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Newsletter #8
June, 16 2011

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Dear BVCMS Community,

This newsletter contains tips, information about new features, and announcments of upcoming events. See past newsletters.

User News & Announcements

Usually we highlight new features, and other information pertinent to all of our users in this section. Also, we usually have an Admin Corner section as well. This month we are going to do something a bit different and will return to our normal format next month. The major theme for this month will be what makes BVCMS different from other Church Management Systems. The biggest difference is the fact that BVCMS is Open Source. This is where we get the term "Free and Open" that you see up front on our Web Site.

Why do Big Companies Pay to Support Open Source Software?

I presented this topic at an important meeting in New York City last week. For BVCMS to be a success, it is important that churches are involved with the project not only as users of the system but as a contributors of their time, talent and resources. Such support does not have to be motivated by just wanting to help other churches out, but it makes very good business sense for a church to support and sponsor BVCMS.

In this article, I talk about the economic principles of compliments and substitutes and how these principles explain why it makes good business sense for a company to support the development of Open Source Software. An example of two complimentary products is gasoline and automobiles. When gas prices go up, the demand for new cars goes down. After examining this principle at work in the secular world related to Open Source Software projects, I segue to the question of "Why should Churches Sponsor Open Source Software?". Turns out the idea of compliments applies to the business of the church as well. BVCMS makes good business sense for churches as a substitute for more expensive/proprietary solutions and as a complimentary product to enhance the success of a church's product, communicating the gospel and changing lives. Read more

The Facelift Continues

I've never been to a plastic surgeon but I hear tell that sometimes you have to go back several times to finish the job. Well, our project to give BVCMS a new look is like that. It was a lot of work to do. Not because design work is so hard but because David just could not stand to let an opportunity to rewrite a page go by. There are a number of pages in the system that use some older technology called WebForms. It just does not make sense to put lipstick on a pig so before applying the redesign to the page, we rewrote it to update the insides too. Believe it or not that will make it easier going forward to keep improving the way the software works. There are still a few pages that have not been updated but we'll get to those as time permits.

By the way, don't want to miss an opportunity to mention Chris and Abby, using their time and talent to contribute to the system by working on the design theme for the new look. Read more about the changes here and here.

Use the New Support Email Address

Take a look under the Help Menu now! Notice that there is not only the link for the wiki documentation, but also a link to Email Support. Please click this link when you have questions or need support. This will send an email to the appropriate people, so that someone will respond as quickly as possible.

This quick link will help us in our goal to provide "fanatical support" to all the BVCMS customers. It may seem a bit impersonal but actually it will give you better service. Why? Have you ever emailed David? Most of the time he answers very quickly but if he is busy and getting a lot of emails, your email might get buried below the page fold. This is how things slip through the cracks! Honestly he is not ignoring you! So this is your answer. This is a great way to hold him accountable.

Find out how Bellevue used BVCMS to register over 4,000 at VBS

In the two months leading up to VBS, Bellevue used BVCMS to register 3,700 kids and workers. Not a single piece of paper was used and the back end was all automated and integrated into almost 150 organizations. Then on the first day of VBS, as expected, we had about 500 moms and their kids walk up needing to register last minute. Using 14 kiosks and about 30 volunteers, we used our touch screen check-in system in a special registration mode to register 280 kids in a little over an hour. Over half of those registering were brand new people records in our system. We figured we spent about 3 minutes and 30 seconds with each kid before we sent them on to there classroom with special labels.

Want to know the return on investment? 370 total decisions and 320 professions of faith in Christ!

Developer News

The Difference Between and BVCMS

In last month's Developer News section of the newsletter, we talked about the benefits of open source software. Those three major benefits we outlined were freedom, collaboration and ownership. Freedom gives control, collaboration gives community, and ownership comes from contribution of your own resources and ideas to benefit others.

This month, I'd like to explain the difference between and the Open Source project called BVCMS.

BVCMS, the Open Source project, is software that can be freely downloaded and used. The project is supported by volunteer software developers and churches who wish to see BVCMS grow and improve. All development comes through that process. It was Bellevue's choice to offer the source code to the public under an Open Source license agreement and not charge for it. That means that nobody can charge for it. People have commented before that if it is free it must not be any good. Not true, it just means that someone has already paid the price. is a privately owned company that runs a hosting and support organization for churches wishing to use BVCMS. Our company is a small company and we sell our services for a fee. Because does not (and cannot in fact) charge a license fee to use the software, using BVCMS is very affordable for even the smallest churches. Other companies may indeed decide to become involved in selling their services around the BVCMS Open Source project as the project grows and becomes more popular. Because our hosting/support fees are not enough to pay for the continued development of the software, we too are volunteers in the Open Source project. However, part of's services is to develop software features for churches wishing to see their ideas and needs for new features to be added to BVCMS.

David Carroll
BVCMS Developer

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