Does the Church Market Really Need Another Church Management System? – Part 1

Does the Church Market Really Need Another Church Management System? – Part 1

Plot lines …

  • Innovation is sometimes originally viewed with skepticism.
  • Innovation is not doing what’s already been done.
  • Where is the innovation from current church management vendors?

Does the church market really need another church management system? That same question could have been asked back when we first started Fellowship One almost fifteen years ago. If my memory serves me correctly, at that time there were upwards of 100 church management systems on the market; a majority of them being of the old PC-based variety. Fellowship One was the first SaaS (Software as a Service) built for the mega-church market and had its strength in helping church staffs and volunteers deal with large numbers of people needing to be dealt with through antiquated processes on Sunday mornings designed for smaller churches.

Fellowship One’s flagship capability was its children’s check-in system. It was ahead of its time and is still arguably one of the better ones out there even today. Believe it or not, many churches were skeptical that such a function was really even needed. I remember a few people saying it was a cool concept and that maybe up to a dozen churches around the country might need children’s check-in. That is how misunderstood the concept was. However, as it became more prevalent, this kind of innovation spurred the legacy software vendors to get their act together and now nearly every ChMS worth its subscription fee targeted at churches above 200 in attendance has a children’s check-in capability of some kind.

Unfortunately, Fellowship One had difficulty in supporting smaller churches at a reasonable price. In 2011, we sold Fellowship One to Active Network partially due to this limitation, but more so to try to fulfill a vision that would integrate the platform to the larger vision of churches being connected to a secular network that could be used as an outreach channel through the very popular Needless to say, for a number of reasons, that never happened.

As our team evaluated the current state of the ChMS market, we see little innovation evident among the current vendors. Many of them are still trying to simply improve upon the functionality conceptualized by Fellowship One years ago. Although the advancements in technology and the state of the church market has changed significantly, church systems are primarily focused on the efficiencies associated with Sunday mornings (ok, and a few Saturday nights).

Today, nearly all industries are experiencing what is being called “Digital Transformation.” Some are experiencing what is referred to as “Digital Disruption,” because new players are coming into the market space and upending the market so much that the historical players are just barely surviving, or sadly, they are not! Think AirBNB, Uber, Amazon, and Peloton to name a few.

  • The hospitality industry is having to react to AirBNB and the convenience of having an entire apartment or home to use for a price cheaper than the equivalent number of hotel rooms.
  • Uber has devastated the taxi-cab industry.
  • Amazon has conquered a number of industries through the use of more automation and better data.
  • Peloton gives you an instructor-led home gym with a virtual community of like-minded athletes to interact with.

Digital Transformation provides so many benefits that are too numerous to name here at this time. We will blog about them in the near future so keep looking for updates in this space.

Unfortunately, my marketing department says that this story post is too long already, that most people do not read this much anymore at one time, so I will continue this in the next blog post and provide you with the answer to the above question. If you want to discuss some ideas about church systems, drop me an email at or text me at (214) 668-9807. I look forward to hearing from you.

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