as what you should look for in church management software and how a good software program can increase your effectiveness. In addition, Craig Janssen and Jeff Otero, principal and senior consultants, respectively, of Texas based Strategic Dimensions, will share their experience in planning new or expanded facilities.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Church Management News, published by the Church Loan Division of Bank of the West. CHURCH MANAGEMENT NEWS Published by the Church Loan Division at Bank of the West 1-800-405-2327 Volume 19 INSIDE: Facility Planning: Finding the Right Road for Your Church to Take " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " n today 9s Age of Technology, there are two realities all but the smallest churches must face: first, computerized accounting systems are an essential part of effective ministry; and, second, off-the shelf systems designed primarily for businesses don 9t meet the ... more. less.
specific needs of churches and other nonprofit organizations (NPOs). It was the unique accounting needs of these NPOs which led the late Ernest O.<br><br> Hamilton to launch Cordova, Tennessee-based Shelby Systems, Inc. in 1976. Today, under the leadership of President Frank Canady, the company has experienced 30 years of sustained growth, as a result of its focus on developing computer software products designed specifically for churches.<br><br> Recently, Church Management News spoke with Shelby sales and marketing representative Greg Welsh about the approach churches should take in selecting the appropriate software. Prior to joining Shelby, Greg served for 14 years as the business administrator of a large church. CMN : For churches just getting started in technology, or for those looking to upgrade their current systems, what 9s the first step?<br><br> GW : Software is not an inexpensive purchase, so like almost everything else, it makes sense to do some homework. The first thing to ask is: cWho 9s responsible for the purchase? d Whether you assign this task to an individual or a committee, make sure all areas of ministry are considered. The volunteer in charge of the parking lot crew is just as important as a staff member.<br><br> It 9s all ministry! Most faith-based packages don 9t have the cmuscle d to handle all areas of need, but many have the ability to either integrate with peripheral packages, or allow at least the import and export of data. You 9ll see strengths and weaknesses in all packages, but some ministry software needs ought to be non-negotiable.<br><br> CMN : What should these non- negotiable items include? GW : Well, given the sensitive areas in which the church deals, security is extremely important. However, church leaders should strive to find a balance between the comfort level of tight security and the advantages of database accessibility by members.<br><br> Selecting Church Management Software Continued on Page Two I W CHURCH MANAGEMENT NEWS is published by the Church Loan Division of Bank of the West, 201 N. Civic Drive, Suite 360-C Walnut Creek, CA 94596 1-800-405-2327 www.bankofthewest.com/churchlending Editor: Marianne Berlan " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " It 9s also very important for the church to invest in a system that will generate complete and proper financial reports. That 9s especially true should the need for borrowing arise.<br><br> The system should have the capability of producing the kinds of financial statements lenders require, and church leaders would be wise to obtain a CPA 9s recommendation for the appropriate software. CMN : You mentioned giving members access to the church 9s database. Why is that to the church 9s advantage?<br><br> GW : Because it would save staff time, and also keep the church 9s database current. For example, allowing individual members to go online and update their family 9s basic information every time something changes can relieve staff of those chores and result in significant dollar savings, which can then be redirected toward ministry projects. Look for a software company that offers a wide range of online programs church members can access: membership updates, managing groups, registrations for events, giving and volunteering.<br><br> This will ensure that you 9re investing in a software program that will continue working for you in the future. CMN : As a church invests in new technology systems, does the training of staff members on how to use it most effectively become a problem? GW : Not necessarily.<br><br> First of all, the newest generation of faith- based staff is a tech-savvy group. This new flock of servants will want more computerized tools than ever before, and they want them to not only be comprehensive, but easy to learn. At the same time, I regularly encounter very willing church staff members who are under-trained, which, in my view, means under- valued.<br><br> Why invest the Lord 9s money in any software program and not train the staff to use all of it? I realize money is tight, but some organizations promote user groups and e-groups as a way to save time and money by helping software owners work together. Also, I recommend having at least one staff member designated as the software cexpert, d and training that person to the level of staff trainer.<br><br> Consider promoting a great worker, and then invest in increasing that person 9s level of expertise. Look for a software company that encourages training through classes, user groups, or both. CMN : How can the church get the most mileage from the newest management software?<br><br> GW : The term cgarbage in/garbage out d has been around since floppy drives were introduced. Remember them? One of the most frustrating issues I 9ve had with software over the years is all the hours I 9ve spent putting data into this little cbox d and not being able to get out what I want!<br><br> The good news is that, for many, those days are over. Now, for example, we have the ability to write a query in a programming language such as Microsoft SQL and datamine a wide range of information from what 9s been entered, allowing us to generate real-time reports with one-click access. These reports can provide quick and current access to information that 9s important for church leaders.<br><br> With one click on a list of pre-determined menu items, the pastor can immediately access, from his desktop, up-to-the- minute data on such things as attendance trends at worship services and individual giving patterns. For example, a list of members who are attending less frequently than before and whose contributions have decreased could be early warning signs that they 9re considering leaving the church. That 9s important information which allows church officials to take remedial action before these individuals slip unnoticed cout the back door. d There are virtually no limits to the kinds of valuable data you can enter, and retrieve instantly.