Photo of Ruth Lash


Migrating from Arena to Rock

We are a very large church with 4 campuses and we are just starting the process of migrating from Arena to Rock. Those of you who have done that, what were your biggest pain points? What do you miss about Arena? What do you wish you had done differently?

  • Photo of Jeremy Hoff


    Hi Ruth - welcome to the community!

    >> ...migrating from Arena to Rock. Those of you who have done that, what were your biggest pain points?

    Been there. :-)
    Without knowing how "entrenched" Arena is within your organization... it's hard to say whether you're like an airplane changing one engine while flying, or two engines.

    Back in the day the church I served was looking for "feature-parity" before making the move, and I let scope creep so long that we were migrating for too long.

    For example, I see that you are using Kindrid for giving. You'll want that working so that your accounting office is stress free. In our case, the giving migration was smooth since the system was identical (Payflow Pro) and required modest babysitting. 

    Children's check in will be super key, since it's a very public-facing system. This will take planning, as it ddi for us. Thankfully, the interface was familiar enough to parents going from Arena to RockRMS, and the basic requirements (i.e. good quality family data) was the same... so this went fairly smoothly after we had learned the facets of RockRMS' checkin configuration.

    Our Arena instance had a built up set of reporting that our ministries had created and used over the years. This looked a bit like an episode of hoarders... you know the one: the family saw the large pile of empty tuna cans and wasn't sure why it was kept, yet felt distress over the uncertainty of their importance.  Anyways, meet with staff to learn of their specific reporting requirements and rebuild those in RockRMS using a well-organized reporting strategy, which the team behind RockRMS did beautifully. See more here:

    Perhaps the biggest pain point is that you will have a whole new box of Legos to work with, and lots of new possibilities thanks to them. The community is very capable and helpful.

    >> What do you miss about Arena? 

    I can't think of anything.

    >> What do you wish you had done differently?

    As alluded above, gone faster with the cutover. It is doable within six months - I recommend at least that much time, but no more without good reason. Once upon a time, a giant church did it in three - although that was years ago, it still seems heroically fast. More power to you if you can do it!

    I also wish I had set up data quality reporting very early on, and assigned some capable folks to tackle those areas from the get-go. The basic Data Quality reports will get you started, and there are a few great additions within the Community, such as these gems:

    FWIW, we had a series of lunch and learns - we provided food and presentations, the staff provided their eyes and ears. Lots of them. This helped get word out and ensured that nothing  of critical importance was missed. Having your leadership behind this strategy is huge.

    Best to you on the migration - you won't regret this move. RockRMS is... awesome for its functionality, and more awesome because of the many people behind it, including so many amazing peers that are super helpful. Keep the move in prayer. You will do great. :-)

    I hope that helps!

  • Photo of Eddie Holeman


    Ruth, Jeremy Hoff's assessment of this move is spot on. We moved from Arena to Rock about 6 years ago. As for what we miss about Arena, the answer is absolutely nothing.

    As I recall, the biggest pain point was the translation of Arena Tags and Groups to Rock Groups. The change in concept was challenging. We migrated all Tags and Groups into Groups in Rock with a group type called Arena. Then we worked with ministries to create new Groups and to move the Arena group members into the newly formed and organized groups as needed. Then we removed all of the old Arena groups instead of trying to use them as migrated. This gave us the opportunity to do a cleanup and reorganization as we made the move.

    A challenging issue, although not a major pain point, was the creation of appropriate reporting in Rock. We did this based on ministry staff requests after we migrated.

    We spent about 6 months in the migration process and felt that was enough time without dragging it out too long.

    You are going to love the customization and flexibility of Rock. And the Rock community is full of giving people who are very willing to share what we have learned.

  • Photo of Nick Airdo



    Ditto to what Jeremy and Eddie said.  In addition here are some notes I drew up back in 2015/2016 based on a "Lessons Learned" session I attended at a Church IT Network conference.  (That session was about what they did right and wrong when they moved from email platform A to email platform B -- but there are plenty of crossover areas.)  These were helpful to our conversion from Arena to Rock.

    Lessons Learned

    These will be somewhat specific to the size of our organization and the situation we were in (coming from a well-established Arena ChMS environment).

    • Learn Rock
      • Read every manual
      • Learn the power of Workflows -- they can/will be used everywhere and are important for solving seemingly impossible problems/"asks" that would otherwise require a "developer" (you don't need to be a developer to create a workflow -- just ask Derek Mangrum!)
      • Subscribe to the Rock "Ask" Q&A channels
      • Join the Rock Slack [Chat] and lurk for a while to learn the ropes
    • Determine your initial rollout scope (if you don't have to roll out everything -- then don’t)
    • Assemble your team! (You should not do this alone)
      • Designate area captains (you don't have to know how all parts of Rock work 100%, let the captains learn their area)
        • small group captain
        • involvement/connection/volunteer captain
        • report captain
        • website captain (if you use Arena for your website too)
        • and even a workflow captain if you can swing it
      • Insist that they:
        • Read the manuals for their area
        • Experiment with your test system as they set things up the way they will expect it to work later (set up a test playground system!)
        • Come to you with any questions
        • Stress to them that waiting until cutover would be too late
      • Have a weekly/monthly meeting with them to review their findings
      • Establish a support structure (1st level, 2nd level)
      • Designate the future trainer (not plural) for onboarding new staff and/or volunteers (it does not have to be you too!)
        • Train the Trainer - Have a trainer who can train area trainers who can then train their volunteers
        • Start training as soon as possible -- some people will need multiple sessions over a longer period of time
    • Plan for "special" reports and come up with your strategy
      • Due to the sophisticated nature of our Finance team, we immediately added a "Special Reports" under Finance for that team with subpages that contained Dynamic Data and/or Dynamic Report blocks we created to give them what they needed.
    • Start creating a categorized punch-list of TODOs and add to it anytime you realize something.
    • [NEW 2023]: If you're overwhelmed - engage a certified Rock partner!  There are so many nowadays and they've been through this way more than once. You will still need to do the above steps for 'great success' but you don't have to do the final conversion alone!]
      • Interview them and ask them how many conversions from Arena to Rock they have done.
      • Ask them questions you think are "gotchas".

  • Photo of Jackson Uy


    We too have migrated from Arena and I suggest plan ahead on the data that will be transferred over to Rock especially the Data Selects in Arena. Those will be converted into Defined Types. Also the Tags in Arena will be converted to Groups in Rock. I am slowly cleaning up the garbage data that were imported to Rock that are not being used and or redundant. Believe me, you don't wanna do it LOL!

    One thing on top of my head is make sure that the Baptism Date in Rock is mapped properly, I think Arena use Date Baptized. It's not really a big deal but if the data is not transferred properly to what is default field in Rock, you will then need to modify the baptism badge to use DateBaptized attribute key.