Soul Searchin – Dark Times and a New Direction: The Making of Churchteams

by Boyd Pelley, President/Co-founder Churchteams

Boyd PelleyIn the fall of 1999, I was ready to bail on ministry. I had given it my all for a decade. I was disillusioned and tired.

I began talking to a friend about the possibility of joining him in his financial services company. He suggested that I do some research on the anticipated influence of the Internet on our economy. As I continued to read and learn, I began to think differently and was intrigued about the possibility of combining the Internet and ministry.

I shared my ideas with Mark Horan (he built the MS Access membership database we used in the church and is a world-class programmer). He, too, was intrigued by the idea and we decided to work together to build a web-based tool for making disciples and building teams. The obvious place to start was small groups.

Church & Small Group MedThe spring in my step for ministry returned and Churchteams was birthed. Within a few years dozens of churches were using (and thus developing) the online tool with me. A few years later there were hundreds. Finally, in 2008, the time came for me to leave the church staff in order to focus completely on Churchteams. We truly grew into this ministry.

Churchteams, started and still exists, primarily as a small group software that compliments other church management software by helping:

  1. people connect to groups
  2. leaders communicate with their group, coach and staff
  3. staff receive the info they need to better shepherd their small groups

However, in recent months at the urging of many churches, we have added features to serve as a full church database with a distinct small group flavor. Here’s how it works.

First, we link to your website providing a simple filter and interface between people looking for groups and group leaders. Guests don’t even have to login to use the tool to email leaders whose information is completely secure. Cced in, staff are kept in the loop without being the bottleneck to group connection.

Secondly, after each group meeting, we automatically send the leader an email with three choices:

  1. We met this week.
  2. We did not meet this week.
  3. I need to update my group information.

One click (no password to remember) and the leader is on the appropriate page. If he doesn’t respond to the email, he will get up to two more that week with a 4th notification going to his coach to check on him. Best of all, the meeting reports are intended as an email from the leader to his group keeping everyone engaged in the life of the small group. The result is 90-100% response from leaders each week!

Thirdly, there are unlimited options for communication and reporting. My favorite comes by email to the small group champion at the end of each month as a downloadable spreadsheet summary of her entire small group ministry. I used to spend 4-6 hours per month putting a fraction of this spreadsheet together. Now, we do it for you. Here are the highlights:

  1. group attendance each week,
  2. distinct number of attenders,
  3. number of guests,
  4. average overall attendance for the week and month, and
  5. groups with less than a 50% consistency rate.

This report gives you a monthly dashboard so that you can identify the groups that most need support and coaching. At the same time, you get the data that is most helpful to elders, trustees and executive staff.

In early 2009, we released features to track contributions and membership attributes building on our experience with membership databases and using the same proven principles of development that guided the genesis of our small group software. Examples include:

  1. contribution summary report that includes percentages of giving from people in groups,
  2. group-based assimilation,
  3. spiritual gift tracking,
  4. ministry involvement tracking,
  5. text-messaging, and
  6. emails for individuals to update their own information.

If you are happy with your current church management software, keep it and simply use Churchteams as your small groups add-on. We serve many hundreds of churches in this way.

As the Purpose Driven Small Group Network began to take shape in 2008, there was a need for online software to manage the rapidly growing network of members across North America. Cheryl Shireman, the PDSG Network Coordinator, contacted me about the possibility of using Churchteams. She had successfully used it in her previous position as Small Group Director of a church in Indiana, and thought that we might be a good fit. Many of the leaders in the PDSG Network were also already using Churchteams in their local churches, so I agreed it was natural for us to partner with PDSGN. Now we provide our software service to help manage this new and growing network of leaders committed to the notion that no leader should stand alone. I will never forget that others joined me in the dark night of my soul. The result was Churchteams. As you go through those times, let others stand with you. Who knows what God might do?

To learn more about Churchteams, visit us at www.churchteams.com. Click on the demo tab and accept our invitation to join Boyd for a small group and/or a membership webinar and to sign up for free passwords to look at a sample.

Boyd believes that analytics will do for ministry in the next 20 years what the arts have done for worship the past 20 years.

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