annual conference ministry united methodist church

Church Management Software for the Annual Conference

At Resurrection we have officially kicked off the transition for the next generation church management software for us – Arena. A cutover date to the new system is scheduled in mid May. Ian Beyer, network administrator at Resurrection, shared a great idea with me related to this transition.

What if Arena were implemented at the conference level?

Some potential positive outcomes of this becoming a reality…

  • Would ease transitions for pastors in and out of appointments
  • Filling out year end reports would disappear as it would dynamically be collected
  • Data on clergy would aid in appointment making
  • Effectiveness of Arena available for all churches regardless of size

What do you think? Would shared church management software for all congregations of the annual conference increase effectiveness? What would be the starting point for implementation?

Thanks again to Ian for sharing this idea!

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

5 replies on “Church Management Software for the Annual Conference”

Andrew, I have been part of the conversation about creating a new conference in Indiana (language they chose instead of ‘merging’ the two existing conferences). One of the areas they looked at was technology. Some of the questions that were raised in regard to conference-wide technology had to do with churches, especially rural, that do not have computers. In fact, my husband served as a student pastor in an urban church that did not have a computer. For those churches that already have and use computers, I think stream-lining software could be a good thing. The challenge comes in how to get churches all on the same technological page to begin with (Mac/PC, Windows 98/Vista/XP, and even more basic, computer/typewriter).


The idea of using the managed/hosted services model at the conference level has been bouncing around my head since I started working in church IT – It seems logical to take what is a fairly successful model for small businesses (as well as franchise systems) and apply that leverage, economy of scale, and purchasing power to the Church.

The question is how do we pull it off?

1. In a small rural church, the person behind the computer may not be the pastor — but a lay person.
2. Anything better than pdf files that aren’t intended to be saved would be a tremendous improvement! Have you looked at the CD for membership records? The way it is “designed” you would be retyping an entire page when one person on the page died or transferred out of the church.
3. For small churches, Internet access may also be an issue. Our parsonage has access, but not our church.

Actually its out there already – a Conference Management system – I believe Kansas West uses it, and Maybe Kansas East – Its called brick river. I think. Online data collection, website integration, online apportionment payment, etc – its pretty much all there.


Heather – Thanks for sharing your experience in Indiana. I like the language of creating a new conference. That is good language and a great improvement over merging. I had not thought about churches that do not have computers, but of course you are right – that is definitely an issue.

Ian – Great question, my friend. I think one church at a time.

mphilbrick – I think that regardless of whether the person would be the pastor or a lay person it would be possible. Great point about the PDF files – there has got to be a better way than that. Along with the comment from Heather – I had not thought about not having internet access available.

Chuck – Thanks for pointing that ought. I have checked out their site a bit, and you are right I know that West uses it and I think that East may as well. Those things are additional items about which I had not considered in making this proposal, but also quite valuable.

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