Categories
Tools

10 Best Church Presentation Software In 2021

Church presentation software helps churches engage with their congregation during a service. The software solution enables congregation participation during a church service by making song lyrics, video, PowerPoint, Keynote, sermon notes, Bible scripture, and information visible on a large screen or screens. 

Also known as church projection software or worship presentation software it’s the best presentation solution for projecting song lyrics during worship and share Bible verses during preaching in a service or meeting.

But what is the best church presentation software in 2021? Whether projecting video files, sermon notes,  PowerPoint from a Windows PC or Keynote from a Mac OS, find check out our pick of the best cross platform solutions allowing Linux or operating system agnostic support, in our list below. We’ve included some free church presentation software along with open source, and Android remote app options as well as paid options with ease of use, top of mind in our selection.

Best Church Presentation Software

  1. OpenSong – Best free, open-source church presentation software
  2. OpenLP – Best free church presentation software for  Linux and FreeBSD
  3. Song of Songs – Best free church worship presentation software
  4. FreeWorship – Best for small churches with basic features
  5. Presenter – Best for large churches with advanced features
  6. Slipity – Best Mac iOS remote app for sermon 
  7. Praisenter – Best for lyrics projection software 
  8. Quelea – Best for sermon note integrations
  9. SlideDog – Best for simple stage display support
  10. Big Screen – Best for multilingual Bible verses 

Church presentation software could be the tool you need for creating presentations that can be displayed at church services and church events. 

Proclaim church presentation software feature-rich media library

The software allows you to display and present song lyrics, Bible passages and quotes, as well as announcements, and updates on a screen so that it’s visible to everyone in the congregation.

Some presentation tools can also integrate with online Bible resources and song repositories to fetch content and stream it live during sermons, prayer meetings and church services.

Why use church presentation software?

Church presentation software helps to make your church service accessible to the whole congregation. With a dynamic presentation displaying lyrics and scripture, the congregation can join in together. Here’s why you should consider using the software for your church:

  • Enables congregation participation during worship 
    In the past song sheets or song books have been used but with church presentation software, this is no longer necessary.
    When song lyrics are projected onto a big screen, or screens, it means that the whole congregation can easily read the song and sing along without getting lost. It makes the service accessible to everyone, to the same extent, without having prior knowledge of the song.
  • Provides the congregation with quick (and multilingual) access to scripture 
    Many people don’t want to carry around a Bible with them, as they’ll use their phone instead. But using church presentation software for sharing scripture references means your congregation don’t get distracted while they start looking up Bible verses! What’s more, some solutions have multilingual functionality and can simultaneously display scripture in multiple languages which can be great for multilingual congregations.
  • Provides easy access to important information
    Church presentation software enables you to share your church notices and announcements either passively before and after the service, or together with verbal announcements. 
Easyworship church presentation software song lyrics

Church presentation software functionality

Many of the church presentation software include feature rich functionality for the needs of churches to allow seamless church presentations:

  • Presentation streaming for worship services
  • Scripture database to display bible verses 
  • Video file playing from worship software
  • Custom slides to allow a slideshow of notices or information
  • Slide integration from Windows or Mac PowerPoint, Mac Keynote, or Google Slides
  • Layout management and customizable slide layouts
  • Multi-Screen display support
  • Multilingual Bible and Bible translation support
  • Drag and drop presentation tools
  • Media library to allow playlist support including Spotify, YouTube or VLC 
  • CCLI SongSelect (Christian Copyright Licensing International) usage tracking
  • Remote control (often within a functionality for the preacher to 
  • Countdown for the service to begin
  • Stage display or stage view preview

It’s also worth considering plugins for other church management software support, as many, like Planning Center, offer support and integrations. 

Overviews of the 10 Best Church Presentation Software

Here’s a brief description of each of the church presentation software on my list, showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

1. OpenSong – Best free, open-source church presentation software

Screenshot Of OpenSong

2. OpenLP – Best free church presentation software for  Linux and FreeBSD

Screenshot Of OpenLP

3. Song of Songs – Best free church worship presentation software

Screenshot Of Song Of Songs

4. FreeWorship – Best for small churches with basic features

Screenshot Of FreeWorship

5. Presenter – Best for large churches with advanced features

Screenshot Of Presenter

6. Slipity – Best Mac iOS remote app for sermon 

Screenshot Of Slipity

7. Praisenter – Best for lyrics projection software 

Screenshot Of Praisenter

8. Quelea – Best for sermon note integrations

Screenshot Of Quelea

9. SlideDog – Best for simple stage display support

Screenshot Of SlideDog

10. Big Screen – Best for multilingual Bible verses 

Screenshot Of BigScreen

Other Church Presentation Software

  1. VideoPsalm
  2. Worship Him
  3. ZionWorx
  4. Worship Extreme
  5. Sharefaith Presenter
  6. Mediashout
  7. Christie
  8. EasyWorship
  9. Renewed Vision ProPresenter
  10. Faithlife Proclaim
  11. WorshipStorm
  12. Yodeck
Categories
Tools

10 Best Church Website Builder

Keep reading this post to find all you need to know about the best church website builders for 2021. 

We assessed each website builder’s ease of use, features, integrations, customization options, value for money and pricing, templates, and put their website building  and website design through their paces.

Keep reading this post so you can build your new website and choose a website builder for your church that suits you and your church best.

