We are living through a difficult and sobering time, both in our world and in the Church. Most Masses are closed to the public. Church offertories are non-existent in some places. Parishioners are fearful for family and friends. The picture at first sight is not pretty.
However, now is the time when Church needs to be Church. Those themes that have been talked about in workshops, seminars, and webinars for years are now no longer talking points. They have become necessities: mission, engagement, discipleship, stewardship. We as Church must take seriously who we are and how we interact with the world. In that regard, technology is no longer a luxury for the wealthiest of parishes. It is a needed component of any community because it can connect us in ways we desperately need in times like these.
Looking for Solutions
The two primary technology needs that we are dealing with as Church right now are online giving and communication platforms. Those who embraced technology before 2020 are having the easiest transition. These parish and diocesan communities are utilizing avenues already secured in new and more profound ways: livestreaming Holy Hours, daily emails and social media posts, contributing funds for sick families, etc.
Those who are just now looking for technological solutions are having to do quite a bit of research in a very short period. Some decisions will be for short-term solutions. Other decisions will have lasting effects long after the pandemic is over. It is important to remember that at this time there are many touting their solutions as the golden egg you need to stay relevant in a crazy world, and you need to prudent about any decisions being made. Does the solution come from a reputable source? Was the solution already in existence, or has it been created quickly to take advantage of the times? Can those new solutions integrate with existing infrastructure?
The Compounded Problem with Data
Prior to this pandemic, many Church communities already suffered from insufficient data on their parishioners and the inability to use that data effectively. Now those issues are more problematic and causing communications and community-building headaches. How can you effectively communicate with ALL of your community when you do not have accurate data on everyone? What is the true effect of religious education families receiving one stream of communication and liturgical ministers another? During a time when most are craving a sense of community, are we fracturing that community further?
In the world before the health crisis, a person would be hurt if they were gravely ill and no one from their parish reached out to them. Imagine today having a parishioner with COVID-19 and not being able to communicate with their family due to insufficient data. How about if that data existed in a children’s ministry database and the pastor could not get it because that ministry leader has his or her own database and they are sick as well.
Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. Now might be the time to work on cleaning up old data and working on pulling together variant data streams. Good data is essential to effective communications and leadership in any community. How you house that data and the tools to effectively pull meaningful reports from it will make a huge difference in promoting a mission. It is about being proactive instead of reactive. Decisions can be made that will affect not just the present but positively affect the future.
A New Era in Church Technology
This pandemic is teaching the Church that we need to be more attentive to technology and how it can aide us in effectively being Church always, not just when the physical doors to our buildings are locked. How we organize and lead our parish and diocesan communities off our campuses is key to our Church in the modern world. Therefore, embracing technological solutions which allow us to do just that is a necessity.
LPi’s WeGather is a both a solution and multiple solutions at once. It is a database and community-building platform that serves as the one source of data for the entire community. It can house all types of data and has a powerful search engine and reporting capability so that you can access key data when you need and make informed decisions. With its many modules, it addresses different needs in a typical Church community: ministry scheduling, religious education registration, and online donations and pledging, to name a few. WeGather can replace the many non-integrated and outdated solutions a parish may be facing with one technology. It is robust and powerful, as well as highly customizable and scalable.
Now is the time to consider such a solution. I worked in a parish for 22 years and I am aware of the complexity of parish life, so I know that WeGather will not solve all your problems. However, I also know that to have a product such as this, and a company such as LPi, on your side will help you become a clearer reflection of God’s Kingdom. That is what we are all called to be.
To learn more about WeGather, visit www.4lpi.com/WeGather.