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Tools for Entrepreneurial Churches: Macs, iPads, Apps and More

Meredith Mahon Morris July 30, 2012

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Here’s a story about how one of our clients, Faith Christian Center in Jacksonville, Fla., handles some of the technology demands of a modern ministry.

The Problem: A single-platform solution just won’t work for this dynamic ministry

The main campus of Faith Christian Center is located in Jacksonville, Fla., but it also operates 7 affiliate campuses all
over the southeast United States. Manch Kersee serves as the director of finance for the growing ministry, and he also serves as IT director.

One potential problem with running IT at Faith Christian Center: “Half our leadership has a Mac, but all of our desktops are IBM computers,” Manch said.

Many churches are still operating with a desktop, networked approach to computing – but that simply wouldn’t work for Faith Christian Center. Not with affiliate campuses spread across hundreds of miles and leadership coming in to work with their own Mac computers in hand.

The solution: A flexible approach that allows staff to use Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads … the list goes on!

“We’re a combined shop. And the thing you find with a lot of Mac shops is that they tend to be a little more entrepreneurial. Our bishop prefers a Mac, our directors and ministers own iPhones, and we have desktop PCs in use,” Manch said, “And all of it works with either ACS OnDemand or Access ACS.”

“With OnDemand, once you log in, it’s kind of transparent to us,” he said. He appreciates that the solutions his staff and
volunteers are accustomed to using work the same whether they log in on a Mac or on a PC.

More great tools for entrepreneurial churches from Manch Kersee

“More and more, we’re even implementing usingiPads,” Manch said. The church has set up iPads to work with its child check-in and check-out solution, ACS CheckPoint. “Those iPads are really convenient to help clear up a queue during check-in or check out — if people are waiting, we’ll just move down the line with the iPad.

“We’re also finding that people come to pick up their children, and they don’t necessarily want to come into the bookstore. But while they’re waiting to check out their child, we can catch them while they’re standing in line. We’ll have an individual with a smock and they’ll have today’s message, and they can take
the debit card and swipe it and make the sale right there.”

Apps are also really important for us. It’s convenience — all of our directors and ministers own an iPhone, and they use apps like ACS Church Life. They’ll use it to look up an address or to be able to check a schedule or reserve a room. There are so many times when they need to make a quick decision — say someone is asking for assistance. They’ll need to know if they’re a member and what kind of standing they’re in, because we have to make a decision for who to respond to first. They need to have those tools right at hand, so they have the information they need to make a judgment call.

“A lot of times our satellite pastors have Macs, so if we need to meet with them, we’ll just use iChat. We can meet using something like Cisco’s WebEx. You can have up to 3 or 4 individuals, and if we’re going over financials, I’ll just pull up financials on Access ACS or ACS OnDemand and I’ll share my screen with them so they can see what I’m talking about.

“On my Macbook Pro, I use a tool called Parallels. It gives you the option to be able to flip back and forth through a Mac and PC. So if there’s something I want to do that’s better for a PC, I’ll flip. For instance, in my experience, Excel on a PC is stronger than on a Mac, so if I’m doing something serious in Excel, I’ll hop over to the Parallel PC environment. But one thing to keep in mind, if you don’t build your machine up correctly, you could run into trouble. You’ll have to partition your memory, and you can max it out.

  • Keith Steiner

    These are all great tools. We have a mixed, Mac and PC, environment. The staff is using mobile devices more and more, and the addition of these apps helps us be more effective.

    Not only have we moved ACS “to the cloud”, but much else of our productivity has migrated as well. Server costs, IT support time and consulting fees, and network software fees are all greatly reduced, even after web subscriptions are paid – and some are free. I suspect that our transition is far from unique to other churches.

    Why not make more of your tools accessible in “the cloud” across web platforms. For example, Facility Schedule is tied exclusively to Windows operating systems and integrates only with Microsoft Outlook – Windows. Its such a great tool, why not open it up to Google Calendar and the like? In Google Calendar, all of our staff can “opt in” to see the church calendar. Now we have to depend on viewing the calendar in clunky PDF reports. We would rather not have to choose between a robust scheduler or staff accessibility. We certainly aren’t going back to being tied to our local network on one operating system.

  • Eleanor Pierce

    Hi Keith,

    Here’s some info about your questions from Daphne Wallace, the product owner for Facility Scheduler: As of February 2012, we released Facility Scheduler in OnDemand. So if you have OnDemand, you can run FS on a Mac. Additionally this year we have launched iPad and Android apps for our OnDemand Solutions allowing you to use FS on your tablets (through OD).

    If you are not OnDemand, then FS does require you to have MS Windows. However there are ways to run MS Windows on a Mac in order to use FS (for example there is a client on Get Sat that runs Windows XP in Parallels). Also you can use your iPad or Mac to remote into a box that has Windows / FS. These two are creative solutions and we cannot guarantee the performance of the product in these environments.

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