Monday, December 15, 2008

Church Management Software Comparison Chart

To see the chart, CLICK HERE.

Churches have to track a lot of people information to better facilitate ministry. And of course, as the church gets larger, there's going to be more data. This implies that sometimes a church would outgrow one ChMS for another over time.

There've been a handful of softwares that have been around for years in the category called "church management software" (ChMS). These track not only addresses and financial donations in some kind of a database (or databases), but some track ministry involvement, correspondence log, and more.

According to this comparison chart compiled by Christian Computing Magazine, there are 27 church management softwares. (implying at least 27 exist.) The chart is very handy in that you can get a side-by-side comparison between various ChMS features.

[from Digital @ Leadership Network by Leadership Network]

Pastor Steps Down From Powder Springs Church

The congregation of the 7,000-member Trinity Chapel in Powder Springs learned Sunday that founding pastor Jim Bolin had stepped down from his position because of “inappropriate sexual behavior.”

Justin Harley, Trinity Chapel’s elder of counseling, later revised the church’s statement to officially include the phrase “inappropriate consensual sexual conduct with an adult woman” to explain Bolin’s departure.

(PDF: Read the statement from Trinity Chapel)

During the emotional 90-minute service, church officials said Bolin would go through a two-year “restoration process,” which includes counseling, through the Church of God. Bolin did not attend the service.

Bolin, 56, will be inactive in the ministry during that period, said Justin Harley, Trinity Chapel’s director of counseling.

Bolin’s 32-year-old son, Jason Bolin, raised in the church his parents started in an Austell Road storefront 25 years ago with five families, will take over as head pastor, assisted by his wife Sarah Bolin. He had been on the church staff the last 10 years, most recently as executive pastor.

The announcement was made from the pulpit by Donald M. Walker, the state administrative bishop for the Church of God. Walker called the day “rueful and sobering” and often choked up and dabbed his eyes. He began by reading a letter to the congregation from Jim Bolin.

Bolin opened the letter by saying “I have sinned against God” and that takes “full responsibility and blame” for the circumstances that have rocked the church during the last week. He provided no other details.

“Today you see what a wrong choice has caused,” Bolin wrote. “Please learn from this.”
Bolin also said that “the road to restitution is long,” adding, “I’m not finished yet.”

The more than 2,000 people in attendance for the first of two morning services often gave standing ovations to Walker and Jason Bolin when they asked forgiveness for their founding pastor, and called on the church to unite and move forward.

“I think the church will be stronger than ever,” said Teri Burns of Powder Springs, a member for six years. “Jim Bolin was my hero. But he is also human and I forgive him. It’s been a tough week, but it’s over. There’s a new week ahead.”

[By DREW JUBERA - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Costco Turns Around on Christmas

Costco is now recognizing Christmas in a big, new way!

Two weeks ago, their website and store was practically absent of any references to “Christmas.” Today, you’ll find Christmas prominently featured on their website and email promotions. And, if you call their corporate offices, you’ll be greeted with “Merry Christmas from Costco!”

One unnamed store manager said, “The company has received so many e-mails and complaints that they are changing all their holiday cakes to say Merry Christmas and will be saying it in the stores.”

We have thanked Costco on your behalf. If you'd like to thank them personally, they may be contacted through their website at

Companies FOR "Christmas" This Year

(Updated 12-15-08)

Bass Pro Shops

Bed Bath & Beyond


Best Buy

Big Lots


Dollar Tree

Family Dollar

Dollar General

Home Depot







Rite Aid


Super D Drug Stores



Wal-Mart/Sam's Club

[Research by]

Companies AGAINST "Christmas" This Year

(As of 12-15-08)

- Barnes & Noble 1-800-843-2665 - Offers "Holiday Gift Guide." Christmas not found on website. Online feedback form (bottom of page)

- Braum's Ice Cream 1-877-274-4197 Sells "holiday" items only. Online feedback form

- CVS Pharmacy 1-800-746-7287 - CVS offers a "Holiday Center" on its website. The Nov. paper insert avoids using the term "Christmas." Phone: 1-888-607-4287 or email

- Gap Stores (Gap, Old Navy) 1-800-427-7895 - Gap stores avoid using Christmas at every opportunity, being a very secular company.

