"The management level of enterprises in society has been upgraded several times, while the church is still managed in the most primitive way." Speaking of the original intention of the ministry, Brother M, who is in charge of a Christian information-based system ministry, sounded a little helpless. Brother M and his family are all Christians. He studied information technology-related majors at the university. After receiving his degree, he was astounded by the church's inefficient management style and made a commitment to help it using an information-based system.
The systems of the church in China can be roughly divided into management systems and pastoral systems (see the first episode "Exploration of Virtual Ministry in the Internet Era"). Management systems can be subdivided into internal church office management system and believer management system.
According to M, the obvious advantage of using the information management system is to improve work efficiency. There are many repetitive tasks in the church that are trivial and time-consuming. Therefore, modern technology can be used to simplify work and save time.
For example, a typical problem is reimbursement. Brother M mentioned that some people who have financial approval rights in the church may be part-time volunteers who have other jobs and are not always in the church. In the absence of an information management system, the people in the financial department need to get financial approval and the approver should make an appointment with each other. If something unexpected happens, another appointment is needed. Through an information-based system, one could just sign and click submit, and then the job was done. There are many similar problems, such as church records management, staff scheduling, information notification, etc.
The information management system will also help improve the church's management system, Brother M added. For the church that is weak in management, the information management system can promote the perfection of the church system. Brother M explained that when the church uses the system, it is also learning an administrative system and a management concept, and its management level will naturally improve accordingly. Then it will gradually explore a set of its own management systems.
In addition, information management can solve some difficult problems for the church. On this point, Brother M gave a specific explanation by taking visiting as an example. He learned from the churches he visited that some of his fellow visitors were having trouble serving. The church does not have a clear visiting system, so the believers need to call the volunteers of the visiting group directly, and the volunteers are even on call 24 hours a day. If one is having dinner or the time is late, if he or she goes to visit, his or her family may feel worried or even mad. If they do not go, the volunteers may feel that they have lost God's trust and feel uneasy. Moreover, the pastors of the church also teach that the more you work, the more you will be blessed.
Brother M believes that the cause of this dilemma lies in the imperfect visitation system of the church. If the visit demand is distributed through the information-based system, the system will automatically postpone the distribution to the next day if the demand is later than a specific time, and there will be no need to visit while it’s too late. Good institutions are themselves what theologian Paul Tillich calls "an effort to connect the forces of goodness."
In his years of service, Brother M inevitably felt frustrated. In his words, many grassroots churches are still in the stage of not understanding the benefits of information management, and the pastoral vision and the talent reserve of the church are extremely insufficient, but he is still full of hope for the future of the church. The church where he kept going while he grew up, which is the one that prompted him to start his ministry, now uses most of his systems.
Brother M's goal is to build a comprehensive information-based system for the church. Although few churches currently have access to such a system and his ministry has not reached such a level due to technical and financial constraints, he has been working on it.
- Translated by Nicolas Cao