Best Church Website Builder Shortlist

  1. WordPress – Best for church website future flexibility
  2. SquareSpace – Best for easily creating  a beautiful design
  3. CloverSites – Best for integrated church content 
  4. Abundant – Best for integrated church website functionality
  5. The Church Co – Best for speedy one-week turnaround
  6. ShareFaith – Best for church specific website features
  7. Nucleus – Best for integrated church community & comms features
  8. Subsplash SnapPages – Best for full featured out the box templates
  9. Tithe.ly – Best for embedded live streaming
  10. Aplos – Best for beginner-friendly approach 

Church website functionality to consider:

Content and news:  Your church site and content should be easy to discover and interact with by consolidating it all into an easy to use, intuitive, and delightful feed that includes your social media. This will enable you to highlight events and gatherings to encourage participation and show your latest sermon, podcast, Bible study, blogging and more

Events calendar: You’ll want to be able to list your regular Sunday services, mid-week groups, Bible study, prayer meetings, courses and other activities, on your church website.

Sermons, podcasts & media player: Often people check out a church’s media library or podcast, before visiting a church. Plan to put videos of your sermon recordings or audio on your website to accommodate this; you’ll want an easy way to host both the content and media player.

Giving and donations: If you plan to take donations through your website, then you need to make sure that your church website will support this, and connect with your church accounting software. 

Registrations and forms: For certain events you may need to limit registrations or attendance so integrated forms and submissions maybe be important. A range of contact forms will also help to build your church and ability to respond to your church’s needs better.

SEO: It’s no good having a website if no one can find you; you want a website builder that enables you to maximize your search engine visibility through custom titles, meta descriptions, internal linking, URL structuring, custom domains, and alternate domain names for special events or ministries. 

Extendibility: As your church grows, you want a website builder that can keep up – think about what church software you need to integrate with, what add-ons are available, plugins you can use, 

Church app:  A church app can be a great way to engage your church on the go through their mobile devices. By having a church app that runs from the same content and data as the church website, it’s less administration and useful to remind members of events, host the church podcast, enable giving, and more.

Members’ area: You might want to have some content, like the event details and contact details only available to registered church members.

Design and templates:  Good web design and design flexibility matters! Pick a church website builder that has a wide variety of church website content templates and ability to make changes with little website know-how. Think about what you want to communicate, and how you want to do that – you’ll want features that enable you to have a professionally designed church website template to make your site look beautiful and function like one of the best church websites around. A good drag-and-drop editor will help you easily customize the design, add images, update colors and more, so you can create a church website that matches your church’s brand.

Different user accounts and permissions: You’d probably want to have certain church members (volunteers) be able to update the website when needed, without giving them access to everything. Think too about step by step tutorials available and customer support on hand to help them do that! 

Overviews of the 10 Best Church Website Builder

Here’s a brief description of each of the church website builder on my list, showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

1. WordPress – Best for church website future flexibility

Screenshot Of WordPress

2. SquareSpace – Best for easily creating  a beautiful design

Screenshot Of SquareSpace

3. CloverSites – Best for integrated church content 

Screenshot Of CloverSites

4. Abundant – Best for integrated church website functionality

Screenshot Of Abundant

5. The Church Co – Best for speedy one-week turnaround

Screenshot Of The Church Co

6. ShareFaith – Best for church specific website features

Screenshot Of ShareFaith

7. Nucleus – Best for integrated church community & comms features

Screenshot Of Nucleus

8. Subsplash SnapPages – Best for full featured out the box templates

Screenshot Of Subsplash SnapPages

9. Tithe.ly – Best for embedded live streaming

Screenshot Of Tithe.ly

10. Aplos – Best for beginner-friendly approach 

Screenshot Of Aplos

Other church website builders:

We’ve not yet had a chance to check out these website builders for churches yet, but it’s worth taking a look to see if they meet your needs.

  1. Weebly
  2. Wix
  3. Appypie 
  4. Elexio 
  5. FellowshipOne
  6. Church Dev
  7. Church123
  8. Ministry Designs
  9. Digital Church Platform
  10. Ekklesia360
  11. FaithlifeSites
  12. FaithNetwork

Consider too, that many church management software includes website functionality.

White label website builders

Maybe you’ve got a few church websites you’re trying to build – if so, think about using a white label website builder like those listed below:

  1. https://agency.weblium.com/
  2. https://sitegalore.com/
  3. https://www.duda.co/website-builder/white-label
  4. https://webwave.me/
  5. https://www.ucraft.com/whitelabel
  6. https://offsprout.com/
  7. https://www.motocms.com/customer-services/reseller-white-label-website-builder/
  8. https://www.monosolutions.com/platform/website-builder

What church website builder do you like best?

Have you discovered or used any good church website builders recently? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories
Tools

10 Best Church Accounting Software Of 2021

Find the best accounting software for your church. Compare product reviews, criteria and pricing in our in depth review of the best church accounting software. 

Churches need to track income and expenses like any other organization – but they also have some more specific requirements that some accounting software can’t easily support. Features like managing individual donations and tithes (and providing tax receipts) are unique. Similarly, keeping detailed reports of which church ministries and projects are funded, and how those funds are utilized are crucial to the success and transparency of a church accounting system.

Furthermore, while most accounting software is set up for the needs of businesses and requires some basic knowledge of accounting and bookkeeping. Church accounting software, by contrast, is typically geared toward non-accountants, making it easier to use.

Finding the right tools to maintain compliance and balance the books can be a challenge with so many hoops to jump through. We reviewed the best church accounting software platforms based on reputation, ease-of-use, features, price, and more. Here are ten of our top picks.

