I once heard a pastor say you can not pray and no one would notice; you could not read your Bible and just fake it, but how you treat your finances is a powerful example of your faith. There's a worldly cost to it. It's Biblical for us to call our brothers and sisters in Christ to trust God with their finances as well as their prayer life. We believe this, and that's why our online giving feature not only tracks donations but the rest of a person's engagement with the Church all in one place.
Having an online giving option that fully integrates to your church management software can allow you to know if a family or individual is fully engaged by looking at their attendance, volunteer involvement, and giving records all together. The question to ask is: "How is your general ledger deeply integrated into discipleship and spiritual growth of your church and ministry?" It really isn't. We believe there is an easily defined break where money exchange moves from people growth to paying the bills.
A person’s giving is very much a part of their spirituality and is an indicator of where they are when it comes to becoming a “fully-devoted follower of Christ." - Kevin Stone
Here are a couple of reasons you can use a Church Management Software and a general ledger software without losing ground.
1. Evaluate your needs through ministry impact
Features and functions are important in evaluating software. Where we need to be careful is evaluating what we want, versus what will impact growing disciples. Giving is a big, ugly word in the Christian world but it's one we just can't avoid. The truth is that buildings don't buy themselves, missions don't just happen for free, and youth ministries requires a ton of ping pong balls and whoopee cushions that aren't free.
We don't want to get to where the Church is a business, just built to maximize profits and get the fanciest speakers. But we do want to do everything we do with excellence. Yes, tracking and building systems can feel like a business if we lose the why. We built our software to increase engagement and measure giving information, because we know its a byproduct of a person growing in a deeper relationship with Jesus.
2. Consider the story each area of finance describes
Kevin Stone at Executive Pastor Online helps articulate where one software ends while the other begins, "Church Management Software should provide the [church] with everything they need relative to “people"...Of course, “giving” is a “people thing.” A person’s giving is very much a part of their spirituality and is an indicator of where they are when it comes to becoming a “fully-devoted follower of Christ.” So, it should most definitely be part of the functionality of any Church Management Software....Budgets, asset tracking, bill payment, and financial reporting are all the responsibility of the General Ledger."
Church Management Software should be a discipleship tool
It can be easy to think of finances and just think accounting. But any accountant will tell you their lives become easier when the staff understand how to manage and track finances as well. Not only for the sanity of the finance team, but also for the accuracy of your people. Knowing where people are in their faith journey leads to deeper ministry and that's why we exist!
Your church management software can, and should be, so much more than a database — it should be a discipleship tool. Here are three reasons why:
1. As a church, you are called to reach, serve, and steward people ... and you can’t do that if they keep falling through the cracks.
It’s impossible to reach out to people who are falling away from the church if all you can see is that you had “roughly X number of people” in service last Sunday. should help you track those people and spot changes in their attending or giving patterns that you might not notice otherwise, so you know to reach out to them while you still can.
It's also important to see the process from guest to engaged as a path. You start the path by being a first time guest, and then, if systems are in place a person grows and joins a small group. Then they might start volunteering. At some point, they give once. Then they begin to give consistently! BUT that doesn't happen without intentionality. If you don't know where they are on their path, it's hard to know how to move them along towards a deeper relationship with God.
2. All the leaders in your church need tools, not just the office admins.
Not just your paid staff, even. Your small group leaders need a central place to connect people. Your connections volunteers need a tool to manage the process guests go through as they move from first-time visitors to fully engaged members. "All your leaders need to be in an interconnected system" Your financial administrator needs to be able to connect people’s gifts to their profiles so a huge step in the journey of spiritual growth—obedience in giving—is reflected in the same place as other information about that person. Everything each of these leaders touches individually is a vital piece of the picture about that person as a whole. They need to be in an interconnected system.
3. Good tools — tracking real, relevant information about individual people — produce good data for making good decisions.
The reason it’s important for your small groups leaders, connections volunteers, and financial administrator to be working in the same system is that all that information, taken together, can give the leaders who need it a holistic view of not just an individual, but the church as a whole. You probably have good instincts about what’s going on in your ministry right now, where you’re struggling and where you’re succeeding ... but that’s no reason to downplay the value of having data to back it up. Whether the numbers affirm your instincts or challenge you in a new way, they enable leaders to make ministry decisions on a solid foundation.’