Summer is well on its way and I hope you have or planned some downtime. Our summer plans include some downtime but lots of prep work to help churches do more with our system.
We are working hard to be ready for your next major event be it Christmas, Easter or your next big weekend service.
For quite a while now, we’ve been busy building our Church Community Builder (CCB) and Planning Center (PCO) app integrations. Many of our church partners are now utilizing these integrations to save time and reach more people for Christ. However, that meant, we could not spend more time on our core app. That has changed.
Thinking of PastorsLine as a vintage restoration car project, our big summer push is to get under the hood first and make sure the engine is purring before concentrating on the paint job and the aesthetics. That is, focus on the critical things, so that your church can move forward with our vehicle.
For the last 6 weeks, we have been focusing on our architecture before adding anything else. Specifically, we are optimizing our code and how they work with our servers. Over the last year and a half, our clients have grown from a few dozens to a few hundreds of churches. We were able to make patches along the way, but our servers crashed during bigger campaigns. Totally unacceptable. So, we decided to stop and dig deeper into our stack to recode and revamp our systems to be able to scale when needed.
Our under-the-hood work includes things like the types and number of servers we use; the way we scale; and how we can segment our operations over different servers for peak efficiency and uptime.
So, to all of you who are waiting enthusiastically for more additions and integrations, please bear with us.
You are in great hands though. The interface may not be pretty yet, but the small and mega churches who love what we offer do appreciate the power of what we can do and anticipate a future where it all comes together. What you are getting is a reliable, powerful system that focuses on solving the unique challenges you face.
As we are wrapping up the core stack architecture changes, here are our plans for summer and beyond.
Hopefully, towards the end of summer, we’ll be rolling out Version 1 of our MailChimp integration. We have good feedback from you and are looking at a summer release. As one of the only church-focused text apps that offers both CCB and PCO 2-way integrations and is now planning to offer a third, we wanted to make sure that things are working and that they are scalable.
Part of the preparation is getting two features into place which actually turns out to be a bonus for you. One is a combined view for the same number across multiple apps. This is not about duplicates which are the same numbers on the same app. You will be able to have this combined view or not—we don’t want to take the liberty of merging your data without your say so. As of this writing, the core of this is already available to you but may not be obvious until you add a 2nd application.
The other is smart syncing. In response to one of the biggest feedback we’ve been getting, we want to give you more control over when a new profile gets created or updated. Mapping a contact onto an external application revolves around the phone number. If the numbers match up when the data comes in, great. But what if they don’t? Or what if there isn’t a phone number? Smart Syncing means trying our best to sync only when the probability is almost a surety. Otherwise, we hold, to give you the ability to go in and check that things are being matched correctly. This is next on our list.
Back to MailChimp...The primary focus for the Phase 1 MailChimp integration is
- automated message sequences—sending automated emails along with texts. You can reuse your templates if you like to save time and let MC do what they do best: emails.
- text to join—adding people to your lists via a keyword: the person texts a keyword to your PastorsLine # and our system captures their name and email which then gets added to a MailChimp list/group).
If possible, we’d like Phase 1 to be a complete sync—where you can pull and push all data between both your PastorsLine and MailChimp accounts. However, this is likely to come later.
If you want early access to our MailChimp beta testing, subscribe below.
Mobile App …
Designs are in process. We’re looking at ways to release a minimal version and keep adding. This will give a more native feel (for you) and easier maintenance (for us).
As we see it, mobile devices are all about communication. Desktops are not out. It’s an AND (not an OR) strategy. Our focus for the initial version is communication—everything you can do from the desktop Inbox. Later, we’ll add campaigns and other settings, polls, etc. Our ultimate goal = do it all on the mobile.
Last but not least, we’re developing a bonus quick fix from your feedback: Timeline Inbox View.
Currently, the Inbox view = a typical messaging platform—good when communicating with a few people. What about when it’s a whole lot? For example, during Q&A, when you don’t want to see each reply but just a timeline of what is coming in? So, in short, the Inbox will get a revamp: the right-hand side will be going, the middle will be getting smaller and the left-hand side will be the main focus.
Did you notice that quite a few of our summer plans were based on users’ feedback? We believe in our users getting what you need to make your life easier...so keep your comments coming!
Looking forward to any thoughts you might have. You can leave a comment below or send us a chat message using the chat bubble.