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April 25, 2005

Comments

Brian Glass

Brian,

Thanks for giving me your thoughts and advice. I respect your leadership and your comments mean a lot.

I agree with your sentiments nearly 100%. My chief question arises from this statement: "Some people are called to serve a local church, while others are called to serve the church." My answer to this question is between God and me. Nobody else can answer it.

The difficulty arises when you realize that the answer to this question impacts my local church. If I find that I am called to serve "the church" then in order for me to succeed Crossroads would have to support me in that decision. Crossroads would have to live with a development process that will span several years. Software of this magnitude cannot be developed without an environment for testing.

My secondary concern is, if everyone follows your statement that, "First and foremost, you have to meet the needs of your church, its members, and the community," then nobody will ever produce a community driven open source CMS because they'll all decide to use something like F1. If one is to exist then someone and some church must be willing to take the plunge.

I'm just struggling with whether or not that's me.

phil crissman

"A volunteer wrote this for us in Access...."

Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that.

Well, okay, I'd really only have about 15 or 20 cents, but still, those apps can be a headache to deal with; especially when you start trying to upgrade computers, and someone tells you they have a "mission critical" application coded with Access 97...

Jim

Brian,

I agree with your philosophy to not reinvent the wheel but rather, focus your energy on things that will benefit your ministry. I too have heard people at churches state that 'so and so did this for us in Access and we jump thru all of these hoops to make it work but there's nothing wrong with it.' Yeah, right. How much energy is given to making a cut rate solution work when the time and attention could be devoted elsewhere in the church.

The Fellowship application is far and above better than most, if not all church management software packages. I spent alot of time researching CMS for my church and Fellowship met our needs on every level.

I think for a smaller church/smaller budget, open source may be a good option, although I know Fellowship is used even in startup churches.

Oftentimes, you get what you pay for. Cost is a huge factor, as you refer to, but it comes down to deciding what is important to your church and where does it make the most sense to spend the money God has entrusted to your church. There's a good chance that my church will go with Fellowship at some point in the future, we would rather wait for the best solution than upgrade to something else that, in the end, is not much better than what we already use.

Jason Powell

I know of 3 open source CMS projects currently underway ... Brian's would make 4.
Check out http://www.webempoweredchurch.com/
Mark is a great guy with a great vision ... and probably has something most other open source projects lack ... funding!
He's looking for other churches to help in the development of WEC.

Art

"I think for a smaller church/smaller budget, open source may be a good option, although I know Fellowship is used even in startup churches."

We looked into F1. We are a small church of 50 that is trying to grow, and plan ahead for it. F1 is way, WAY too expensive - as are most CMS programs. An open source program would be great.

Kristofer

Hi, nice post. We are also thinking about what to do in our church. It´s not a CMS we´re looking for it´s a system for planning events in the church.

Douglas Hutchison

FellowshipOne is indeed an excellect product... that being said, I'm sorry it is not open source. They could really take the lead on this one. I understand their business model as an ASP, but the pricing is steep. If they would open the code and make it available, much of the money a church would throw at their business (which does not appear to be a non-profit!?!) could be re-focued back into ministry

James Johanik

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with F1's business model, the price they charge and especially the service/product they provide, which is excellent. That being said, F1 alone as a product is not a perfect solution for the Church of Jesus Christ. The real debate above points to a core problem in many churches today - justification in allocating tithed resources for an expensive solution that serves a critical role in the organization of the church body.

We have been all commissioned to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This commission is administered by and funded by us, believers in Christ with the hope that others, free of charge, will come to know the love of our Father through Christ in a personal way, all for the purpose of salvation. This commission depends on and relies on the local Church, established by Christ. We are given examples in the Book of Acts of the huge sacrifices the early church gave in order to organize and administer this collossal mission.

Similarly, our modern church desparately needs to organize the Body of Christ in the most cost efficient manner, and we need a living, breathing and evolving open source alternative to a full blown platinum ASP. Take your pick! Both would be excellent choices depending upon the expertise and available resources in a particular body.

I challenge F1 to take on this humble effort to lead the development of an open source alternative, not as a means of undermining their core business, but as a means of providing the Church a cost-efficient solution to further the Kingdom of our Lord.

Nancy Hendricks

It isn't open source, but it is affordable. Check out Ekklesia Systems a web-based CMS for churches.

http://www.ekklesia-systems.com

D. Goodmanson

I saw some links from here. I'm helping build Ekklesia Systems if anyone is interested in learning more, we are willing to share it with people who help contribute in building the system. We have a team of 7-8 people and growing, if you'd like to get involved in it...

Steve McAtee

Brian,

There are several open source CMS programs out there. All of great quality. I represent ChurchLedger.com. A full fledged solution. There are more to be found at SourceForge.net.

Please email me if you have any questions.

Steve McAtee

Hello Brian,

You are making an incorrect assumption: Open Source = Write your own code. I think you are also assuming that Open Source = No Support. Many people that go Open Source are going the "Free" route. If you are "free" then yes, you probably have no support. In my opinion you are a bit uninformed on Open Source and what can be offered to the global and local church.

There are many Open Source Solutions available for Church Management (ChMS) that do not require further development. I represent just one of those solutions. And there are many that provide support for a modest fee.

I think many of y'all that represent the proprietary systems are going to have a hard go at it to stay non-open source over the long haul.

I would be interested in a blog if everyone feels this is worth a deep long discussion.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss.

God Bless.

mrben

I agree with Steve - I think you have misunderstood the nature of open source software.

Lets try and break down some hypothetical examples, to try and explain why I think open source is, in fact, better in these situations.

1. You buy some proprietary software, but the company that makes it goes under. You are now left not only with 0 support, but in all likelihood no way of getting any additional support, as you have no access to the code.

2. You purchase some open source software, but the company that makes it goes under. Because you have access to the code, there is always the potential that another company will be able to take up support of that code. Or you could take it up internally. Better still, there may be an existing community based around that software that will continue to develop the software under an open source model. (ref Blender)

If you write software in-house, it doesn't necessarily make it 'open source', and thus you don't necessarily have the benefit of an open source community. In the Access case you mention above, this was not 'open source' software, it was merely proprietary software that you happened to own the code of. If the 'product' had been properly open sourced, then, assuming that there were others using and developing the software, there would still be an available community for support and development.

If you get open source software externally, then get software that has an existing community around it. A good open source community will keep a piece of software up-to-date and support it for far longer than many pieces of proprietary software, particularly in a niche market such as this.

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