One of the most common questions in my conversations with small group pastors over the years has been, “How can I help unconnected find a group?” Another very common question has been, “How can I keep a finger on the pulse of the groups in my system?” My answer? Churchteams
Full disclosure, Churcteams has been a sponsor here at MarkHowellLive.com longer than anyone else. But that’s not why I’ve recommended their service over the years. And it’s not why I asked my friend Boyd Pelley, the co-founder of Churchteams to answer a few questions about their service. I recommend Churchteams because it’s designed by people with deep understanding of what is needed and a real commitment to providing the best possible service.
MH: Recently, I asked Boyd to share the Churchteams story with my readers. Here’s Boyd:
BP: People struggle for purpose and how to know God. The church is their best hope. But the church also struggles-with organizational clutter and systems. We help churches track people, connect them to church life and care for their kids, money and vision. We do that by developing world-class software.
MH: Sounds like more than just software for small groups.
BP: As you know, we began as a cloud-based, small group software. In fact you and a bunch of our friends were very helpful in helping us think through what it should do and sharing it with churches. We always realized churches would find it easier to manage people if all their data was in one place. In 2007 it was time to take what we had learned about the best practices in ministry and best practices in technology and expand those to include the rest of church management; stuff like membership, assimilation, communication, event registration, children’s check-in and contributions.
MH: Best practices in ministry?
BP: From an organizational perspective, churches get cluttered really easily. As a church grows, it typically adds new ministries, each with their own way of staying organized. Over time these develop into silos that compete for resources. And clutter happens. A few decades ago Carl George and others started helping the church realize that to grow beyond the limitations of these silos, churches had to get better at organizing. The idea of becoming a church “of” groups was born. That is, realizing that everything we do in church life is really a group whether we call it a small group, a class, a committee, a circle, a team, an event, a project or even a step in the process of assimilation. This idea simplifies church structure allowing the church to grow way beyond former limits. We designed Churchteams around this simple concept. It’s part of what makes it so intuitive and user-friendly.
MH: Tell us about the best practices in technology.
BP: When you’re talking about best practices in technology, there are four key ideas.
- First, move to the cloud. Software designed for the cloud is so much better than the hassle of managing servers, updates, back-ups, access, etc.. Churchteams has always been cloud-based. That’s home for us and our native language.
- Second, make it social. To me, social has come to mean the software needs to meet people where they are rather than asking people to come to it. Basic ideas here include: email notifications with one click response for group leaders, no login event registrations making it easy for people to connect, use of email, texting and linking to social media.
- Third, make it mobile. In 2013 we changed our entire platform to what’s called “responsive design”. This means the screen layout automatically adjusts to the device being used. Apps are separate products and limited in scope. Responsive platforms give you complete access to a fully integrated software on any device.
- Fourth make it smart. The next logical wave for technology is that it becomes responsible to both collect and report data. We have seen the power of this with how we get group leaders to use the software and then with the group health summary that is automatically emailed to small group pastors each month. They love seeing a 30,000 foot trend graph, a 5,000 foot health summary, and quick access to what’s really going at ground level for any particular group.
MH: What benefit does software built around groups have for churches?
BP: There are many benefits to Churchteams, but two important benefits are:
- It builds unity and alignment among staff. The tools people use influence how they view and manage their environment. Because everything in Churchteams is organized as a group, it gets staff on the same page to see themselves as coaches and team leaders.
- It simplifies things for volunteers in two ways. They don’t have to create accounts and remember login information to use the software. They understand expectations as they serve in and out of different ministries because every ministry is organized the same way.
Boyd Pelley is co-founder and President of Churchteams. He served on church staffs for 18 years as Discipleship, Administrative and Family Pastor. Initial development of the software was during the last 8 of these years. Mark coached Boyd while he was a small groups pastor. Married to Pam, they have two grown children. For more information, go to www.churchteams.com