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Hear the amazing story of how Tithe.ly's COO built technology for tens of thousands of churches.
December 20, 2019
I’m Frank Barry, COO and founding team member at Tithe.ly. It’s fantastic to get the opportunity to connect with you today. I’ll give you a little bit of information about me and who I am. I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was born in 1978 and I grew up with a single mom, a half-sister, three half-brothers. My mom was amazing. She raised us to be great human beings.
I didn't grow up going to church. I would go a little bit with my dad when I would visit him, but it wasn't part of my life. I didn't grow up a Christian. I didn't grow up in a family that was using Scripture or teaching God's Word.
Fast-forwarding all the way into college—my junior year of college, I actually moved to San Diego. I spent a little time in Palm Desert, and then moved out to San Diego, California to go to San Diego State University. At the time, I moved out here with my girlfriend. We were dating. She grew up going to church and moved right next to some girls in the dorms that invited her to church. So she was looking for a church and wanted to be connected when she moved out there. Since we were dating, she very quickly dragged me along, and I still remember my first church service at the church I still attend today.
The church super warm. There were tons of people saying “Hi!”, giving hugs, with lots of college kids. There was a very, very big college ministry, and over the course of a few months of studying the Bible, going to church, being in fellowship with other Christians, and people loving me, I decided: “Hey, I need to follow Jesus” and I made the decision right then and there. That was back in March of 1999 and my girlfriend at the time also made the decision to follow Jesus.
We broke up for a time and just needed to get our lives right with God, and that was the start. Fast-forward a few years in college, and I was really inspired by the college ministry. I said: "Man, I'd really love to go into full-time ministry after college." I received my computer science degree from San Diego State University and said: "Hey, I want to go into ministry." Providentially, that all worked out and I served as a youth minister for five years, which was a great experience.
My wife and I ministered together. I worked full-time for the church. She worked a secular job and after about five years for us as a family, full-time ministry wasn't the right fit anymore. I went and took my tech background and started working for a company in the nonprofit space. It was a tech company that made technology for nonprofits. I worked with Charles Stanley Ministries, In Touch Ministries, the Methodist church, Peacemaker Ministries, a bunch of Christian ministries and church organizations for a long time.
I spent about 13 years at that company, and that led into a passion for technology, serving the church, serving ministries, and that's how I got connected with Dean Sweetman, Barn Sweetman, and Steve Klein. That’s where Tithe.ly came from—this passion we had for serving churches and ministries with technology. That was just something that my life and my work kept coming back to. After working professionally for 13 years after college, Tithe.ly was just the next step.
That's now spun off into us launching Tithe.ly and serving about 11,000 churches. Now, every day we get to dream up: “What are we going to do next?” “How are we going to build the next tool, add the next feature, serve the next church, go into a new country?” “How are we going to grow the team and add people who are passionate about serving churches with tech like we were when we kind of got things kicked off?” It’s been a great journey.
love what we do at Tithe.ly. I do think we're serving churches in a great way by offering fantastic products—products that you'd get in the for-profit world that churches or nonprofits don't have access to, and giving them those level of tools at a price point that nobody can beat. Making Tithe.ly super affordable has been one of our main goals so that the average church plant can have amazing tech without paying crazy, crazy prices, or using subpar solutions. In that sense, Tithe.ly is a ministry in a lot of ways. We've got a lot of friends and fantastic people working at Tithe.ly. It’s a big family. It’s a big home.
From the very beginning, we wanted to weave a healthy relational culture into the fabric of Tithe.ly. So Dean, his son Barn, myself, and Steve, when the four of us all came together we were bonded. We thought: “We’re going to go do this thing together.” Our relationship has obviously grown closer and closer over the years. We enjoy working with each other. We see each other, even though we're all in different places geographically. We love hanging out with each other, and then when it came to hiring new people, working at Tithe.ly was a relational thing.
We wanted people that we could trust, that we respected, that were passionate about the church, that loved technology and loved the remote nature and the startup nature of what Tithe.ly is. That's attracted certain kinds of people. I think it's attracted people that love God and the church first and foremost. I think it's attracted people that like technology. They want to be in technology in some way. I think it's attracted people that are interested in the startup world and the fast-paced, growing, interesting, always-moving nature of what that is.
When I say startup, we're five years in, so we're a little less startup today than we were back then. But from the beginning, it's attracted those kinds of people. Every hire has required massive amounts of trust, lots of respect, and they bring their own passion for the local church, and the church that they serve themselves in, into the company. We don't have to create that—our employees already bring it.
God created that, right? He's the one that created passion for his church and people get to go bring their passion for the church into their work and our team members commonly say: "This is amazing." “How do I explain this kind of job?” “My friends always me about what I do and where I work and what it's like, and I tried to describe it to them and their minds are just blown that I can work remote. I can be anywhere I want.” I get to work with a bunch of great people, lots of them friends, and some of them family members.
I get to serve churches and talk to pastors. Our sales team often tells us: “I get to talk to 20, 30, 40, 50 pastors a day, and it's an amazing sales job or customer support job or customer success job for that reason.” We've attracted people and talent that loves the church, loves tech, and loves the family nature of our company.
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly COO Frank Barry tells his journey from youth pastor to church software innovator.
Watch the video of this episode here: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/youth-pastor-church-giving-software-innovator
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What is Tithe.ly?
Tithe.ly is the global leader in digital giving, church engagement, and church management software. Tithe.ly serves over 12,000 churches in 55 countries, and is trusted by churches and ministries such as Hillsong, North Coast Church, Rock Church, and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.