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There are literally dozens of church management solutions out there. Given the abundance of systems available, it can feel overwhelming to start narrowing down your search. But you can eliminate well over half of the available options simply by deciding which features your church management software must have.

“Well,” you may be asking yourself, “that’s great and all, but how do I even know which features I should demand my church management software have?” A practical way to approach this question is to first establish what you would like to accomplish as a church.

Determine the top goal you’re looking to achieve

Ask yourself and your team: What’s one thing you want to do better as a church and ministry staff? A few examples of top ministry goals include:

  • Equipping staff with tools for better assimilating new members to the church
  • Giving lay leaders tools to manage their individual small groups or ministries
  • Unifying all the church’s data into a single database

Once you’ve established a concrete and measurable goal, you can begin to evaluate each church management system’s suite of features for how well they will help you reach that goal.

Identify system features that fit your objective

Some examples of features that could help your ministry achieve the goals noted above include:

  • Check-ins – Check-in for children’s ministry should not only provide security and name badges for children, but it should also record attendance in your database. Many churches have gotten away from taking attendance in classes and Sunday services, largely for practical reasons. Sometimes the only way churches have of knowing which families are most active is to check how often their kids are attending children’s ministry.

  • Registrations –Churches do a lot of registrations. Unfortunately many church management softwares are clunky when it comes to accomplishing this task. Since this tends to be a troublesome area, ask: What does this software do to smooth out the rough edges of the registration process? How can it make registrations quicker, easier and more convenient for your church?

  • Contributions – Contributions are going to be a key element of whatever system you are using. Does the system support not just one-time giving but recurring giving? Can people get their contribution statements after they have given through the system? How much of the contribution do you get to keep (what are the transaction fees)? These are key things to look for as you scout church management systems.

  • Reporting – Your database is only as valuable as (1) the data that’s in it, and (2) the data you can get out of it. If you can’t get data out of your database, what’s the point of putting it in? Look for systems that provide strong reporting you can actually use.

Focus your search on the specific needs of your church

There are a lot of great church management systems out there that can do a lot of great things. But they may not necessarily be great for your church. Focus on your needs by honing in on what you really want to accomplish. This will help make your search more targeted and fruitful.

If your goal is putting tools in the hands of lay leaders, look for systems with things like check-in and registration features that will be useful to them. If your top priority is unifying all your data, make sure you focus only on systems that will connect directly to your database. Let your goals drive your search, especially in the early stages when you have a ton of different options in front of you.

Learn more tips for finding the best church management system to meet the specific needs of your church. Download our free resource “What to Know Before You Switch” now.

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