When researching technology partners for your ministry there are many different variables. What I’m going to talk about today are the five most important things you should consider when evaluating potential technology partners. If the technology partner you are considering values these five things, you can rest assured that everything else will fall into place. It’s also important that the design looks nice and the user experience isn’t clunky.

But if these five things are executed well, you can be confident the design and user experience will be of quality too. What I want to stress is that it’s more important to understand why the company does what it does and how it does it, rather than whether or not they have a nice website with good sales.

1) Updated Offerings

How often your technology partner is updating their system is very important to you because often times there is a learning curve with new technologies. You’ll want to make sure that the technology you are encountering is going to be a productive use of your time and resources for years and years to come.

If it’s not up-to-date you will be wasting your time.

Let’s look at the most recent trend in websites. For example, there are a lot of companies that are still selling out-of-date, non-responsive website technologies at the same price they were selling them when they launched years ago.

The problem with this is if your website is not responsive it is very likely that people will not respond to what it is that you’re publishing. That happens for a couple of reasons but primarily because they won’t be able to effectively consume your content, information and events on their devices, most likely their smartphones!

In addition to not being responsive, Google has recently stated that if your website is not responsive your search results are going to be drastically impacted in a negative way. With all of that being said, do you think it’s fair for companies to sell that obsolete product for the same price?

You’ll want to make sure that the technology partner you are considering has updated the information or resource that they are selling you within the last couple of months. Technology changes so quickly and advances so fast that if you purchase a piece of technology that has not been altered or updated in recent history it’s most likely already out-of-date. This can negatively impact your ability to effectively accomplish what you want to accomplish with this tool.

At Ministry Designs, we have an update cycle of our technology once per week for minor updates, once per month for intermediate updates and every six months for major updates. Make sure the partner you are considering has a schedule for updating their tools and that they have the ability to give you the schedule at your request.

2) Positive Product Reviews

Everyone can publish testimonials on their website. But what is actually going on with the company? I would strongly recommend digging into their social media accounts. If the company does not have any current reviews or updated information about how they are serving the church body as a whole, I would steer clear of that company.

Often times if people have a bad experience they may or may not want to share that publicly. But if someone has had a good experience and the company is conscious about growth, they will be intentional about making sure the good information about their company has been published. What does that mean for you? It means that if there are quality reviews in recent months, the company is conscious and intentional about growing their company. That also means they are going to work hard to serve you as an organization.

I’d also like to mention that you shouldn’t take anything for face value. In the world of the internet, reputation management, i.e. staging a fake persona, is a very real and ongoing thing. In fact, companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure they have a “nice face” for the internet. A few helpful church software review sites are Capterra and Software Advice.

3) Genuine Motives to Serve the Church

Why do the companies you’re evaluating do what they do? From my perspective, being a technology company that serves the church, the single most important reason to do what we do is to help churches reach more people for Jesus.

The Great Commission calls us to go and tell, and people are on the internet. And so it is my responsibility as the owner of a technology company to help churches reach people where they are. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with trying to make a living.

However what I am saying is, if the sole purpose of the company is to generate revenue for profits and they’re not considering the fact that they are a company catered to serving the church, then that’s probably not a technology partner you’d want to consider for your church.

In fact, in our industry, there is a lot of that going on right now. At one point, in the not too recent past, there were multiple companies providing quality church websites similar to what we’re doing here at Ministry Designs. But that has all changed. I want to strongly urge you as a potential consumer of technology for your ministry, to please do your research on the company you are selecting.

Not all companies that sell products to churches understand what it takes to effectively support the ministry.

4) Plans for Growth

What are the plans for growth in the company you are considering partnering with? The reason this is an important question to ask is you should understand how much value they are placing on the product you are currently reviewing to support your ministry.

For example, not long ago Ministry Designs was considering branching out and becoming more than a high-quality resource for church websites. We had plans to grow and expand into other areas of service that quite frankly we didn’t have any business expanding into.

If I’m going to be 100% transparent with you, looking at it in hindsight, that was just immaturity on my part. The Lord has blessed Ministry Designs with the responsibility of serving the church in a space that we know very well, websites. It was irresponsible of me to consider expanding outside of what we know best.

After some wise counsel from a friend and mentor, Tony Ferraro, we have been able to devote and commit all of our resources to serving the church with the highest possible quality drag-and-drop content management system available on the market today.

I tell you this because it is important to consider where the attention of the company is when reviewing their products. If their flagship product is no longer their priority, it’s likely that the quality over the long-term will suffer.

5) Support & Training are a Priority

Here is the reality about almost every piece of technology. It’s going to require a bit of training and most likely a significant amount of support until your church gets up and running. If the technology partner you are considering is not committed to serving you well, making sure you succeed over the long-term after your purchase, you will know that by how their support and training is structured.

I have often seen companies sell solutions for thousands of dollars and a substantial monthly subscription fee and then not offer any sort of onboard training or long-term support. Often times this is not considered during the purchasing phase of your technology search. But I cannot stress enough the importance of considering this before making a commitment.

I have seen far too many ministries become frustrated with solutions that they purchased, and then not have been supported well along the way. It is my opinion, that in an industry dedicated to serving the church that commitment should be lived out through the way we support the churches that we partner with. I realize that that can be lived out in many different ways, but one way I know that it should not be lived out is by selling a product and then never answering the phone again. Make sure you’re doing your homework!

In closing I have to say, it is a privilege to serve the local body with our technology every single day. My heart breaks when I encounter churches that have been taken advantage of, have been poorly supported or stuck with a technology situation they don’t know how to recover from.

These issues could be avoided with a little homework up front. Make sure you are really digging into the company you are choosing to help you more effectively reach people for Jesus, communicate your mission, stay organized, process your online giving or whatever your need may be.