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When Bill Davis proposed giving his church a computer, everyone was ecstatic. The trustees, the financial secretary, the treasurer, the Sunday school superintendent, and the office secretary-not to mention the pastor-looked forward to entering the computer age. The computer would help them save time and energy, and make their ministries more effective.

A few months later, the computer sits to one side in the church office, largely unused.

This story, though hypothetical, fairly represents many situations I've seen as a consultant offering computer services to churches and other nonprofit organizations. In their eagerness to become computerized, some churches have not examined closely the obstacles they'll need to overcome before a computer will genuinely help them.

Here are four "bugs" that I've found need to be worked out of the system.

Determining what the computer will do

Acquiring a computer is a simple, three-step process:

1. determine what you want a computer to accomplish;

2. find the ...

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