Customer Spotlight: Granger Community Church - Part 2
Customer Spotlight: Granger Community Church - Part 2
You started CITRT (Church IT Roundtable), how did that come about?
It started 12 years ago as just an idea, “What might God do if a bunch of Church IT folks got together in a room, and the agenda was simply to ask questions and get answers from each other.” Just a pure round table in action.
Back then, social media was mainly blogs. I had a blog that was pretty active that I posted to regularly. That’s how I was finding and connecting with other church IT folks. I started at Granger in 2003, as their first full-time IT staff member, and felt really alone. I wanted to talk to other church IT staff members, especially churches similar in size. So, I just threw it out there, “Come to Granger for a day, and we’ll just do a round table.” I put a cap at 25 people, and it filled up quickly with peers from churches of 400 to 20,000.
It went over so well, that everyone wanted to do it again and make it bigger. So now, every year in the fall, we have the National Church IT Conference which has grown into a 2 ½ day event with an attendance of 400+ and workshops covering IT, Web, Development, ChMS, Leadership, and Online Church.
So how did you hear about MinistryPlatform?
Well, I knew Kevin McCord and Stephen Wareham through the Church IT Round Table (CITRT) before MinistryPlatform was born. They mentioned they were working on a new ChMS and they were both really excited about it. I met Chris Kehayais at the 2008 CITRT and we hit it off immediately. Then in 2011, we asked Chris to be part of the CITRT leadership team. Even before he came on board with MinistryPlatform, he was often telling me about his success using the software at Calvary Chapel Melbourne. So, I had been hearing about the MinistryPlatform for years before we switched over.
What finally made you take the plunge?
We went to the MinistryPlatform User Group Event (MPUG) in the Spring of 2015 to get a better feel for what the software could do and get some questions answered.
What I loved about MPUG, as a non-customer, was how open they were to having us there. We felt very welcomed, and it was an environment where we were encouraged to ask a lot of questions.
The event was awesome. It was great to interact with other customers; great to see if people were drinking the Kool-Aid, or if they were really this excited about the software. What we found is that people were really this excited about a Church Management Software.
We walked away from MPUG going, "Alright, this seems like a no-brainer, what are we missing?”
We came back to Granger and everyone agreed it was time to take the plunge. I signed contract later that year, and implemented in November of 2015.
You went to MPUG before you became a customer? What did you think?
It was a great place to go and see the community [of current users]. We could pick other folks’ brains.
ThinkMinistry actually made it a point to connect us with users who had switched from our old software to MinistryPlatform. It was super helpful to be able to ask them about struggles and bumps that they had to overcome, and hear how the software helped their churches. I specifically remember talking to Bethlehem Baptist and Grace Church because they had made the switch and had great documentation.
All of us from Granger split up and went to different workshops. We had heard MinistryPlatform was really flexible, and you could make changes to make it fit how we did church, but this was where we really got to see that in action.
But you weren’t a customer yet, so what did you like about the MPUG workshops?
Our Finance Director sat in on the Finance Workshops so that he could see for himself what new things were coming out at MinistryPlatform, and he could interact with his financial peers and ask them questions.
Our Web Director went to workshops focused on how to skin the portal and customize it. He was able to sit in and see what you could actually customize and how easy it was to accomplish.
We got to hear and see what current customers were working on. The Customer Spotlights, where real customers get up and speak about the really cool stuff they are doing to extend the platform, were really eye opening. I think that speaks a lot to the community, the MPUG event itself, and the Think Ministry Leadership Team – it wasn’t just the MinistryPlatform Team talking and teaching. It’s hearing the amazing things that the guys at 12 Stone are doing with engagement tracking. Or you get to hear about a church that is knocking it out of the park with their care case strategy. Or another church will sharing their amazing documentation and success stories in training their staff. The event was way better than I was expecting it to be.
Any last thoughts for churches who are considering switching their ChMS platform?
When I run into people thinking about MinistryPlatform, I strongly urge them to grab their Executive Team and key stakeholders and go to MPUG. Go, listen, learn, ask questions – you’ll learn so much more than you’ll get with a sales demo over Skype, though they do a great job with those too.
Change is hard. After ten years on the same ChMS platform, I knew there would be challenges selling this to folks at Granger so that they would actually be excited to make the change. MPUG was awesome for getting our key stakeholders on board and ready to tackle the switch to help make our ministries more efficient and effective to ultimately enable even greater Kingdom impact.
This is part two of a two-part Customer Spotlight. To read the first part of this interview with Granger's Jason Powell, please click HERE.