Unitarian Universalist minister and blogger Tom Schade reflects on his recent experience at a technological conference and suggests congregations use a CRM: an acronym with so many variant renderings that I created my own. And while I disagree with some of his suggestions, principly aboung changing our structures because it's complex and expensive, his first thought is sound; that is, we need something other than a binary member-nonmember frame, we need to identify stages of affiliation, and we need systems to support this.
Fortunately, we have structures in our heritage and in parallel organizations to concieve this, and I have written about it here.
- Full text of “Parish Practice in Universalist Churches” (Pages 121 ff., for how it was done a half-century ago. Easy to imagine in spreadsheet form. And I bet it's more that some churches do today.)
- Questioning the high-commitment church membership
- Three cheers for clear membership expectations
- Christian Century on membership
- Terms as the United Church of Canada defines them (Fun fact: the framers of the UUA consolidation looked to the United Church of Canada for background research.)
- Terms as the Uniting Church of Australia defines them
- Those United, Uniting polity statements
I thought I had written about the Universalist way of distinguishing members from affiliates but I'm not finding it if I have.
As for a CRM, a typical Unitarian Universalist congregation is likely to have dozens or low-hundreds of members or members in process, and hundreds of contacts. Perhaps low-thousands. But not tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of persons that make complex, commercial systems worth their cost and trouble. There are more useful, better-scaled options, and a very small congregation might use (or at least start with) an old-fashioned paper system.
I'll be examining this need in future weeks. As Jesus said: "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath." Too much tech makes the user its servant.