How does your church manage all of the information you receive from and about your congregants? Church management systems (ChMS) are designed to help administrators and teams with this. There are so many helpful solutions on the market today, each with their distinct approaches to keeping and managing data.
I served as a support advocate for Church Community Builder, an effective church management solution located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I've coached lots of churches who were trying to decide on which management system they should choose. Here's some of the advice I offered to pastors, executives, and church administrators on how to select the right system for them.
Start With Your Non-Negotiables
Before you even start exploring software options, get with your key leaders to determine what you need most. First, I suggest listing three, four, or as many as five essentials in managing your data. Here are the four to get you started:
Select a Champion
Today's solutions are more than a directory with names, addresses, and phone numbers. Churches can manage giving, events, forms, registrations, small groups, facilities management, check-in, service schedules, and more. If you've determined to centralize data management, someone needs to lead the way. When it's left for "everyone" to do it, no one person is responsible. The harsh reality with almost anything is when everyone owns something, no one does.
This person should lead the charge, explore the options, become familiar with what's available, and submit recommendations. A healthy goal might be to narrow the field down to three solutions.
Resist the Wow
Your church might view a ChMS as a glorified directory. But today's church management systems are so much more capableâevents and facilities management, schedule management, kids and adult check-in, forms and registrations, small group management, discipleship pathways and processes, and the list goes on.
There is a temptation to be wowed by all the things prospective ChMS platforms can do. Most services listed above come with the ChMS. But if they're extra, make sure it's a service your church is ready to use.
Consult With Other Churches
It's helpful to hear from churches who are using the platforms you're considering. I'd suggest at least two for each provider you consider. Not every client will be satisfied with the product. But if two out of three are not, it may be worth an honest conversation with the vendor. I always gave the company a chance to defend itself if I heard negative feedback that caused me to rethink a little.
Consulting with other churches also removes the sales element from the conversation. Churches have no skin in the game as to whether or not you go with the ChMS they are using.
While no platform is perfect, there are lots of great platforms. Here's my list of top solutions I've personally worked with:
Look for a solution that meets your non-negotiables list, is user-friendly for your team of pastors, and helps your church grow.
Don Wambolt has over 25 years' experience in leading church communications. More