Best Church Accounting Software Shortlist

  1. Xero – Best accounting software for small churches
  2. QuickBooks Online + Breeze – Best for medium-sized churches
  3. Sage Intacct – Best for larger churches
  4. ACS Technologies – Best for church oriented systems
  5. IconCMO – Best for web-based system
  6. PowerChurch Plus – Best for all-in-one system
  7. AccountEdge Pro – Best for local installation
  8. ZipBooks – Best for free church bookkeeping
  9. Botkeeper – Best for automated bookkeeping
  10. Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT – Best for nonprofits

What is Church Accounting Software?

Church accounting software is simply an accounting system that helps churches keep their books balanced. It’s a general ledger used to track income (accounts receivable) usually in the form of member and donor contributions usually from regular tithing, and giving, as well as managing fundraising, gift days, grants. It includes budgeting management, expense tracking, and provides an accounting solution for tracking the pay of vendors or staff.  

Most churches are registered as nonprofit or have charity status. Because of this, church accounting software offers similar functionalities as traditional nonprofit software, such as donor management and fundraising. It’s no surprise that these accounting features can be found in many standard accounting software solutions.  

Many churches don’t have experienced accountants on staff, so the needs of churches are perhaps different from other nonprofit organizations. Churches, particularly small churches, need user-friendly accounting software that’s easy to use and set up, with the categories and types of transactions churches need to track. Accounting software that offers pre-made reports can also be helpful for presenting a church’s financial picture to church members and stakeholders.        

How Much Do Church Accounting Software Programs Cost?

Most church accounting software is cloud-based and available for a monthly subscription. The convenience of having the platform online eliminates the need for churches to buy the right computer for their software. In most cases, any current computer with internet access will do. 

We found that subscription-based church accounting software typically ranges from $16 to $79 per month, with $350 being the high end. Many offer tiered pricing options based on the features a church needs. Higher tiers typically include more advanced finance features like payroll processing and advanced reporting.     

Features of Church Accounting Software

While each software solution will be different, these are some of the most commonly found features in a church accounting software solution:

  • Accounting: Covers things such as accounts payable (AP), accounts receivable (AR) and a general ledger (GL). Given the nonprofit status of most churches, the AR functionality will usually work in unison (or be replaced) with a donor management, fundraising, or fund accounting functionality.
  • Payroll: Manages employee compensation: wage calculation, ACH deposits, check printing, and compensation tax reports
  • Donor management & fundraising: Know how much each member has given on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis and provide annual giving statements to the members for tax reporting purposes. Solicit donations with targeted campaigns. Create campaigns that to encourage smaller donors to contribute more.
  • Membership tracking: Manage information on your members such as attendance, frequency of gifts, personal information such as address, volunteer details, interested, activities, and more. Analyze trends to see when attendance is increasing/decreasing.

Benefits of Church Accounting Software

The best kind of church organization has taken advantage of two things: knowledge, and efficiency. While recording information via paper spreadsheets may be cost-effective, is not the most efficient way of your time. Having to go back through records in different file cabinets or different offices is slow and cumbersome. The key is finding the right balance.

Organize Your Member Contributions and Attendance

A majority of church income comes from member contributions, so tracking member contributions is a needed function to give you insight into how much each member has given on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Now only does this allow you to give annual giving statements to members for tax reporting purposes, but it also helps keep your financial reporting as clean as possible.

Having more advanced reporting on who is giving, and when, can help you solicit donations with targeted campaigns. Larger donors can be targeted for capital campaigns, or even encouraged to have the church listed as a beneficiary when they are creating their estate plans. Smaller donors can be worked to contribute more frequently based on numerous small events or projects the church may be working on.

Get A Better Grasp At Finances With Church Accounting

Accounting will work as accounting should. So what features make it exclusive to managing a church organization?

One ability that may go overlooked is the ability to print accounts payable and payroll checks in a self-mailer format. Mailings may seem like a thing of the past with the prevalence of emails and online newsletters, but sometimes an old-fashioned mailer sent to a members home is a great reminder of their past gifts and an easy way to encourage them to keep giving. It is especially beneficial for the technology-averse crowd.

Nonprofits should look for a solution with the intent of saving time. Online training is a great tool for self-paced learning, which is beneficial when you have a part-time staff composed of volunteers.

Overviews of the 10 Best Church Accounting Software

Here’s a brief description of each of the church accounting software on my list, showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

1. Xero – Best accounting software for small churches

Screenshot Of Xero

2. QuickBooks Online + Breeze – Best for medium-sized churches

Screenshot Of Quickbooks Online

3. Sage Intacct – Best for larger churches

Screenshot Of Sage Intacct

4. ACS Technologies – Best for church oriented systems

Screenshot Of ACS Technologies

5. IconCMO – Best for web-based system

Screenshot Of IconCMO

6. PowerChurch Plus – Best for all-in-one system

Screenshot Of PowerChurch Plus

7. AccountEdge Pro – Best for local installation

Screenshot Of AccountEdge Pro

8. ZipBooks – Best for free church bookkeeping

Screenshot Of ZipBooks

9. Botkeeper – Best for automated bookkeeping

Screenshot Of BotKeeper

10. Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT – Best for nonprofits

Screenshot Of Blackbaud Financial Edge Nxt

Other Church Accounting Software

  1. Givelify 
  2. Church360 Ledger 
  3. ChurchPro 
  4. Aplos
  5. CDM +
  6. Church Windows Software 
  7. MartusTools
  8. PowerChurch
  9. ShelbyNext Financials
  10. FlockBase
  11. Breeze
  12. ACS Church Accounting
  13. Shelby Systems
  14. Elexio Church Financials
  15. Paxton Charities Accounting
  16. ExpensePlus
  17. Jewel
  18. PowerChurch Plus 
  19. Breeze ChMS
  20. ChurchTrac
  21. AccountEdge Pro

Church Management Software and accounting

If you’re looking for a more integrated accounting and church management solution, that combines financial management with church management, you should check out our list of church management software. Many of these tools integrate church accounting functionality. 

