These are unprecedented times for churches and small groups. At no other time have there been so many digital resources out there to support congregations. And at no time has the need for digital organization and support been higher. Due to COVID, churches have been forced to get creative with fellowship, and to think outside the box…the sanctuary. With regular services and in-person gatherings on pause, many churches have recognized that small groups are at the forefront of outreach and engagement.
Whether you’re part of an admin team or a leader of a small group, you’ll need to decide what online tools best facilitate your work. Let’s look at your options.
Top-down or bottom-up: which approach best fits your needs?
There are really two classes of software that churches can adopt: Church management software is one. Small group management software is the other. Within small group management platforms, there is a spectrum of focus that you’ll need to investigate in order to make the right choice.
Church management software: what is it?
The first set of options is driven by a top-down approach. This would be what is referred to as “church management software.” Church management software is about tracking attendance and giving. Good church management software is bar none the best option for church administrators looking to automate processes and make administrative duties more efficient.
Church management software helps large congregations with resource management- from financial statements to room bookings to equipment inventory. Typically church management software also provides a membership database, automated communication functions, payment processing, events management, and a detailed metrics dashboard so that you can take a macro look at specific types of data.
Church management software is great at lightening the load on church admin so that they can unburden themselves from repetitive office churn and get back to actively engaging with their faith community. This is what we would categorize as a top-down approach. The priority is on administrative support and driving the bottom line in order to keep pews full and the church budget in the black. If that is what you’re looking for, check out FellowshipOne, Breeze, and ACS Technologies.
Small group management software: what is it?
Then, there’s the OTHER class of software: small group management software. Within this class there is very much a spectrum of functionality. Some options are more in keeping with the business-minded top-down approach of church management software. We suggest that the best small group management software is instead designed around a bottom-up approach.
The idea behind tools like Groupeasy: Empower small groups with robust solutions to keep members engaged and involved, and their commitment and investment will create a ripple effect upward, which will in turn take care of the churches overall bottom line. This class of software is particularly valuable right now because small groups ARE church for many during the ongoing pandemic.
Buyer beware: not all small group management software is created equal
Many tools that support small groups are still mainly focused on tracking membership and giving. They often integrate to church management software, which similarly is bottom line focused. Examples of this would be GroupVitals and ChurchTeams Groups Ministry.
The distinction is this: while church management software does the high-level tracking and balancing, Groupeasy supports the relational work of keeping the flock supported and in conversation. Do you see the difference?
Whether you choose Groupeasy or not, good small group management software should help you do the following:
- build consensus
- manage scheduling and signups
- manage change quickly and gracefully
- diffuse roles and responsibilities throughout the group so that nobody has to do all of the heavy lifting.
The churches purpose is to minister to congregants and to help them grow spiritually. This is also the urgent work of small groups, particularly so this pandemic year. Of course the business of the church is to stay in business, so that the ministering can continue to happen. That’s where good church management software comes in. But if what you’re really after is a robust set of tools that can handle the relational work of keeping members involved, engaged, and supported, then Groupeasy is a great solution for that.
If there are any other questions you have as you do your homework on picking the right tool, please leave a comment below so we can offer our support!
The Team at Groupeasy