Today, I continue my ongoing series of conversations with awesome storytellers creating fantastic projects as I’m joined by Jason Jensen, the innovative CEO and co-founder of Glass Canvas, the creators of Tilma. In their work to aid churches and ministries in unlocking their full potential, Jason and his team differ from other agencies in that they are “ministry people building ministry tools”. Today, I am happy to share their work and to invite you to consider the potential of Tilma for your faith community. LMH
Congratulations on your great work at Glass Canvas! Please briefly introduce yourself and the organization to our readers.
I’m Jason Jensen, the CEO and co-founder of Glass Canvas. We started our company over nine years ago with the conviction to bring beauty and innovation back to the way the Church communicates. Glass Canvas became an agency for faith-based organizations to help them discover their calling and anointing and then help them communicate their message in light of where God has called them. We specialized in strategy, branding, design, marketing, and digital products. Last year, we officially launched our Tilma product, which we’ve been working on for almost as long as we’ve been a company. This shifted us from an agency to a faith tech and consulting company, directing all our efforts into the Tilma product.
The release of “Tilma” is a great gift for the Church and for parishes! Can you offer an overview of this service for us?
We wanted to help parishes make more ministry impact and care for their people easier and better. In order to do that well, parishes need simpler administrative tools that also help them see the whole person. This is why we created Tilma as holistic parish software that brings all the parish needs into one place: website, giving, events, people engagement, and email. Tilma also includes a Tilma Content library of articles, podcasts, videos, and homilies created originally for Tilma and also pulled from our partners like The Abiding Together Podcast, The Grotto Network, and more.
The pandemic has shown us that now, more than ever before, parishes need to be proactive in a variety of ways. How is Tilma a solution to these needs?
COVID-19 accelerated and amplified aspects that were already true of culture: people are leaving the Church and looking to themselves to define their meaning. Most people don’t even grow up with a baseline understanding of God and Church like they once did—we’ve lost the sense of a transcendent order. Technology and the content they consume has become the main guide in this discovery. Instead of trying to keep communicating in a way that isn’t resonating or even reaching the current culture, Tilma offers a way to meet people where they are at with the same gospel message but in a way that today’s culture can understand.
It starts with making technology accessible to use. Tilma is simple and effective, no matter what skill level you have. Every person in the parish, from the pastor to the secretary, can be equipped and empowered in a new way.
Alongside things like easy-to-manage emails, event pages, and website pages, everyone on Tilma has access to great Catholic content that is created and curated to help parishioners engage Jesus in their everyday life. Because all the tools are in one place, it allows you to see the whole person and better understand the pains and barriers they are experiencing. Knowing parishioners better and having easy-to-manage technology help us meet people where they are and nudge them towards deeper encounters with God.
How do you envision Tilma taking parishes to the next level in terms of not only communications and event management but also stewardship?
We believe that discipleship is the business plan for a parish. So, all of our tools are designed to help ministry-minded people disciple their parishioners and get them more engaged in what their parish is all about. From there stewardship starts to grow naturally. When someone is engaged and being shown how to live their life according to the gospel, they naturally want to buy in and give back.
The purpose of having all of a parish’s communication, event registration, ministry sign-ups, etc. in one place is that it allows you to see the whole person and then better care for an individual’s needs and circumstances. The more you know your people, the better you can speak to them, recommend the right opportunities, and help them see where they belong. When people feel served, it becomes more about a two-way relationship than a transaction. This desire to participate within this relationship translates to things like giving back in time, talent, and treasure.
On a practical level, our tools are also made incredibly user-friendly and get rid of barriers someone might have when trying to give, such as clunky or outdated technology that is frustrating and hard to use. We’ve seen some parishes increase their digital giving up to 5% when adopting Tilma Giving, and others that put more effort in promoting online donations saw an increase of up to 30%.
How can we Catholics re-envision our attitudes around stewardship to our parishes? Why is this so critical right now?
We often think in terms of how do I give of my time, talent, and treasure? We’ve heard percentages like tithing 10% of your salary or volunteering weekly. However, I think in order to see the growth and fruit we all long for in our parishes, we have to start re-envisioning to inspire people to understand that Jesus is so amazing He’s worth everything we have. This is a paradigm shift that forces us to think about how we are living the entirety of our lives in alignment with Jesus’ design for a life of peace, joy, and hope. We need to do the hard work of helping people desire to give the entirety of their lives to Jesus. That happens when we invest in loving people well.
Tilma starts at the heart of the matter—helping connect and encourage people to a deeper relationship with God and each other. It helps make more space for people to explore God in their life, helps connect people to the right people and ministries, and find new opportunities to use their gifts for the parish. Out of this love comes the life of stewardship.
Right now, when so many are disconnected and lonely, it’s more important than ever to connect and engage people. Sometimes this looks like mentoring, running small groups, or even inviting someone to an event. As members, when we offer ourselves up to this, we offer what people are so desperate for—to be seen and loved. This is where evangelization can happen and people can experience the love of God.
How can Tilma help us, the laity, see membership in our parishes as a true mission rather than as just being someplace we show up for an hour on Sunday mornings?
We want parishes to be seen as irresistible—places to gather and remind people they are made for God and community. This looks like a vibrant community of people who love one another and are sewing back into one another, and that has to start with the members of the community looking at themselves first and remembering: this is where I belong. How do I give back to these people that I belong to? Our view of membership has to turn away from the consumer model to a family model.
How would you recommend that someone who is a parishioner bring Tilma to the attention of their pastor or parish council?
Tima is an evangelization tool. It helps pastors shepherd their people by understanding them more and then being able to make ministry decisions based on this insight. It also helps the pastor support the rest of his team. Tilma gives every person on the parish team tools and insights that help them know how to love their ministry group better.
We always recommend the first step is trying a demo so someone can see and experience Tilma for themselves. The easiest way to get a pastor to start the demo process would be to share the website www.TilmaParish.com and invite him to consider what more engagement might do in your community. We can do multiple demos for different teams on a parish team and offer trials before moving over to Tilma.
What else would you like our readers to know about Tilma?
Tilma is so much more than just software. Our heart is to see people personally encounter Jesus, and mission-focused technology is critical to making this happen. We’ve seen a shift in our culture that is demanding a new mode of communicating, and we are dedicated to making that possible for every parish.
God called us as a company to step into this moment. We have met with so many parishes that have a beautiful heart for mission, and we’re so excited for how Tilma can unlock them to make more ministry impact. For those interested in learning more about Tilma, we would love to have a conversation or show you a demo by going to tilmaparish.com.