What church accounting software do you use?

Have you discovered or used any church accounting software recently? What did you think of it? Let us know if the comments below.

Categories
Tools

10 Best Church Management Software In 2021

Looking for church management software? Then check out our list of the best church management software. It’ll give you a simple, easy comparison of the best church management software on the market in 2021.

In this complete ChMs review, you’ll discover the best church management tool options along with a simple explanation of the criteria for choosing high-performing tools.

You’ll also find overviews of each tool, screenshots, to give you a quick and that will help you narrow down the choices.

On top of that, I answer all the commonly asked questions about church management software; you’ll learn what church management software is and how it can change the way you deliver you manage and run your church in a more effective and productive way.

Best church management software

Our shortlist of the best church management tools:

  1. Wild Apricot – Best free ChMS for small churches
  2. Elvanto – Best all-inclusive ChMS
  3. Breeze – Best for ease of use
  4. Chmeetings – Best for price
  5. TouchPoint – Best mobile app experience
  6. Blackbaud – Best for managing people, ministries, and payments, all in one place
  7. Excellerate Church Management – Best for on-site local network installation
  8. Fellowship One – Best all-in-one solution
  9. Shelby Systems – Best CHMs for larger churches
  10. Servant Keeper – Best for expandability

What is Church Management Software?

Church Management software (sometimes referred to as ChMS) is a suite of online tools that helps churches organize, automate and manage their daily church operations. 

Now you’ve seen the eclectic mix of church management software in our list, you’ll see it’s a wide range of software and SaaS tools that make running a thriving and growing church more effective, easier, and better. It does this by providing a combination of tools that support and in many ways, automate, church administration.

What can Church Management Software do for my Church?

Church Management software is designed to streamline church administration,  providing functionality for a host of different needs that churches have including communication, membership management, small groups and event registration, mass communication, check-in, and donor management. Below we break down the functionality you can expect and look out for in the tools listed below.

Church Management Software Functionality

Church management software (ChMS) features typically include:

  • Membership management – maintain an up-to-date member directory including family and contact information for your congregation.
  • Attendance tracking – Keep track of your congregation’s involvement and facilitate Covid-19 contact tracing.
  • Donor & Giving management – provides a secure channel of collection and management of tithes, donations, online giving, and other contributions from church members.
  • Financial accounting – assists in the management of resources, tracking of expenses, and reporting.
  • Communication tools – Send mass emails and/or text messages to all members
  • Events management – easily organize events for social activities and outreach opportunities
  • Volunteer management – Scheduling tools to manage large groups of volunteers to make running your church services as smooth as possible.
  • Check-in and child security management – a vital tool to ensure the safety of all minors placed in the care of church leaders during Sunday School or other activities.
  • Website builder – Tools to allow you to create and deploy your church website.

The 10 Best Church Management Software Overviews

In this post, we’ve tried to cover a broad spectrum of software, considering complexity, price points, and functionality. But as much as anything, it’ll come down to your church and what features and functionality you need to make it function better. Have a look and sign up for some trials to test-drive and find the best church management software for your case.

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1. Wild ApricotBest free church management software for small churches

Wild Apricot church management software's in-built website builder interface
Wild Apricot church management software’s in-built website builder interface.
  • Price: Free for up to 50 contacts
  • Trial: Free 30 day trial (no credit card required)

Wild Apricot is a powerful, easy-to-use, web-based church management system for churches and non-profits to help manage administrative tasks, membership, website, event registration, and other activities.

Wild Apricot is a complete membership management system. Easily manage your contacts, process payments, send out emails, and register event attendees. You can also build a website for your organization using professionally designed and mobile-friendly templates.

Wild Apricot is designed for volunteer-run and small staff organizations with a user-friendly interface that doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge. You will also have access to the user community of peers and experts to get support and share knowledge of best practices.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Competitive pricing
  • Highly customizable

Cons

  • Limited choice of website templates

2. Elvanto – Best all-inclusive ChMS

Elvanto’s homepage.
  • Price: $50/month
  • Trial: Demo call available

Elvanto is an all-in-one cloud-based solution with many innovative features. Elvanto streamlines pastoral and administrative duties. Plan worship activities, manage finances, and engage with church members. 

Elvanto has an all-inclusive range of tools with no add-on modules and no extra charges. Some of the main features include access control, customizable forms, custom reports, mobile app, event management, group management, email and SMS messaging, volunteer scheduling, and attendance tracking.

Elvanto makes the planning of worship services and managing volunteers simple. Create run sheets, schedule your volunteers, access your song database, lyrics, and chords. It has a simple drag and drop interface that makes quickly creating service plans for your team a breeze.

Child check-in, privacy, and safety are some of the key features integrated into Elvanto, vital for children and youth leaders to ensure all in their care are accounted for.

Elvanto also has powerful features for accessing financial data, contribution management, and has the ability to connect with various online giving providers.

Pros

  • Great integration with 3rd party financial partners

Cons

  • Some features like check-in don’t always work reliably.

