Everything you Need to Know
By Paul Backes
Following is an overview of software that a church should consider to maximize its operations and outreach to its community. The overview of church software includes examples of church software vendors that support specific functions. These are just examples for reference purposes and are not intended an endorsement of the vendors nor is it a comprehensive list of available church software.
Church Software for Accounting
Features to consider include General Ledger/Financial Reporting, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Purchase Orders, and Fixed Assets. Examples of online church software vendors in this category include QuickBooksOnline and Intacct.
Church Software for Payroll/Human Resources
Most churches will outsource this service to vendors like ADP, Intuit and Insperity. Make sure that the vendor supports minister’s salary capabilities (including housing and dual tax status). The outsourcer manages the complex issues related to income taxes. Larger churches that want to manage this in-house look to payroll/HR church software vendors like CCIS or Church Windows.
Church Software for Church Management
This is software that the church leadership team uses to understand how people are involved in your church and to foster participation in your church’s services and activities. In the past this information was typically maintained by an office administrator using church software on the office computer or local network. Online church management software significantly enhances the involvement of your leadership team, including the pastor and administrative staff and volunteer group leaders who all can use the online church software from their home or any place where the internet is available.
There are a variety of products available at a wide range in prices. Features support church and small group activities, including membership, contributions and online giving, check-in, services, directory and church/group calendars, events, attendance, and emails. In addition to the features that your church is looking for, there are other considerations that are important.
To achieve maximum advantage, your pastoral and administrative staff and volunteer leaders must be able to easily use the church management software. Look for non-cluttered, well-designed screens and intuitive navigation. Some things to look for:
- Does the church management software use responsive technology so that it displays well on smartphones, tablets and laptops?
- Can a volunteer group leader manage their group online from home with minimal training?
- Can your pastor use a smartphone to find member and family information when called away to a hospital visit?
- Can members access and update their profiles online and can they view an online church directory?
Examples of broadly functional online church management software include Fresh Vine, Fellowship One and Church Community Builder.
Church Software for Facilities Management
This is software that is used to manage the church’s buildings and equipment. Features may include room reservation and scheduling, equipment reservation, and online event registration with credit card processing. Other modules may include bookstore (inventory and point of sale) and library management. Examples of online Facilities Management church software include Cool Solutions Group and Church Office Online.
Church Software for Worship Planning and Volunteer Scheduling
Larger churches may find that online church software for volunteer scheduling can significantly aid this process. Features include volunteer scheduling based on a variety of factors, including volunteer preferences and capabilities. It will also include volunteer notification and confirmation. Worship planning can support planning for readings, prayers, media, songs and other items. Examples of online church software for worship planning and volunteer scheduling include Planning Center, Service Builder and WorshipPlanning. There are also a large number of vendors who provide materials for worship planning. Many are focused on specific denominations. Others are more general. An example of a site that was recently launched is the Theology of Work Project.
How your church leadership team selects and uses church software can create better understanding of what is happening in your church or ministry so your leadership team can make better decisions on focusing groups and events to strengthen involvement.
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