When complacency is warned against in a church on a Sunday morning, church management software (ChMS) is never accused of making people lazy—but ChMS often does. In humanity’s quest to make our lives easier, we have at times relied more and more on machines to make the decisions for us – some times too much. This reliance or complacency is one aspect where a software solution can be misused; humans will rely on the device’s judgment more than their own judgment .
Some possible processes in your church software that may make it easier for the users.
- If we had an automated visitation assimilation process we would have less manual entry and more visitors would become members.
- If we had an automated child check-in our children would be safe.
All of the above sounds great, but reality is, software can’t replace human judgment in ambiguous situations when humans are so complex. Computers are good for repetitive monotonous tasks, but humans are the best for ambiguous decision making. Church processes outside of these two areas should be reviewed and discussed to ensure that software complacency is properly addressed (e.g. membership, contributions, etc.).
Visitor Assimilation – Using church software that automates a majority, if not all, of the decisions for the user removes the personal touch that people seek in a church. Study after study have shown that new visitors come to church seeking a personal connection to people. Currently software has a hard time processing the personal touch and communication with the ambiguous nature that makes us emotionally driven humans.
For example, a church receives a visitor card with contact information and sends their first communique via email. Most visitors can tell if the sent email was personalized to them or one that was sent as a mass communication to all first-time visitors. While mass communication harnessed with technology has its place, is this the right place? Let’s look at it differently – as a visitor would you rather get a personalized email with a few sentences strewn together or one that was sent to every one even if it had more information? The one strewn together was from someone genuine that took the time to write to a person and make it personal. It has a better chance of getting read and responded to than one that is used over and over again for all visitors.
Successful assimilation means the person successfully connected at a personal level first and didn’t get some canned response from the church or its leaders. You can read more about the assimilation process and how software should help in our previous article on the subject.
The link below is a story and some commentary from pastors answering questions about visitor assimilation from various churches’ perspectives. The story is about a person named “Deb” and the personal relationship that was built over a year with the parking attendants. They showed a personal and loving nature towards Deb without her ever stepping into the church.
Questions: What kind of emails do you prefer to receive from a church that you visited the first time? Church leaders, what kind of email do you send to first time visitors, the mass or personalized email?
Child Check-In – Automated child check-in could definitely make children safe when correctly done and every process is adhered too. However, when this doesn’t happen often times a catastrophe is lurking right around the corner. As with most things in life that are made to protect us (e.g. software), harm can happen when not they’re not used properly. Is it possible the church chose a software that is so feature rich (e.g. automation like biometric for fingerprint scanning) that too few people understand its implications or use? Certainly there is a time where a feature rich system is needed; however, I would submit that only the mega churches fall into this category, possibly. Feature rich systems typically require on-site church IT staff to facilitate the proper use. Even the most sophisticated system needs a human behind it to make the ambiguous decisions that aren’t programmed into the software.
Let’s use an example of a grandfather picking up his grandchild at church. The grandfather is authorized to pick up the grandchild according to the software. You witness that he is visibly upset and mentions that he just had a car accident five minutes ago. Would you release the child into his custody without doing a little more checking into the situation or calling the parents of the child to ask them if it would be okay? While the computer says you can release the child into his custody legally, the human decision process tells us we should take some precautions first. The software was never programmed to make this type of ambiguous decision. There are subtle computer decisions everyday that give one result, but a human would come to a different result – often better.
Question: Has one child since last Sunday has a change in their parental guardianship? If just one child’s guardianship changed and wasn’t updated, then the wrong person could pick that child up – putting the church at a liability risk and worse putting the child in danger. What kind of system would the church prefer – one where the church updates all the information or one that puts that responsibility onto the parents?
- Parasuraman, R., Riley, V.: Humans and automation: Use, misuse, disuse, abuse. Hum Factors 39, 230-253 (1997)