3. Breeze – Best for ease of use

Breeze’s report generating interface.
  • Price: Starting at $50/month
  • Trial: Instant Demo available

Breeze is an easy-to-use web-based church management system designed with small churches to mid-sized churches in mind. With Breeze, you can easily add new data, send mass emails and text messages, track attendance and check-in children securely, and process donations online and by text message. Breeze requires no contract or set up fee and offers a data migration service to get you started quickly.

Breeze makes it easy to manage your church’s database, communicate with your members via email or text message, offer online and text giving, safely check-in children, manage events and volunteers, run reports, and much more!

Pros

  • easy data transfer from other systems
  • responsive customer support

Cons

  • Some features are quite basic

4. CHMeetings – Best for price

CHMeetings Dashboard.
  • Price: Free for 100 people. Starting at $10/month for up to 250 people.
  • Trial: Not available

CHMeetings is a powerful church management system designed for churches of all sizes and denominations. Easily manage church membership, groups, events, follow-up, and broadcasts.

CHMeetings transforms your workflow by doing it all online. You can create registration forms, see who already submitted theirs, and view attendance data of all events. Check-in is easy for leaders and members via the app. You can also offer your members an easy option to manage their online giving and event fees and easily generate up-to-date financial reports.

Managing the legal, security, and privacy aspects of your data are made easy, and with account restriction settings you have total control over which data individuals can access. CHMeetings include state-of-the-art security features and firewall technology. No matter what device you access data from, it will be secure. CHMeetings also makes daily backups of your data.

Pros

  • Very affordable, tiered pricing based on church size
  • Up-to-date security and firewall features

Cons

  • The mobile app could use some improvements

5. TouchPoint – Best mobile app experience

Screenshots from TouchPoint’s mobile app.
  • Price: $300/year (based on a 100-member church)
  • Trial: Not available

TouchPoint is a substantial cloud-based church management software solution that equips church leaders and administrators of mid-sized churches to large churches looking for an off the shelf ChMS which is also highly customizable. A fully-integrated mobile app helps you with membership management, volunteer management, child check-in, discipleship groups, ministry engagement, tithes, events, media, and more.

Pros

  • Responsive tech support
  • Best-in-class mobile app

Cons

  • Initial setup has a steep learning curve
  • Slow to implement updates

6. Blackbaud – Best for managing people, ministries, and payments, all in one place

Blackbaud’s Congregation summary page.
  • Price: Contact Blackbaud for a quote
  • Trial: Not available

Blackbaud Church Management Software is a cloud-based tool that can effectively manage your people, gifts, communications, events, and volunteers all in one place.

Better understand how your congregation is engaging with your church through a single source of data. With connected Financial Management, Payments, and more, on one digital platform. Simplify tithes and online giving for your congregation with one-time and recurring giving options via a connected giving app. With Faith Journey tracking you can get a better understanding of your members using comprehensive member and family profiles.

7. Excellerate Church Management – Best for on-site local network installation

Excellerate’s Serve Point scheduling system.
  • Price: Free for 50 members. Starting at $145 for 100 members (some features omitted).
  • Trial: Not available

Excellerate Church Management Software is a comprehensive and flexible solution that is highly adaptable to your church needs, including membership management, visitor follow-up, small groups, fundraising, child check-In, volunteer scheduling, and more.

Pros

  • A choice between cloud-based or on-site installation.
  • No monthly subscription for on-site installations and cost varies based on church size

Cons

  • Accessing technical support costs extra
  • Some knowledge of SQL is helpful.

8. Fellowship One – Best all-in-one solution

Fellowship One’s member profile interface.
  • Price: Starting at $19.60 per month
  • Trial: Not offered

Fellowship One’s church management software suite of tools allows for easily accessible and automated management of member data. Rapidly assimilate new visitors and reduce the workload of your staff. Members can access and update their own data and stay connected to the community through a central, online environment.

You can automate communication with mass email, using attractive newsletter templates and easily target specific demographics or groups, and maintain quality personal connections with all your members as your church grows in size

Pros

  • All-in-one solution

Cons

  • Not so user friendly
  • Outdated Interface

9. Shelby Systems – Best CHMs for larger churches

Shelby Systems Groups interface.
  • Price: Starting at $35.13/month
  • Trial: Not offered

Shelby Arena is a full church management software solution with strong, ministry-oriented tools and seamless integration with Shelby Financials and ShelbyNext Giving. Shelby Systems can help you increase your outreach in many ways to both current and potential new members.

Designed for mid-size to large Churches, it is a cloud-based membership management tool that helps with child check-ins, attendance tracking, room reservations, and more.

Pros

  • Unlimited access to technical support and training resources
  • Competitive monthly pricing based on church size

Cons

  • The desktop app is Windows only
  • The complex interface requires some technical knowledge
  • The software is not updated regularly

10. Servant Keeper – Best for expandability

Servant Keeper contributions overview page.
  • Price: Starting at $10/month + app licenses
  • Trial: Free demo available

Powerful, easy to use church management system for attendance tracking, donor management, mass communication via email or text, child check-in, custom financial reporting, and much more! Available across multiple platforms, including Windows/Mac and iOS/Android. Servant Keeper offers a cloud-based solution or an on-site solution that runs on your church’s network.

Pros

  • Choose between an on-site or cloud-based solution

Cons

  • The desktop app requires an expensive license for every computer it’s run on.

Church Management Software Comparison Criteria

It’s worth thinking about what makes a good church management software solution. To be featured on this list, I evaluated the church management tools based on the following criteria:

  • Value for money: How appropriate is the price for its features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?
  • User Interface (UI): How well-designed is it? Does it offer clear displays and intuitive navigation?
  • Usability:  Is this resources management system easy to learn and master? Are there tutorials and training? Does the company offer good tech and user support?
  • Features & Functionality: How many of the key features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they?
  • Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
  • Customizable: Can you customize and adapt the software to your church and team’s specific needs?

