Inviting back the church’s lost generation
The church currently faces a dilemma. Where have its young adults gone, and how can it get them back? Over the last few decades it has become clear that less and less young people are joining and staying within the church. According to a recent report from The Guardian, the average age of congregations in the Church of England is now 62. Young adults today are more likely to claim no religious affiliation, and less likely to attend worship. They marry later, have children later (with more and more having none at all) meaning they miss important milestones to get involved in the church early on.
At ChurchDesk we often hear churches commenting that they’re too old or too small to really benefit from a church management system. They mention that not enough of their congregation use computers, or that it’s difficult to set up; It’s too costly, and they wouldn’t save enough time on admin. We disagree, and want you to know why.
We are launching the greatest improvement to our app so far, making it possible to communicate with your congregation from your phone. When we launched “People” last autumn it was with the ambition to make it simple to use for direct and personal communication with the congregation and other interested people. We believe that the church is under increasing pressure - it must find a way to communicate that resonates with the youth group, and have the tools to support the employees and volunteers in the church in the best possible way. Since smartphones have recently overtaken laptops as the UK internet users’ number one device, these tools cannot be restricted to computer use, they have to also be available via phone. Therefore it is with great pleasure that we announce this update.
Sue Clarke, the vicar at St Paul’s Furzedown, has sat down with ChurchDesk to tell us about her experience with the set-up process. St Paul’s is a small, Anglican church in South London. Approximately 70% of the congregation is Afro-Caribbean and they see an average attendance of 50 on a Sunday morning.
How to break down the barriers to (positive) change at your church?
Most people who are involved in the activities of a church accept the undeniable fact that making decisions related to the church can be an extremely lengthy and complex process. Many stakeholders’ opinions need to be taken into account and in order to convince the committee a careful evaluation of the alternatives must be completed. Many church workers involved in the decision making process can only offer their services part time, and the larger the group of decision makers, the harder it gets. Scheduled committee meetings are practically the only setting where decisions can be taken. Here, the more topics there are that need to be addressed, the less likely a firm decision will be taken on each one, and a good proposal might be shot down simply due to the fact that there is not enough time to debate the topic.
Many of us remember putting our coins on the collection plate as it was passed around at church service. But people have been predicting the end of cash for more than 60 years and now, in 2016, that is starting to look real. With more than 50% of all payments in the UK being made by card or online, and with 40% of Brits believing they won't use cash 10 years from now, the church must find an alternative way to collect donations. This is why digital payments, and ChurchDesk’s Contributions, are so important.
Many churches I meet have one address book in their Outlook, another in their GMail, and various bits of paper lying about with contact information on. Unfortunately this is rarely used (and even more rarely organised into useful categories) which means that right now there are many people who could be missing out on information from their church. In many places the printed church newsletter has been phased out, or is on a limited release. This creates an even greater need for additional information to be sent out to the congregation, in order for them to be kept informed about what goes on. We know from our studies that direct and targeted communication, such as e-mail, results in more uptake and participation in church events. It is therefore important that we make it quick and simple to get in touch with the right people.
Church Management Systems have a plethora of built-in features, so the answer to this question can be unique to each individual church. However, there are common objectives that all churches work towards: growing the congregation by improving the way the church engages people and increasing the ability to give back to their community. Some specific features will be more beneficial to certain churches over others (better Calendar, Database, Website, Bookings, Communications, etc.), but all features are designed to collectively reach these overarching goals.
At ChurchDesk we have a clear goal: we want to help churches towards simpler workflows and more engaged members. It is no small vision, but nonetheless, we have already helped thousands of church staff towards an easier working day. With a simple yet strong management system, built and developed specifically for the church and its needs, we have proven we live up to the expectations set for us. Now is the time to share our knowledge with even more churches across the world. As such, we have hired Troels Bødker Feodor Nielsen as our new Chief Marketing Officer.
We are rolling out an important improvement. This isn’t just a new feature, but an entirely new way of using ChurchDesk, with a centralised dashboard with important personalised insights. What if we could help you make better decisions based on data that you have already built? We want to help you in your daily work by presenting insights that are relevant to you, enabling you to learn more from and about your congregation.
In the last few months ChurchDesk has experienced some major events and we would like to take this opportunity to tell you all about it. Firstly, over the summer, we obtained a substantial capital injection from an internationally recognized investment group. This investment came on the back of significant recognition of the product and the value we have created for our customers. As well as this we have made further investments into our team and have recently employed three new country managers with vast experience and ambitious profiles that will further enhance our local focus. Finally we are happy to announce our new office in the center of London. Our UK customer interests are continuing to grow and this office will serve to meet these demands now and in the future.
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