- Kroger 1-866-221-4141 -Website uses "holiday" extensively. Weekly ad uses "holiday." email Kroger

- Office Depot 1-800-463-3768 - Newspaper inserts reference "holiday" only. Website void of Christmas references. Online form

- Olive Garden 1-800-331-2729 -

- Radio Shack 1-800-843-7422 - Website search for "Christmas" results in "holiday" page. No mention of Christmas anywhere. Online feedback form

- Staples 508-253-0879 - Staples' press release referred to "holiday" 13 times without a single mention of Christmas. Last year, Staples emailed a customer to say it refused to post "Christmas" signs in their store. Live chat with Staples online or email Staples.

- SUPERVALU 952-828-4000 -Owns Albertsons and Jewel-Osco. Refers to Christmas decorations as "holiday" on website and weekly ads. email SUPERVALUE

[Research by]

How to Recruit and Keep Volunteers

Ask for them – how will they know you need help if you don’t communicate the need? Research shows that most senior citizen say they would volunteer more if asked, and other studies show that teen volunteerism has risen consistently over the past several decades. Look at the outpouring of support following 9/11 and Katrina! Most people want to help worthy causes, but don’t because no one asks. Go ask them to help!

Define what you want – tell them what they’re needed for. It might be as simple as being a crowd behind the politician for the cameras. Or it might need a special skill. Friends of mine who are doctors and dentists volunteer their time regularly. I have asked for volunteers to do unusual jobs like unload carpet from a truck, write press releases, and grill an evening meal at a shelter. In each case, I was able to find people who really wanted to do that thing, and were energized by it.

Make it meaningful –It helps to give someone a job that matters to them. Bill Hybels, of Willow Creek church, says that if leaders are not given leadership-style jobs to do, they often will sit on their hands and do nothing. Christian Schwartz discovered the same thing, saying that people are energized when they are given jobs that match their giftedness and skill. This may take some creativity. Ed is a lawyer, but when he went with a dental mission team, he was the one giving encouragement and instruction on how to brush – he was the star of the trip, and longs to go again.

Give guidance about what results you expect, and how well the volunteer is doing toward meeting those expectations. Treat them similar to how you would treat every other employee. And in reality, they are your corporate workforce, doing tasks you would otherwise have to pay for. At times, you will need to give additional job training and redirect their efforts, even change their job to something more appropriate to their abilities.

Listen for input – about how to do it better, or how else they might want to serve. Too often, paid leaders start to believe that they are the experts and that no one else has any good ideas. Instead, you might have someone who really wants to do a certain thing, and if she can’t find a group to do it for, she’ll create a competing charity. Why not find a middle ground, a way for that person to do something similar to what they want to do within the boundaries of your organizational objectives? It might open a whole new facet of organizational service, and expose you to a new group of donors!

Provide off-ramps for volunteers to take time off. Just as you need vacation breaks away from your paid employment, volunteers will often need time away from long-term volunteering commitments. Others will need permission to step away and stop doing what they have been doing. I’ve been in situations where we couldn’t do any leadership development – or even new volunteer recruitment – until a key volunteer was given permission to leave a key duty they had been doing for years. They “retired” from that area of service to be able to do something else that needed their skills, so that we could grow the charity in different directions.

Acknowledge and reward their contribution. Far too many organizations treat their volunteers as a throw-away commodity, instead of a capital asset. Terry Axlll’s classic book Raising More Money says to involve the person in the volunteering, and cautions not to treat donors as “ATM machines” that you only run to when you need a quick infusion. Instead, it is important to ...

Thank them immediately after a big event. The phrase “thank before you bank” works with volunteer service as well. Do not wait to give them praise. Express verbal thanks during the event and send a note of appreciation to arrive within a week afterward. Each intervening day lessens the impact.

Thank them sincerely. A form letter (or worse, an email) will not work for this kind of recognition!) Give personalized thanks for how the job they did contributed to the event’s results. If you defined the jobs clearly, this should be easy.

Thank them appropriately. If the big donors received a lavish prize and the workers who made it all happen didn’t even get fed, your thanks will ring hollow. Provide sufficient snacks & drinks during the event, and make provisions for a gathering afterward that is tailored to them. If you have been listening, you will know what motivates them, and that they prefer a weekend volunteer lunch of soup and sandwich and conversation at the Director’s waterfront house to an expensive dinner on a school night.

I’m sure the list is not complete, but it’s a pretty good start. Give it a try and tell me how it worked.