It’s worth comparing different tools as they’re set at different price points, different functionalities (such as timesheets, expenses, approval workflows, task management), and different 3rd party integrations.

Other church management software

None of the above work for you? Check out the list below for additional church management software tools:

  1. Faithlife Equip
  2. ChurchTrac
  3. CFS Live
  4. Churchteams
  5. Ministry Tracker
  6. Elexio
  7. CCIS
  8. Church Community Builder
  9. Parishsoft
  10. Power Church Software
  11. Realm
  12. Kyrios
  13. Raklet
  14. Text In Church
  15. CDM+
  16. Planning Center
  17. SeekerWorks
  18. Church Windows

Other church technology tools you should consider

Other types of church management software and technology you should also consider including in your toolkit:

Which Church Management Software Do You Recommend?

What do you think we’re missing? Which other tools do you recommend, and what would you add to these church management software reviews? We’d love to hear if you’ve got any suggestions, tips or thoughts on using this kind of software – why not share them using the comments below?

Categories
Tools

10 Best Church Software For 2021

Church software is designed to assist churches structure and manage daily operations. Typically on Sunday’s that the event planning, volunteer management, child check-in and attendance tracking. Mid-week it could be Sunday service follow up tracking and church administration, event management or small group meetings or running background checks on volunteers. 

Whether you’re a small church, mid-sixed church, or even a large church, as a church leader you know you need a reliable and efficient system, that’s user friendly and that will equip both your congregation and staff to operate effectively.

Most broadly, church software is any software that specifically designed for use by a church. Church software can be sourced to meet a specific need but is often bundled together with a wide range of functionality within a chms, or church management software.

You can find church software for:

If you’re looking for church management software, or specifically an all-in-one church management system, check out our list which contains all the best church management software solutions. 

Our pick of the best church software

This list of church software is what we think are the best in class church software platforms, across all functionality, our reviews below include functionality and pricing information.

We’ve made this shortlist primarily on what we consider to be forward-thinking and more cutting edge church chms software that is demonstrated by user-friendly interface, communication tools such as text messages, availability of mobile app (including android), child check-in, volunteer scheduling, event registration, text giving, and excellent customer support that would be suitable for churches of all sizes.

  1. Wild Apricot
  2. Servant Keeper 
  3. Aplos
  4. Breeze ChMS
  5. MinistryTracker
  6. Elexio
  7. Subsplash
  8. Tithe.ly
  9. ChurchStaq
  10. Blackbaud Church Management

Overviews of the 10 Best Church Software

Here’s a brief description of each of the church software on my list, showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

1. Wild Apricot

Screenshot Of Wild Apricot

2. Servant Keeper 

Screenshot Of Servant Keeper

3. Aplos

Screenshot Of Aplos

4. Breeze ChMS

Screenshot Of Breeze ChMS

5. MinistryTracker

Screenshot Of MinistryTracker

6. Elexio

Screenshot Of Elexio

7. Subsplash

Screenshot Of Subsplash

8. Tithe.ly

Screenshot Of Tithe.ly

9. ChurchStaq

Screenshot Of ChurchStaq

10. Blackbaud Church Management

Screenshot Of Blackbaud Church Management

Other church software

  1. Church Social
  2. One Church
  3. Faith Teams
  4. ChurchTrac
  5. SimpleChurch CRM
  6. Rock RMS
  7. Donarius
  8. IconCMO
  9. CahabaWorks Church
  10. Church Community Builder
  11. Excellerate Church Software
  12. Church Office Online
  13. Chmeetings
  14. Church Community
  15. CDM+
  16. Planning Centre
  17. Realm
  18. Churchteams
  19. ProPresenter
  20. MediaShout
  21. FellowshipOne

What church software do you use?

Have you discovered or used any good church software recently? What did you think of it? Let us know if the comments below.

Categories
Tools

10 Best Worship Software & Tools For Your Church

Worship software is often also called church presentation software. But it’s more than that – as you’ll see in our list of worship software and tools below, there are other tools and software that you can use to help your worship band lead – and congregation engage in worship.

Keep reading this post to discover our shortlist of the best worship software for 2021, and you’ll discover tools that provide additional functionality beyond presentation – but help the worship pastor, worship band and team create the best worship service to help people encounter Jesus.

Best Worship Software

Here’s our list of the best church worship software and tools to help you plan worship, schedule people and manage music and projection:

  1. Planning Centre – Best for worship planning & musician app
  2. WorshipTrac – Best for simple, no frills solution
  3. WorshipTeam – Best for a stand-alone worship workspace
  4. Worship Planning – Best for low price solution
  5. Sunday Sounds – Best for MainStage worship patches and templates
  6. MultiTracks – Best for giving your worship sets a fuller sound
  7. FellowshipOne – Best for integrated ChMS functionality
  8. PraiseCharts – Best place for downloading sheet music for songs
  9. Worship Extreme Music Stand – Best for chord sheets and lyrics
  10. Transposr – Best for transposing songs to different keys

What is Worship Software?

Now you’ve seen the eclectic mix of worship software in our list, you’ll see it’s a range of software and SaaS tools that make planning, coordinating and running Sunday services and church services easier, and better. It does this by providing tools that support and automate the preparation and coordination efforts of pastors, worship leaders, musicians, and volunteers.

