Get It Together

A pastor stopped at our booth in the exhibit hall of a church convention this past summer and was studying the display that listed all that CDM+ does. After a few moments I asked him if I could answer any questions and he said, “I’m tired of having multiple software programs to manage our church information needs. We have one program for our membership records, another for children’s ministry, and another one for accounting. We just started online giving and want to offer text-giving, yet our bookkeeper is frustrated with how much time it takes to reconcile reports and enter data into our CMS – even though it says we can 'import' the data. We’re also thinking about getting a church app to publish an online directory, but that is yet another database of the same records we now keep in four other programs. Your banner says you do all of these. Are all of these things you do actually in one program?”

The short answer was yes, but I spent the next 45 minutes showing him how CDM+ does solve his major frustration. Six years ago a young administrative pastor attended our annual users conference. He had been recently hired at a church that was a longtime user of CDM+. At the time, they were using our Membership, Contributions and Accounting programs. The church was quickly growing and they needed to invest in a check-in, check-out program for their children’s ministry. The pastoral staff needed to have access to their members’ records and make pastoral notes in real time while visiting members and prospective members. The church was holding a lot of events and needed a way for people to easily register online. They were about to add a second campus, so he was looking for software to help manage the facilities.

When he was hired, what he heard about CDM+ was it was too cumbersome and no one knew how to use it. Only a few people in the church had access to it. He came to our conference certain he would go back with the knowledge that CDM+ could not do what they needed. Instead, he returned convinced CDM+ could do not only what they needed, but the software would continue to grow and be enhanced to keep up with the growing demands of a dynamic church. Today, he is the Senior Executive Pastor of that church and is ensuring a growing staff is trained on how to use CDM+ to carry out their mission.

CDM+ was created in 1986 when most churches were maintaining members’ contact information on Rolodex cards and three-across labels. Clerks kept a membership roll book of everyone who joined the church. Annual denominational reports took weeks to compile. Offering deposit reports were handwritten and given to a bookkeeper for manual entry in ledger books. In a similar manner, the financial secretary would update givers’ records so statements could be mailed out at the end of the year. Financial reports were hand-tabulated and typewritten. Spreadsheets and word processors were beginning to make this work a little easier, but access to information on members and visitors was cumbersome at best. Ministry was stifled when things fell through the cracks.

Over the past 33 years, technology has revolutionized how we communicate and keep track of important information. Desktop computers, the internet, and mobile devices have become faster, more powerful, and readily available. Technology can help us keep connected and be a tool to help the church fulfill its mission.

However, despite all the technology literally at their fingertips, most churches operate with disjointed information systems. This results in extra work, extra expense, and data being stored in multiple places.

A fragmented information system creates a security risk. A church, like any other organization, must protect its data from hackers and unauthorized access. Yet, most of the information that a church manages is not just for the few that sit in the office. Volunteers, deployed staff, members and key leaders can greatly benefit from an integrated information system where when one record is updated all of those in ministry benefit from it.

CDM+ employs solutions that use the strength and power of all our computing options: desktop, web, and mobile interfaces. At its core is a central database that is powerful, robust, and secure. Heavy lifting of data entry and reports is done through its desktop program. Web based programs interact with the same database to provide online giving, online membership directories, and online registrations. Native mobile applications give church staff and key leaders dynamic access to member records for recording pastoral visitations, attendance tracking, SMS messaging, mass emailing, check-in and check-out capabilities, updating of member records whenever and wherever they may be.

The CDM+ built-in accounting program pulls information from many sources creating an accountable, seamless integration of financial information with less work. Its online giving solution not only records donations directly to giving records, but also reconciles the deposits of monies to multiple income and fee accounts. Keeping up with online transactions is easy and secure. When using the CDM+ data hosting service, access to the church records is available all the time from anywhere. Because your data is hosted offsite, there is no need to worry if the church’s computer network is destroyed by a natural disaster, theft or unauthorized use.

CDM+ has benefited from our staff listening to thousands of users who have voiced what they need to do their job and make the church successful. It has benefited from over three decades of use while the hardware and network capabilities have grown and matured. It has undergone three major upgrades that allows it to use the best of what technology offers. It has a team of developers, support personnel, salespersons, and management that is committed to being servants of the church.

In the past decade, we have seen our competitors bought out by investment firms and their software dropped and no longer supported. We have seen many web-based church programs come on the market, but none that can do all of the things that CDM+ offers. The challenges of web interfacing database programs are numerous and cumbersome.

At its birth 33 years ago, “CDM+” stood for Church Data Master Plus. Today, those letters stand for Cloud, Desktop and Mobile computing that truly brings all of the information needs of the church together in ONE system.