CRM – Why Not?

At Conversatio Morum, we like to rethink technology for the church. Our goal is to tie Theology to Culture through the use of Technology. With that being said, we’re currently in the middle of talking about utilizing Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems as Church Relationship Management systems. We’ve previously intro’d, talked about the purpose of doing so, and talked about different types of CRM’s here, here, and here.

Today, we are going to talk about reasons why you might NOT want to use a CRM system.
I’ve stated before that the best way to fix a problem is not always with a technology solution. Sometimes you have a people/culture problem. In that instance, a technology solution will end up collecting dust. So it’s best not to adopt a technology if it isn’t going to be used. Good questions to start with are:

  1. How big do we want to be as a church? (If you’re already big enough, then stop thinking about how to reach out.)
  2. Is Evangelism a value?
  3. Is Discipleship a value?
  4. Are these values already being lived out naturally?
    1. Are these values being lived out so effectively there is no need for improvement?
    2. Are there places we can get better at living out these values?
  5. Are these values not being lived out naturally?
    1. Is there a disconnect between our values and our actions?
    2. Where does work need to happen for this disconnect to change?

Now I’m going to explain the reason behind each question and how it may help you with deciding if your church needs a CRM.

  1. This is a legitimate question. If you can’t answer this, it may mean you haven’t set goals or have stopped looking outwardly at those who don’t yet know Jesus. There’s your first problem. Size is also going to play out differently depending on your FORM of church. If you’re part of a house church planting movement where your goal is to get to 30 and then multiply into two churches, then the answer here may be completely different then if you’re part of a group of 100’s or 1000’s that gather on a Sunday.
  2. This may be a value for you, but you need to be able to answer this for your entire congregation. As with the previous question, if you can’t answer this then you may have a bigger problem on your hand. I’ve generally found that if you can’t answer this, then it’s best to assume the answer is no. The reason being is that people always have a tendency to turn inwards instead of looking outwards. Those who naturally want to reach out are the exception.
  3. As with the previous question this may also be a value for you, but you need to be able to answer this for your entire congregation. As with the previous question, if you can’t answer this then you may have a bigger problem on your hand. Most people don’t get the idea that salvation wasn’t given to them, just for them and the tie between actual parenthood and spiritual parenthood lacking in most of our congregations. The other thing I’ve found, is that even those who value discipleship feel unqualified without specific teaching and training on the subject. Press on this over and over, give training, and give the vision that discipleship only requires one step ahead of the person you’re leading.
  4. If this is true in your congregation, then keep doing whatever you’re doing. That’s awesome!!
    1. As I stated previously, the point of a CRM isn’t the technology but follow-up, discipleship, and involvement in body life. If you already have follow-up happening, and a CRM is going to cause more work that is unnecessary, then please don’t do that. I’m a big fan of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
    2. You may already have a culture that values discipleship and evangelism. You may already be on the path and have some good systems in place. The question then becomes, can they be improved?  As an example, we took a survey in our church and found that a good percentage of our church were in mentoring/discipleship relationships. Our problem isn’t necessarily living out these values. (Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely areas of this we found we can improve and we’re working on them.) Our problem is communicating things for body life. So having a CRM that would send out automated emails, texts, and tweets letting people know about how they can participate would be a high advantage.
  5. If the answer here is yes, then implementing a CRM is the wrong answer. There probably needs to be some teaching on those values in a specific way. Now I will say that having some systems in place already to give people a next step is a good idea. That way they have an easy way to respond. Just keep in mind that having the technology without vision about the why is a problem.
    1. Again, this is one of those teaching things. Sometimes the value is there and no one knows what to do about it. Chances are most people don’t even have the language to come up to you and articulate what they’re feeling about it so that you can do something about it. Part of your job is to teach on that so that they do have the language and do know what to do about it.
    2. Has teaching happened on the values? If not, then chances are this isn’t on anyone’s grid. Are you modeling these out? If not, then what do you need to adjust so that people not only see you teaching, but living? Does there need to be a system in place so that people can respond to what you’re already teaching? If so then get with someone in your church whose good at organizational strategy in business. This can also help that person see their gifting and talents be connected to serving the church.

For some resources on discipleship you can go to these links:
AMI Discipleship Resources
Outreach Ninja

Hopefully this will help give you some clarity about CRM systems. Specifically regarding if you should utilize this tool in your own church. What do you think? Are there any other questions that should be asked to give clarity? Are there other good discipleship resources that you know of? Did this bring up any questions for you? Feel free to comment, share, or ask questions below.