Now that Web Empowered Church (WEC) has been underway for a couple of years, Mark Stephenson has come to the belief that it won’t reach its full potential without Church Management System (ChMS) functionality, or at least deep integration with an existing ChMS. I totally agree with that assessment. So Mark and I thought it would be a great time to get together with Rubin Perry to discuss how ChMS fits with WEC’s vision and strategy. Like my meetings with Fellowship Technologies and Shelby Systems, our conversation was detailed, candid, and thought-provoking. While I’m not free to disclose everything we discussed, I can say that WEC has deep pockets, a passion for helping local churches use the Internet effectively, and a long-term view.
I’ve noted previously that combining content management (CoMS) functionality with ChMS and Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) functionality in a single, integrated system would be ideal. Most forward-thinking church IT leaders I know agree with this. WEC is looking for churches and church IT leaders who will partner with them to build just such a system based on the LAMP stack and TYPO3. As I mentioned, another possibility would be to do a deep integration of a market-leading ChMS with TYPO3. We’re in the process of discerning whether it makes sense for Church of the Resurrection to be one of those partners.
WEC is fully committed to open source software. By that they mean basing the software on the LAMP stack, licensing the software they develop using the GPL, and employing open source development methodologies. The advantages of this include risk reduction, ease of integration, competitive diversity, and distributed innovation. Already WEC is being adopted by churches around the world that have the technical ability to make use of complex technology. Such churches appreciate the fact that open source means WEC doesn’t have the licensing cost barrier associated with commercial software.
For churches that lack technical skills, however, adoption is challenging. TYPO3 is more than powerful enough for even the largest churches, but it is quite complex, it is difficult to learn, and it suffers from poor usability in some areas. Accordingly, addressing these issues represent top priorities for WEC.
1. WEC is actively working with the TYPO3 Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) team to improve usability.
2. WEC is developing TYPO3 training videos.
3. WEC is working on improved processes for providing tech support.
So that’s a summary of how WEC fits into our ChMS analysis. I’m praying for clarity.