At their core level, church management software systems, (as well as computers, streaming media, ministry models, buildings, small group and discipleship programs, etc.) are simply tools. As we come to the close of our blog series on church management software, we remind ourselves of how powerful these tools can be, but at the same time, we remind ourselves of the necessity of placing these tools in their proper context. Technology is not THE answer. We must carefully consider what tools are and what they are not; what they are good for and what they are not good for; what they can accomplish and what they cannot.
“The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great strength it cannot rescue.” Psalms 33:16-17
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Isaiah 31:1
The Psalms passage cited above warns us against putting too much hope in tools, and reminds us that, in and of themselves, these tools cannot rescue people and change lives. This same theme is stated throughout scripture and is applied to such “tools” as armies, warhorses, chariots, weapons, armor, etc. In light of today’s rapid expansion and development of ministry technology tools, this admonition is timely and valuable.
Often, churches buy or employ tools or models with a subconscious “silver bullet” theory in mind: “If we can just get this tool implemented – our lives, work, and ministry issues will be fixed.” This reliance on tools as the answer is almost never a conscious thought, but it does exist in the minds of many church staff that we serve. Unfortunately, this type of reliance on tools is misplaced and unfruitful.
We must resist the temptation to think that the implementation of our church management applications, ministry models, etc. will suddenly do the work of connecting with people, making wise decisions, and encouraging hearts towards Jesus. No software package is equipped to love people. At the end of the day, “the victory belongs to the Lord,” and regardless of the tool employed, “apart from Christ we can do nothing” (John 15:5). So, while “some trust in chariots and some in horses, we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalms 20:7).
Technology Has a Valuable Role to Play
However, all of this DOES NOT mean that tools are not important or helpful. Most emphatically, they are!
From the biblical perspective, armies, chariots, warhorses, weapons and armor are positioned as valuable implements of war. But only as they are kept in their proper context. ChMS software and other ministry technologies can be extremely helpful in enabling ministry; this concept is at the very heart of Enable Ministry Partners’ philosophy. We are dedicated to helping churches implement technology tools and ministry processes to aid in the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the expansion of the Kingdom of God. In fact, the wise implementation of technology tools and approaches is the primary way that we pursue our mission of Changing Lives by Serving Those Who Serve. However, we are not under any delusion that our core technology services, strategic consulting, or data analytics offering are divine or can change lives in and of themselves. They are simply tools that, when used in pursuit of God’s objectives in the power of God’s Spirit, can be powerful implements in ministering to others.
Important Considerations in the Use of Ministry Technology
Because ChMS software and other ministry technologies are merely tools, they should be subjected to all the normal considerations we place on tools. Below, we discuss three of those considerations.
First, as tools, they are helpful only to the degree that they help a church accomplish or advance the specific ministry objectives that reflect the church’s unique identity and defined strategy. We covered this concept in detail in our post on starting with your church’s unique strategy.
Second, the tool needs to be matched to the specific job or challenge. The choice of any tool must be preceded by a clear vision of the objective or target to be accomplished. For example, chainsaws are indispensable for cutting trees into firewood but are not particularly helpful in the realm of delicate microvascular surgery. Your specific target will dictate the tool you use. Once you have your tool, the tool will dictate how you will employ it. For instance, if you are a church that is organized around a certain kind of small group structure, you will want to employ a ChMS that is designed to support that type of structure and the ministry “flow” and “data capture events” that arise from that structure. You can have the best quality tools available, but if those tools are not properly matched to your specific objective, they are not the best choice for you.
Third, for a tool to be effective, the user must be familiar with and skilled in the use of the tool. This takes time and requires sufficient training, practice and actual experience with the tool. Again, the best tools available in the wrong hands, or in inexperienced hands, will not be effective. We see a great example of this in 1 Samuel as David prepares to go out and meet Goliath on the field of battle:
“Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail,and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:38-40
While Saul’s armor worked very well for him, it was not a fit for David. David did not have experience with those “tools,” and they were not appropriate for him and his purposes. He was much more comfortable with those familiar implements he had used successfully to defend his flocks against bears and lions. And in this case, David’s use of those tools was more appropriate in fighting the giant Goliath than trying to match him head-to-head with the same tools that were appropriate for Goliath.
The Proper Balance
We believe the appropriate balance and proper approach to using technology tools can be found in the story of David and Goliath. David absolutely utilized tools in his battle with Goliath, but he did not rely on those tools as the primary source of his power in the battle.
“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45
David understood well the appropriate power and context of the tools in this specific battle with Goliath. His sling and stones were appropriate weapons that not only fit this specific challenge but were ones with which he was very familiar and skilled. But his hope was not in these tools. His hope was in the power of “the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.”
In Psalms 20:7, David writes: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
At Enable we believe that the proper approach to ChMS and ministry technology is to “put our trust and hope in the name of the Lord our God” and do all that we can to wisely employ and leverage the technology tools and approaches available to us.