open source church

By May 31, 2010Church, Leadership

After writing a previous post about using sandboxes in church, I got to thinking about another topic that piques my interest: open source software.

For years, I have been a big fan of open source software.  In web development, the first content management system (CMS) I used was Mambo — an open source CMS that used PHP and MySQL.  When Mambo transformed into Joomla, I followed along.  The componenets, extensions, and modules were created by fellow Joomla users who made their work available free of charge.

Open source software is simply software where anyone can contribute to its development.  Many projects may feature a core team of developers who do much of the heavy lifting.  However, one of the great benefits of open source software comes through the community that is created around the software. With the best software, its often the community that surrounds the software that finds bugs, offers solutions, and thinks of new ways of extending the software.  Fellow users will troubleshoot problems for each other.  As I’ve built sites for clients in the past, I benefited from fellow users who lived in other states and across the pond.

How could your church be more open source?

  • Create a message development team that brainstorms, researches, and troubleshoots potential sermon series.
  • Regularly hold “user forums” where new ideas are bounced off of those who will be the end-users.  Listen for ways to improve and extend.
  • Recognize and value user contributions.  Not all great ideas must originate from paid staff; in fact, when I produce a good idea, my fellow teammates (paid or volunteer) often make it great.
  • Turn over part of your budget to volunteers.
  • Solicit feedback after the fact … after events, after sermons.  Experiment with help desk software where members and attenders can open support tickets and create dialogue.
  • And there are many more.  What do you think?

P.S. One of my favorite open source sites is SourceForge.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Your post caught my interest! I’ve actually been thinking about ways the church can be more open-source…but more than that…open-source between churches. There are already tons of churches putting their series graphics out there for other churches to use…but what else could churches openly share with each other to further increase the kingdom of God?

    I don’t know…it’s just been a thought I’ve been playing with for a while…I think I have a few ideas here and there…

  • kenhensley says:

    Jonathan,

    I love what LifeChurch.tv does with their open.lifechurch.tv site — making source files available for all their teaching series. Becoming a resourcing church is one of our goals here at Mountainview.

    That's a great question about what other open-source things churches could do … how about sharing staff, message preparation … there has to be more!

    Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.