The following article is an inspirational story about a church using church software for incredible outreach, originally written for Church Executive June 2011 Issue:

When four-year-old The Community Fellowship Church in Collinsville, VA, began looking to implement a church management system for its growing congregation, the leaders knew that it was important not only to find a system that worked for the internal needs of the church, but also for outreach to its community where the unemployment rate is more than 20 percent.

The community was heavy in textile and furniture industries, but lost 90 percent of what was once there. One of the main features that Lead Pastor Michael Harrison promotes within his church is encouraging groups to connect with each other, as well as with other groups in the area.

One of our biggest outreach projects we offer our community is our ‘back2school’ event,” notes Harrison. “We were able to create a process so that leaders can connect with other groups in the community to provide backpacks, school supplies and haircuts.

We also wash the feet of every child and provide shoes through Samaritan’s Feet, giving us time to talk and get to know each and every child, find out what their circumstances are and how we can help. We use the process to check-in and register every child and keep track of all their information so that we can continue to help them throughout the year and see where they’re at,” Harrison says.

Another large project that’s on the verge of coming to fruition for the congregation is the Community Dream Center, a homeless shelter and discipleship/transition program for men. Harrison says there are 140 such centers worldwide, each unique to providing for the specific needs in the community.

The goal with the Community Dream Center is to fill a hole in our community’s services. There are a number of programs for women and children, but nothing that touches and works with underserved men who need help,” notes Harrison.

All of this is being coordinated and facilitated through the ChMS system of Church Community Builder (CCB).

Through CCB’s help, we are reaching and connecting with other such groups in the community to let them know that we will be offering a homeless shelter, life rehab, and coming in the future, a mobile food bank. We are able to connect and partner with groups that will be working with us, such as the Virginia Department of Economic Services as well as other churches and outreach groups in the area.”

Our main goal was to find a tool that would allow us to serve, track and help our community,” says Harrison. “Church Community Builder (CCB) seemed to meld traditional desktop-based ChMS features with Web 2.0 online features such as online access, social community, collaboration and discussion forms — everything that was needed to meet our goal of helping those in need and also track how the attendees in our congregation were growing.”

Social outreach is another area where CCB is helping Harrison and the church.

We are able to keep up on what is happening in the lives of our congregation so that our leaders can stay connected,” he says. “It also allows our attendees to partner with us by allowing them to update their personal information and tell us what they are good at so we may place their skill sets in the proper need areas of our church.”

Harrison says that building community is what God has asked his church to commit to and technology is helping them accomplish this dream.

This is the best way to communicate and minister effectively,” he adds. “Our church is now building community in new and exciting ways. We have a level of communication and accountability that we’ve never had before,” Harrison says.

Churches can use technology to create efficiencies and make it possible for ministry leaders and volunteers to stay focused on people in need, not administration.