You could go crazy thinking of how unprivate our lives really are – the omnipresent security cameras, the tracking data on our very smart phones, the porous state of our Internet selves, the trail of electronic crumbs we leave every day. Susan Orlean link
The end at the beginning: Do not sign any membership agreement that allows them to track your attendance, your expected donations and your participation in church activities. If you do, be prepared to be disciplined. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Now back to the beginning. I received the following communication from a long time reader. I smiled when I read it because I realized our blogging community has had a positive influence on how she analyzes Christian rhetoric.
I've read your blog for a few years now and found it really helpful. Thanks so much for what you do. My church sent me a login link to this site last week: https://churchapp.co.uk ( ed.-aka ChurchApp)
It was out of the blue and although of course I'd consented to have my details in a paper member's address book, I had not consented to this. Apparently we are moving that address book to here.
Looking around the site I am quite perturbed at what you can do with it, contacting children without their parent's knowledge? Recording member's attendance! etc.
I find the language quite concerning, 'monitor church health' 'manage adult contacts' etc.
Was wondering what your opinion would be on this, am I going crazy or is this a total privacy violation and showing a worrying controlling attitude to members?
Members of SBC churches are a bunch of ignorant losers.
Last year, we wrote Start Taking Attendance at Church and Make Those Disobedient Members Show Up! featuring some thoughts by Thom Rainer As everyone knows, the SBC has seen a decline in membership and in baptisms. The Deebs have long contended that there are numerous factors that have influenced this decline not the least of which is the Conservative Resurgence within the SBC. This combined with "hit you over the head" Neo-Calvinism, strict gender roles, a hard line view on young earth creationism, and the rise of the celebrity pastor class in a neat package. Add onto this the never ending focus on gay marriage while conveniently overlooking the divorce statistics in the SBC, bizarre and harsh church discipline (see The Village Church, Capital Hill Baptist Church, etc.).
However, Thom Rainer believes that the real problem with declining membership in the SBC is YOU!
A major decline in conversions leads to a new focus on blaming church members for a decline in attendance at churches.
Interestingly, on 10/4/13, Rainer wrote Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance link. In it, he offers 5 solutions to declining church attendance which he claims have been of help in hundreds of churches which he did not identify. Darn…. it would have been helpful to know which ones to avoid. Focus particularly on #5.
- Raise the expectations of membership.
- Require an entry class for membership.
- Encourage ministry involvement.
- Offer more options for worship times.
- Monitor attendance of each member.
In that post we quoted Kevin DeYoung who is also deeply concerned about your reasons for skipping church.
The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.
Profit based businesses get it and offer tracking software
This past June we wrote Membership Covenant Abuse: A Rebuttal to Leadership Journal Post on Church Discipline In the post, we introduced you to facial recognition software which will be used to *prove* to your leaders that you were not in church.
And now, here is a new product for church leaders who want to track whether their members are attending enough meetings. Introducing Churchix. No more pretending you were in church since you can easily hide in a church with 6,000 members and 5 weekend services. What a tool to increase the number of people that a church can now *lovingly* discipline!
Churchix is a face recognition event attendance desktop application. Churchix identifies event attending members in videos and photos. All you need to do is enroll high quality photos of your members into the software data base, then connect a live video USB camera or upload recorded videos or photos – and Churchix will identify your members!
Churchix is designed for Church administrators and event managers who want to save
the pain of manually tracking their members attendance to their events.
First of its kind, Churchix provides you with accurate data on members attendance in your events and services.
Introducing another gospel™ way for *them* to keep track of you.
In business school I learned that,when companies smell a way to make a quick buck on a new product, they will circle the flame like moths. What usually happens is the first few companies make lots of long green. As more enter the business, profits begin to fall and latecomers lose their shirts while early entries see their profits stagnate and eventually fall.
Within a couple of years, I believe that people will rebel at being tracked as well as become incensed that money is being used to keep track of members instead of caring about missions, etc.
Welcome to CHURCH APP.
Here are some of the things this company can do for your controlling church leadership.
1. From the home page: keeping the pastor in control!:
ChurchApp allows unlimited users to manage unlimited amounts of data, from anywhere. Putting you back in control.
Know who's serving where
Small groups: Visualize groups and members, track group attendance, monitor church health.
2. From the reports button of attendance tracking page (at top of page) they know when and where you are!:
If you have organised your church into various sub-groups, then you will love this report. ChurchApp's Attendance Averages report enables you to track attendance and see statistics for each contact group you have created.
If you record your weekly attendance on a person-by-person basis, it's likely you'd like to see that in one clean and simple view. ChurchApp's Attendance Summary report show the last 4-12 weeks of attendance for all your contacts.
Each report is customisable, allowing you to query tags, dates and the locations of members in your church attendance database.
3. From the features button of attendance tracking-Its all about growth (at tope of page):
Create categories and groups for every area of Church life you need to track. Customise the database management system to gather the information you want — without limits!
ChurchApp allows you to get a clear picture of your church's growth, so you know where and how to invest.
4. From the online giving page: your giving profile:
The Giving module links in to your ChurchApp address book to help build a giving profile for each giver. You can even build a giver profile if they're not in the main Address Book –
5. Go after those who are not giving:
Do you want to increase the amount of givers who've signed a gift aid declaration? The declarations missing report shows you all givers who don't have an active gift aid declaration.
6. Further help to know who is giving what:
It generates a list of givers, showing the total of all their donations within the time-period chosen.
6. And guess what? You can even choose your own color for the *Donate Button.* Wowza!
These applications will lead to more frequent church discipline.
I learned an important lesson in business school. Companies provide goods and services because they detect changing wants and needs. I do not blame the companies who provide these services. They are there to make money and they know that their services are being demanded by controlling churches.
I predict that these applications will be used to go after members who do not toe the line. They will know where you are and where you are not. This will apply to church attendance and small group attendance. They will know how much you are volunteering. They will watch your giving and will question any sort of perceived lack of giving.
We sincerely believe that these programs will be used to discipline members. Your mega church leaders will be able to know where you are and are not, even in a church with 12,000 members. They will have proof that you didn't show up to your last small group meeting, that you are not giving enough to build the next coffee bar and that you are skipping as much church on Sundays as your rarely there celebrity pastor.
If you do not wished to be tracked:
They need permission to track you. Be careful when you sign any membership forms. It is highly likely that there will be a release for the church to track you in those papers. If they track you without your permission, ask to have your name removed from the list. This may mean resigning from membership. You must request this in writing and send it by certified mail for proof.
If they refuse to remove you from membership, they are in violation of the law in the United States which permits you to resign from a voluntary organization.
Let's end with the beginning. This is very important.
Do not sign any membership agreement that allows them to track your attendance, your expected donations and your participation in church activities. If you do, be prepared to be disciplined. Don't say we didn't warn you.