Please note: at Church by the Bridge, we are now using Elvanto.
After much deliberation, the member database my church decided on is Jethro.
Here's six reasons why we chose Jethro. None of these on their own sealed the deal, but together formed a compelling case for my church to use Jethro:
- Jethro is Australian. I've got nothing against solutions from overseas (there are some first-class solutions, particularly from the U.S.), but I really like the ability to easily receive support in my own timezone. I also liked the opportunity to support a local church who had generously developed the database and made it available for free.
- Jethro is open source (and free), but well-supported. I've been very impressed by the support provided by the developer, and set-up on our server wasn't a difficult tasks. For the record, the support provided by Ascribe and Church Community Builder in particular, was also excellent.
- Jethro is easy to use (and not just for tech-savvy people). Our staff team has a range of technical skill levels. Jethro is intuitive making it easy to use and easy to learn. I wrote a brief user guide for our staff, but I didn't want to (and couldn't afford to) invest in complex training or an on-going support package that is required or recommended by some other solutions.
- Jethro can do all the things we needed a database to do. I wrote a list of requirements, and with one minor exception, Jethro meets these requirements.
- Jethro has great tools for tracking attendance. One of our core requirements was to be able easily track attendance, and identify people to follow-up, who haven't been regularly attending. This is an important part of caring for the sheep entrusted to us. Jethro does this very well.
- Jethro doesn't do too much. Some databases had amazing functionality that went above and beyond our requirements. Powerful community tools, iPhone interfaces, child check-in systems, etc. These are great, but for various reasons specific to my church, these aren't necessary and would be features we would pay for but don't need. Jethro met our needs without providing more than we needed.
Two things I should make clear:
- It simply wasn't possibly to comprehensively review each of the 32 solutions – I'd like to do this and post the findings on Communicate Jesus in the future, but I don't have time at the moment 🙂 I narrowed down the list of options based on my church's requirements and the information provided on the websites of providers (including how accessible and intelligible this information was).
- I want to make clear that each church is different, and the needs of my church might not be the same as yours. Understanding your specific requirements is key. Jethro may not be the best solution for your church, but for my church's current and (anticipated) future needs, it will serve us well.