Churches: stay “on premise” or go cloud?

Use the cloud, except when you can’t!

Hi, everybody. I hope you’re doing well on your digital transformation journey with your church, your missions, organization or your nonprofit. One question that does come up somewhat regularly is the question of “should I buy a server or things and keep everything on premise at my office and try to access into my office, through VPNs, and things like that, or should I fully embrace the cloud and software as a service and things like that?”

I think fully because of the way that donations are working at this point, and the power available, and the scale that’s available through the cloud, that you should wholly embrace software as a service. And most people are going to either embrace Google or Microsoft 365, one or the other as their platform. That’s the easy choice, the tougher choice comes when it comes to things like finance, when it comes to doing things like video and media type of work. Some of those things can be very challenging to shift off into the cloud. You have some options when you do that, but those are things that just be aware that they can hold you back.

For the most part, though, if you can embrace cloud type stuff, it tends to be better, and you can automate a lot of it. So for example, let’s say you’re using Zapier, which is an automation platform, which costs a few dollars a month. And let’s say you’re using a church management system, you get a new member, the new member, when when that new member is added, maybe you get a Bonjoro, that gets linked to it. So now one of your pastors realizes they can do a quick video to welcome that new person. These are the kinds of things that you that are capable of doing in the cloud that you’re not really capable of doing nearly as easily on premise.

So in order to really make those digital… big digital transformations… cloud and software as a service is going to be the key ways you want to do that. And typically, it’s actually a lot cheaper to support. I always like to tell people, “look, we support, you know, churches, we support missions, agencies, nonprofits, even some businesses; it’s always so much cheaper to support businesses and organizations that fully embrace the cloud, than it is ones that have a lot of stuff on premise… because there’s so many things that can go wrong,” there’s… you have to build out a lot more infrastructure for that to deal with it.

So ultimately, bang for your buck, it’s always going to end up being better to go cloud, at least kind of at the small to medium size scale, maybe when you get really, really big into like an enterprise size, that might make sense to start kind of building your own infrastructure internally. And you may get economies of scale, because you’re big enough for that. But for most of us, it’s just kind of outside of our reality of doing and we’re going to get a lot better economies, just… just by utilizing the cloud and, you know, software as a service things.

Alright, hope that gives you a good primer on whether you should stick to on premise or if you should get into the cloud. At some point when we may get into a little bit more into the specifics because I know a lot of people are going to be wondering about media departments in particular. But if this has been helpful, go ahead and leave us a like or follow us. If you have any questions. If you have any comments, go ahead and leave those below and we’ll get to them. Alright, have a great week.

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Isaac Johnson

Isaac has been in professional ministry since 2002, holds an M.Div. from Moody, and his goal is to equip churches to reach digital natives.

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