Executive Administrator Dennis Roberts didn’t know how important the church’s operating software upgrade would become when the work first began in December 2019.
The transition was complete in March 2020 — the same month when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and federal and state officials responded with orders that moved Triad and other churches to an online-only format.
March 8 was the last in-person service Triad held before resuming services with masks, social distancing, temperature checks, special cleaning and other measures on April 19.
It has taken several months for the church’s weekly attendance to increase from 30% of pre-pandemic levels to the 70% now.
Known as Realm®, Roberts counts the ACS Technologies software Triad uses among the reasons for the church’s successful management through the pandemic.
COVID-19 and its changes caused a 15% shift alone in online giving from paper checks from 2019 to 2020, he said. Meanwhile, Triad’s Connect Group small ministry and other leaders have used Realm to record attendance and manage their ministries.
“Realm is the newest version of the MyTBC software that we have been using since 2010,” Roberts said. “Realm is basically Facebook for the church.
“Group members can see news feed, post pictures, start chat sessions, or post articles for their groups to see. This includes prayer requests, meetings, attendance posting, or just basic communication,” he said.
“Realm places the ministries in control of their members. It’s a modern, Windows-compliant system that is device-independent. It offers dynamic links to phone numbers, addresses, and attachments included with Realm, and the free Realm Connect app makes its features available via smartphone and other mobile devices.
“These are important capabilities in the life of any church but especially amid the pandemic and its disruption, Realm has proved a vital and important tool to advance the daily mission and ministries of Triad Baptist Church.”
Although the Windows-based Realm software of ACS Technologies had been out for about two years, Roberts said the church waited until every element was in place at the church for its optimal use and function.
“While the timing of COVID forced us to delay the planned official rollout of Realm to members, we’ve been using the software and its capabilities since day one, including initially having people indicate whether they planned to attend services or events so we could limit attendance and help ensure proper social distancing in keeping with N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s orders,” he said.
“We used to have to do financials manually but with Realm, it’s totally automated,” Roberts said. “This requires no intervention from the church to accept offerings and post them to the bank, or for our members to review their individual tithing records, attendance, member contacts, or other information.”
Get your Realm account: Pastoral & Membership Secretary Wendy Fulp said members who haven’t created a Realm profile should call or email the church office.
“Once they do, we will send them an invite to join,” she said. “Then they just follow the instructions attached to the invite email. It takes less than five minutes. As a safety precaution, the invite to join expires 24 hours from the time it is sent so remember that and respond as soon as you can when you get the message.”
Once registered, members can access Realm through the Realm link in the top right of the TBCNOW.org website on their home computers, at the bottom of the menu on their smart phones or through Realm Connect.
Along with automated event creation, registration and dashboard views of information such as contributions, attendance, involvement and other statistics, Roberts said Realm also gives Triad the ability to automate other aspects of ministry in the future if needed — following up with visitors, scheduling baptisms, or attending the church’s First Step class for membership, and more.
Money for the software comes from the ACS Monthly Fees item of the church’s budget.