Dickinson First United Methodist in Dickinson, Texas, was founded in 1876 and has a rich history of ministry. Dickinson has used many administrative tools over the years, but one has made a significant impact and helped sustain them through various trials.
The church was using a combination of Servant Keeper as their church management software and QuickBooks for accounting. This combination worked well enough when the church was small, but the gaps in these systems became apparent as their congregation and staff grew.
As the church grew, they started to notice accuracy and integration issues. For example, amounts given by individuals were not matching where they were posted or credited between Quickbooks and Servantkeeper. These gaps and errors cost the church staff valuable time and money to manually enter, check, recheck, fix, and report properly. The church decided it was time to make a change.
Once the church decided to switch to a Ministry Brands platform, the onboarding began. A trainer arrived with the new database system and trained the administrators. Instead of simply training and leaving, the trainer stayed until the Dickinson administrators felt completely comfortable using the new system. Barbara Williams, Business Administrator, described the onboarding experience as “awesome,” with seamless integrations and an intuitive platform that is simple for anyone on staff to learn and use quickly.
Shortly after switching to the new platform, Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas. Dickinson First United Methodist, whose building is only 20 miles inland of the Gulf of Mexico, sustained water damage with 4 feet of standing water in the sanctuary. They lost all their paper documentation, including staff, administration, parishioner contact, financial information, and historical records. Ministry Brands worked hard to comb through the digital repository from the switchover from the old database to the new one and helped restore much of the church’s lost information. Rather than starting from scratch, Ministry Brands was able to recover and restore enough contact and financial information to get the church back up and running despite the hurricane’s damage.
The church faced another challenge as its senior pastor became ill and had to go on medical leave, and the pandemic hit, forcing everyone to go on lockdown. Once again, integrating efficient software into their ministry helped sustain them through this series of unexpected transitions.
Having a software system in place allowed the church to navigate difficult times in two specific ways. First, during the lockdown, ministry staff could call or reach out electronically to stay in touch with parishioners. With the senior pastor’s illness, the interim pastor could simply download the church’s app and look at pictures, read notes, and quickly get to know and minister to his new parishioners despite the distance of the pandemic. Once the church could be face-to-face, the new pastor could easily identify people he had not previously met in person. Having a database that provided information on the congregation he needed to serve propelled relationship-building and faster onboarding. It escalated effective ministry as the new pastor could access parishioner background and quickly identify and understand their needs.
Despite navigating challenging times, the software system has supported the church’s ministry. The church has been able to meaningfully track trends as it grows and see the fruit of its labors. Having reliable data and access to information has provided continuity, allowing ministry staff, leadership, and laity to circle the wagons in rough times, impact individual lives, and keep the ministry moving forward. Dickinson United reported the best financial intake in its history during early 2023 and watched both attendance and participation grow. Most importantly, people are excited to attend weekly services and special events.
Ministry Brands seeks to help empower healthy churches as they amplify their impact on their community. We’d love to connect to hear more about your church and to see if we can help.
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