5 Must-Have Church Management Software Features

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 6:50:00 AM Categories: Ministry & Technology
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Church Management Software (ChMS or CMS) has become a necessity for most churches no matter if they are a mega or a micro church. The efficiency they bring to church data management has made life easier for leaders; however, it’s important to understand that not all ChMS packages are the same. Some offer a wide variety of features, while others do not.

Over the years, I’ve used several ChMS packages such as ACS, FellowshipOne and Churchteams, which is what our church currently uses. Based on my experience, here are five features I find indispensible:

1.    Online Small Group Search – Our church focuses heavily on growing disciples through small groups, so it’s vital we have small group search capabilities available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Having a search tool that is continually updated makes it easier for people to find the group in your church that’s right for them.

2.    Communication Tools – From the micro level (small groups) to the macro level (church wide), we constantly use the communication tools in our ChMS.  Having the ability to send out emails and text messages to specific, targeted groups in our church significantly increases our efficiency. Texting capability is also especially helpful.  We use this feature to send out texts about everything including student ministry activities, special offerings, and tornado relief updates (our church is just three miles from the Tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma in 2013).  We even use texts to alert parents attending church if their baby or child needs their attention in our nursery.

3.    Online Giving – Recently, we implemented a focused online giving plan in our church, which has helped stabilize our cash flow tremendously. We absolutely love online giving!  People can give one-time gifts online, or set up automatically recurring gifts for their tithes.  Recurring gifts help make cash flow projections much easier, and allow us to create more realistic budgets.

4.    Contribution RecordsOur ChMS software allows our finance director to keep all giving records in one place. This makes it easy for us to send out contribution statements. In fact, it’s become so easy that we send them out quarterly, rather than annually.  We email a statement as well as a PDF letter to each contributor.  This letter reviews the great things God has done in our church during the quarter and thanks the recipients for their generosity. 

5.    Kids Ministry Check-In – Through our ChMS, it’s easy for us to maintain accurate children’s ministry records. This is instrumental in helping us create a safer environment with our computerized check in. We are just now starting to use tablets to check kids in as well.  One week our Internet service crashed so we had to get old fashioned and use pen-and-paper to check in kids.  However, later that day when we were back online again, our ChMS made it easy for us to update our records, as it was a simple matter of just plugging in the data.

There are countless reasons to use Church Management Software, but these are just a few that I’m particularly fond of that have helped improve the efficiency in the operation of our church.

What ChMS features play a heavy role in how you do ministry every week?

Alan Danielson is the Senior Pastor of New Life Bible Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Previously he served as Central Team Leader for LifeGroups at LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, OK, where he led over a thousand small groups on LifeChurch’s thirteen campuses in six different states. He then founded 3Threat.net to help leaders master three essential leadership skills: vision-casting, creating strategy and fostering relationships. Alan is a popular conference speaker and consults regularly with ministries and leaders on topics relating to small groups and leadership. Learn more from Alan at 3Threat.net.