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Six reasons my church uses the Jethro member database

In July last year, I wrote a series on ‘Search for the ideal church database’, exploring a range of web-based member database solutions. After much deliberation, the member database my church decided on is Jethro…

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Ben Hudson

    April 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks Steve,
    can I ask, which of those requirements doesn’t Jethro do? Does it do all the custom field stuff like child protection, baptisms, etc?

    cheers

  2. Darrell

    April 8, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for the update and info. May I ask, do you know of any commercial solutions that are within or close to the Aussie time zones? We are looking for a system for our church at GMT+8 and would also find US time too different from ours. I will definitely run Jethro on localhost to test-drive.

  3. Steve Gibbs

    April 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Steve,

    If I could reply to Darrell’s question:

    iChurch is an commercial Australian product (based in Sydney).

    It is 100% internet enabled (so you can use it anywhere in the world) but actually runs as a windows application. It also has a web portal so your members can manage their involvement within your church and a check-in system.

    Once installed, iChurch keeps itself up-to-date without any user intervention.

    Best Regards

    Steve Gibbs

  4. Darrell

    May 1, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Thanks Steve (Gibbs). Will look for it.

  5. Tom Barrett

    March 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Shameless plug: Jethro v1.2 released today – various new features – http://jethro-pmm.sourceforge.net

  6. Karen

    July 24, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Hi Steve. We have been out for 7 days without our database. Please connectvwoth Troy. Florida

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