<br><br> Based on my experience, there aren 9t many programs which have this ability - so shop carefully. CMN : Any final thoughts for our readers? GW : Churches can greatly enhance the effectiveness of their ministry by taking advantage of the latest technology - great software at an affordable price that 9s easy to use, that does everything we want it to do, and allows even church members and part-time employees access, without sacrificing security.<br><br> Selecting Church Management Software Continued from Page One " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " he road to the future, d wrote corporate executive and business consultant David P. Snyder, cis paved with good intentions - and littered with bad assumptions. d As a leader of a growing church, you 9re rapidly approaching a crossroad, and will soon face the decision of which way to turn, and of how best to plan for future facilities that will allow you to accomplish your mission in the most effective manner. Your intentions are good, but how do you avoid the pitfalls and potholes in the road if you make the wrong turn?<br><br> Recently, Church Management News spoke with Craig Janssen and Jeff Otero, principal consultant and senior consultant, respectively, of Texas-based Strategic Dimensions, who have worked with hundreds of churches across the country in planning new or expanded facilities, helping them avoid the trap of bad assumptions, and move in the direction that will allow them to best accomplish their mission. CMN : Will you explain to our readers exactly what facility planning involves? CJ : Facility planning is a complex, multi-dimensional process to reconcile a church 9s facility requirements with its resources and its mission.<br><br> The mission should drive the facility design, not the other way around. CMN : What 9s the most common mistake churches seem to make when their growth dictates the need for additional facilities? JO : A lack of foresight and planning.<br><br> A church will wait until it 9s already at capacity before moving ahead, and then a sense of urgency drives the process, without all the factors being taken into consideration. CMN : What have you found to be the best way to plan for a growing church 9s future needs? CJ : Often, the best way to see clearly which road to travel in the future is to carefully examine the road that 9s brought the church to its current position.<br><br> That involves gathering as much historical data as possible: worship attendance; education attendance; giving; other income; parking; debt service; missions; etc. CMN : At what point are you usually called in? JO : In our experience, we 9ve found three typical situations.<br><br> First, the church leaders recognize the need, but have no preconceived ideas about how to proceed. Second, the planning process has begun, but no clear vision has emerged. Third, the expansion planning is well underway, but the necessary funding hasn 9t materialized, and we 9re called in to provide some clarity and redirection.<br><br> CMN : What 9s the ideal situation, and what does it involve? CJ : The ideal situation is the first one Jeff just mentioned. Once as much of the historical data as possible has been obtained, we meet with all the key leaders of the church in an interactive session to brainstorm possible development scenarios, thinking outside the boxes of preconceived notions and outdated master plans, and eliminating all sacred cows.<br><br> Over the years, we 9ve compiled an extensive church database, allowing us, by entering our client church 9s data, to immediately develop computer models of scenarios which are likely to work and those which aren 9t. Each scenario is subjected to rigorous analysis, in order to determine the answers to the following questions: " Does the scenario provide adequate worship capacity (seats x services + venues) for the near- and long-term future? " Is the facility balanced, i.e.: is enough space provided for circulation, gathering, classes, parking, offices, restrooms, etc.<br><br> for the peak service attendance? " Are the right facilities (function and capacity) delivered at the right times to allow the church 9s continued growth? " How much will it cost - realistically - to build the facilities included in the scenario?<br><br> " Will the church have the financial capacity to build the facilities envisioned in each phase? " How much money - again, realistically - can be raised in each phase of a multi-phase campaign? " What 9s the appropriate level of debt the church can service without sacrificing the funds available for ministry?<br><br> CMN : What 9s the main advantage of going through this process? Facility Planning: Finding the Right Road for Your Church to Take Continued on Page Four cT JO : There are several. First of all, it allows the church to immediately take the non-feasible scenarios off the table, and keep them off.<br><br> Second, it allows the church to select the best scenario and move forward. Third, by employing this interactive process for developing and testing all the scenarios, it gets all the church leaders on the same page, resulting in a sense of unity that will help ensure the project 9s success. CMN : Do you ever involve anyone other than the church leaders in this process?<br><br> CJ : Ideally, we like to have the architect, general contractor and fundraiser participate but, in some cases, not all of them have been selected. CMN : Any final thoughts? CJ : Just a couple.<br><br> The beauty of this computer modeling process is that it eliminates conjecture and allows all the facts to be shown, including present and future costs. It engages all the key stakeholders. The impact of every decision can be seen in real time, and it takes all the emotion out of the decision-making process.<br><br> Finally, one of the most important benefits of this process involves finances. All too often, growing churches will take on excessive debt burdens in their eagerness to provide additional facilities, adversely impacting their ability to further their mission. Proper facility planning will allow them to avoid the trap of over-borrowing, and to be the good stewards God has called them to be.<br><br> The Church Loan Division Bank of the West 201 N. Civic Drive Suite 360-C Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Facility Planning: Finding the Right Road for Your Church to Take Continued from Page Three