Other worship software for church presentation

If you’re specifically looking for ways to project lyrics, images and video onto a screen, you’re probably looking for a church presentation tool. For that, check out our full list of church presentation tools here.

What to look for when choosing worship software

  • Script/Playlist/ Presentation Order Creation/Editing
    Church services typically use a combination of songs, graphics, videos and countdowns. Sequencing these items should be easy and fast. Ask yourself – how easy is it to reorder a service should when the need arises?
  • Song Importing
    How easy is it to import songs into the software? Songs tend to come from a variety of sources (web, e-mail, Word docs, other databases, etc.); how capable and flexible is the software?
  • Song Editing
    Once the songs are in there, how easy is it to edit them? This includes changing words, changing the order or creating custom verses and choruses.
  • Song Background Support
    Unless you put white text over black backgrounds, the way the software handles background images and video is important. How do these three compare?
  • Audio & Video Handling
    Video playback can include files and DVD; SD & HD; controls and format capabilities.
  • Speaker Support
    We do a lot of sermon graphics and text slides. How do we do it, and how well does it work?
  • User Experience (For Training Volunteers)
    The most powerful software in the world is useless unless people (in our case volunteers) can use it. How quickly can non-professional volunteers pick it up and run with it?
  • Remote Editing
    I like to create the playlists during the week from my laptop. How easy is it to do this and then move the entire show to the presentation computer?
  • Price
    How affordable is this, for a young church plant, and for larger churches
  • 3rd Party Integrations
    How well does this play with other church management software

Worship Software Functionality

  • Volunteer (band/worship team) scheduling – Who’s playing and serving, when.
  • Worship plans – Create unique plans for each service, including details on people, songs, and notes.
  • Order of service – What’s happening, in what order.
  • Rehearsal tools – Song library, transposing and media player
  • Song & lyric projection – The song lyrics, on screen. Sequencing these items should be easy and fast. How easy is it to reorder a service should the need arise?
  • Video projection – Videos, and background graphics.

Overviews of the 10 Best Church Worship Software

Here’s a brief description of each of the church worship software on my list, showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

1. Planning Centre – Best for worship planning & musician app

Screenshot Of Planning Centre

2. WorshipTrac – Best for simple, no frills solution

Screenshot Of WorshipTrac

3. WorshipTeam – Best for a stand-alone worship workspace

Screenshot Of WorshipTeam

4. Worship Planning – Best for low price solution

Screenshot Of Worship Planning

5. Sunday Sounds – Best for MainStage worship patches and templates

Screenshot Of Sunday Sounds

6. MultiTracks – Best for giving your worship sets a fuller sound

Screenshot Of MultiTracks

7. FellowshipOne – Best for integrated ChMS functionality

Screenshot Of FellowshipOne

8. PraiseCharts – Best place for downloading sheet music for songs

Screenshot Of PraiseCharts

9. Worship Extreme Music Stand – Best for chord sheets and lyrics

Screenshot Of Worship Extreme Music Stand

10. Transposr – Best for transposing songs to different keys

Screenshot Of Transposr
Categories
Tools

12 Best Donor Management Software Comparison

To run a successful organization that depends on donations, it’s important that you have an excellent system to organize your work. You’ll need to manage a donor database, on-board new donors efficiently, store donation forms, run social media campaigns, and generally streamline your fundraiser processes. Without the right software and campaign management tools in the form of donor management software, this can be a challenging undertaking.

Donor management software is like customer relationship management (CRM) software; only it’s for non-profits. The software is essential for large and small not-for-profit businesses that want to run non-profit CRM, donor communication, event registration, outreach, and other fundraising efforts.

In this article, we look at the best donor management software on the market today. Keep reading to discover how you can use contemporary tools to manage your donor engagement and donor membership management. 

The Best Donor Management Software List

Below is our selection of the 12 best donor management software for fundraising campaigns, peer fundraising, managing direct mail with donors, storing donor information, and maintaining the donor base at the levels you want.

  1. Kindful
  2. Aplos
  3. Salesforce for Non-Profit
  4. Blackbaud
  5. Donorperfect
  6. Bloomerang
  7. Salsa Labs
  8. Little Green Light 
  9. Servant Keeper
  10. Donor Tools
  11. Church Community Builder
  12. Virtuous CRM

Donor Management Software FAQs

Before I look at the best donor management software in our list, let’s start by looking at some of the main questions I often encounter when talking about donor management tools that can help non-profit teams run some of the best fundraising events.

What is Donor Management Software?

Donor management software is a kind of computer program that assists teams in non-profit organizations involved in fundraising understand and take maximum advantage of their relationships with donors. These programs assist organizers in managing donor data and analyzing the data to ensure that donors keep funding projects.

Donor management software helps teams automate processes and manage workflows better. The technology ensures that processes that would take days when done by hand can be done in real-time in seconds. The software accomplishes this by providing user-friendly templates that can be customized for different campaigns.

Data gathered by these tools allows organizations to segment and sort both potential and current donors. This makes it possible to operate strategically and apply different approaches for diverse donors. This data includes donor behaviors and financial capacity, thus providing non-profit organizations with specific, actionable takeaways and fundraising strategies.

Why is Donation Management Software Important for NGO Teams?

Donor management software helps non-profit organizations run their processes more efficiently in a coordinated way. It makes tasks that would have taken hours, if not days, easily accomplished in minutes, if not seconds. It reduces the workload of staff members and frees up more time to concentrate on finding more donors.

The software helps organizations to put in place systems that improve relationships between the donor and the non-profit organization by building trust through secure transactions. The donation tool makes it possible for donors to share their personal and financial information without worrying that this will compromise their security. 

