Part of our job as co-founders is to pray about, evaluate, and navigate our way forward as a company. Our initial calling and the Lord's leadership each step along the way are helpful indicators of the plans He has for us.
In the past month or so I've started thinking about the history of our company in three stages. Each one building on the previous one. Here is a short version of each of these.
My hope is that you not only get to know us better, but also that it might be useful for you to think about how God is leading you. As Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Here's how He has done that for us.
Stage One: Small Groups Software - Innovation
Our calling is to provide software to help churches make disciples and build teams. For us, the logical place to start was with the problems of decentralized small groups ministry. In this first stage we were an innovative, entrepreneurial company building software to do something no one had done before.
We were old school in our business approach. We bootstrapped everything. We worked on the software at night and on weekends, and only started getting paid when we had a solution churches were willing to pay for. These solutions included Groupfinder, Push out notifications to get meeting reports, coaching tools, Growthfinder Assessment, and our Groups Health Report.
Stage Two: Church Management Software - Alignment
As the Lord blessed our work, we knew that churches would be better served by having all their data in one place. We also were convinced that the most efficient way to organize and manage a church was through groups. Our underlying data architecture was uniquely structured to do this.
So, we began the arduous work of building out the features that define church management software. Not just placeholders, but best-of-class level solutions. First, for traditional features like membership and contributions. We already had attendance. Then for more entrepreneurial features like children's check-in, online giving, event registrations, and volunteer scheduling.
As online giving became mainstream private equity firms and venture captitalists became interested in acquiring and merging companies to solve the all in one data problem. We chose to remain focused on building out the features. One of my mentors always said, "keep a low profile, and produce." That's what we are doing.
Stage Three: Church Communication Software - Connection
Just as data is best supported by groups, so communication is best supported by data. It's one thing to have a powerful email editor or texting tool, but it's much more useful when you have the ability to filter and personalize communication based on things like engagement.
Even better is to use those communication tools as a channel for people to interact with the database. This adds functionality and credibility to the software making it essentially a two-way communication tool. This is why we prioritized email marketing, Text-to-Church, and our Member App over other development options.
For us, stage one was 2000 to 2008. Stage two was 2008-2016. Stage three started in 2016. Is there a stage four that will be built on the Groups > Data > Communication tools we've been building? There is.
We have some indicators about what is next, but are still in the pray and evaluate stage. Prayer molds our hearts which influences our thinking and plans. But, ultimately the Lord will determine the steps. Our steps, and yours too.