Church leaders will have to embrace continuous innovation. Leaders making strategic decisions that helps them to optimize and automate will lead effective churches. Let’s consider the metaphor of four levels of car that is available to us.
Level 1: Sedan – Standardization
The church is Pastoral-based. Pastors, Elders/Deacons, and volunteers are helping manage the workload.
Many of the process are manual. The need here is to get things standardized so that it becomes easier to manage.
A small Information Technology team, limited revenue, and reliance on manual processes make it challenging to be at the cutting edge. There is a reason why church documents are retained in banker’s boxes and stored in some dingy backrooms in most churches at this level. Smaller DIY (Do-It-Yourself) churches survive by pushing away the important for the urgent.
Level 2: Minivan – Optimization
The church is Platform-based but using low-end traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Platforms like Planning Center, ACS Technologies, Church Community Builder, Shelby, or Rock RMS are utilized. Processes are not entirely manual. Live dashboards are missing. Many of the reports that Pastors needs have to be created. What got a church to this point will not take this church any further. There is a need to streamline and automate processes, increase revenue, decrease cost, and manage risk better.
One of the realities during this phase is that many platforms are utilized to cover different things. These platforms are not at the cutting edge of automation and artificial intelligence (A.I.). These platforms do not talk to one another. CRM in a church at this level is not their system of records. Everyone is responsible, but no one is really responsible. Internal processes are fragmented, and at times disjointed.
Level 3: Hybrid – Automation
A church at this level is using a marketing platform. Church’s data is in silos. Different teams are using digital platforms and cannot easily share the data across systems and departments.
Social networks, OCR document scanning, and Learning Management System (LMS) are not integrated with your CRM. You rushed to pick up a Church App provider who offered you a community forum, you forgot how to discuss how will the Learning Management System and forum for online courses will integrate into a connected ecosystem.
You are better at posting your content than listening to the silent and anonymous digital lurkers. You are beginning to experience the main of many-to-many communication due to an increase in the use of social medial networks and messaging channels.
Introducing automation is creating the need to restructure human resources. Everyone knows something needs to be done. There is a lack of understanding of what is required.
Level 4: Electric – Innovation
Innovation leads the church to move from traditional to social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as your system of record. The goal is to deliver the right experience, to the right people, at the right time. It can come only from integrated thinking and solution.
Multi-faceted platforms need to be a part of a connected ecosystem. Automation needs to eliminate manual processes and data entry. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) needs to provide insights into visitor’s patterns, attendance routines, and offer personalized engagement. I have been working with Salesforce CRM since 2015. That is what makes me run.
Church leaders need to understand that right tools are needed to innovate and optimize. We crawl in Level 1 (Sedan), walk in Level 2 (Minivan), jog in Level 3 (Hybrid), and run in Level 4 (Electric).
(Excerpts from my book, The New Normal of Leadership: Innovation & Technology in Church 4.0, Source: https://amitabhsingh.com/books/)