Analysis of the donor data acquired can be used to segment the donors. Based on their experiences, messaging and support can be personalized.

What Should Non-Profits Look for in a Donation Management Software Tool?

When you’ve decided on getting software for your non-profit, there are several elements you should consider: the capacity or member size the tool can handle, how easy the tool is to use, and the type of support you can expect from its developers or vendors. 

Find out the essential features that help you know who your donors are, how much they donate, the times they are likely to donate, and whether the donors have seen your correspondence. You also need to consider whether the software will assist you in monitoring donor retention.

The best way to get a grasp of each tool’s features is to ask for a demonstration. Check how many users can have accounts, as well as their access levels.

Testimonials are essential to the selection process. Reach out to the fundraising tool’s previous and current clientele to get real, unbiased, and independent user feedback.

Donation Management Software Comparison Criteria

To search for the best donation management software for non-profits, I use the following criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI) and Functionality: Is it clean and attractive? Does the software solution come with more functionality than others? 
  2. Usability and Reliability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the software offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? Will it have mandatory upgrades to improve online fundraising processes and security?
  3. Integration with Other Tools: Does the software integrate with other tools, such as church management tools, non-profit management software, accounting software, and others?
  4. Efficiency: Does the software make teams more efficient through the consolidation of systems?
  5. Metrics and Analytics: Will the software assist the user in managing and analyzing donor data?
  6. Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use cases? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?

Donation Management Software Key Features

Below are some of the most critical features that software delivering donor management solutions should have:

Tracking Donation History

Donor management software should help teams track all volunteers, donors, and event attendees in one place. An important feature for monitoring fundraising campaigns and activities of the non-profit is the ability to provide a history of donors.  

Email Marketing

In donation management, communication is vital. Therefore, it is important that you consider if the fundraising software you want will allow for automated email marketing. This can help maintain and improve the donor list and donor retention because your projects remain in the donors’ minds. Also, donors want news about what their donations are being used for.

Reporting and Tracking

It is important to track all your activities to determine areas that are working and those that need improvement. Reports should tell you which campaigns are raising the most money, which campaigns lead to the most engagements, and which donors are donating to each campaign.

The ability to produce automated custom reports is also a feature that allows you to define the report you wish to have and when to get it for quick reviews of trends.

Process Automation

Process automation improves the efficiency of your organization. Some of the features you will find in the leading donation management software include creating personalized emails, receipts, and statements. All this can help to create a positive relationship with the donor community.

Online Donation Portal and Recurring Giving

Software Advice, an online resource for software buyers, carried out a study that showed that 20% of shoppers considered an online donation portal a “must-have” feature for organizations that want donations. Online donation portals allow donors to select how often they make donations and set recurring donations as well. They also allow donors to make donations as they make purchases. 

Event Planning and Project Management

For most non-profit organizations, event management is an inevitable task. Therefore, the right software should allow non-profits and their teams to put their focus where it is required: attracting more donations. They can work with a greater number of donors across different fundraising campaigns and events.

The software should also allow teams to collaborate across campaigns and get an idea of what the workflow looks like. This will ensure that projects are completed within budget and planned timelines. The project management feature also allows team members to get an idea of where each campaign is in the pipeline. 

Overviews of the 10 Best Donor Management Software

Here’s a brief description of each of the donor management software on my list, showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

1. Kindful – Best donor management software for donor relationship building

Screenshot Of Kindful
Kindful keeps track of recent transactions and donations from donors.

Kindful is donor management software that focuses on building relationships with donors. It offers fundraising, donor management, and communication tools. The software also comes with tracking and reporting tools. 

Pricing for Kindful starts at $100 per month.

Pros

  • Excellent and timely customer service
  • Scalable and focuses on helping non-profits grow
  • Supports unlimited donation pages per account with numerous page designs and customization

Cons

  • Takes a while to learn and get around
  • Pricey for small non-profits with inconsistent income
  • Report design options are limited and lack customization

2. Aplos – Best software for donor management accounting 

Screenshot Of Aplos
Track cash balance and net income over time.

Aplos is a software that assists non-profits or churches in getting a grasp on their accounting. Other features provided by the software include donor or member management and communication, automatic tracking of gifts and recurring donations, fundraising tools, and much more.

Pricing for Aplos starts at $59 per month. 

Pros

  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Specifically built to help non-profits or churches manage their accounting
  • Great all-round solutions for donor management

Cons

  • Facility management is not available
  • Uses Gusto, a third-party business, to maintain payroll
  • Not responsive on mobile devices

3. Salesforce for Non-Profit – Best donor management software for non-profits

Screenshot Of Salesforce For Non-Profit
Salesforce for Non-Profit offers a donations dashboard that breaks down donations by month, program, and other metrics.

Salesforce’s Non-Profit Cloud unites constituents and organizations. The software promises to help “build and maintain trusted and lasting relationships with supporters and beneficiaries by delivering the experiences they need in changing times.” 

Salesforce for Non-Profit is designed mainly to cater to the needs of non-profits, educational institutions, and foundations that provide grants. 

Salesforce for Non-Profit pricing starts at $48 per user per month.

Pros

  • Easy to use 
  • Great customer service 
  • Customizable reports that help filter out unwanted data

Cons

  • Too many functionalities make it challenging to get around in the beginning
  • Report generation can take a while
  • Poor integration with mobile platforms

4. Blackbaud – Best donor management software for data and analytics 

Screenshot Of Blackbaud
Record donor information, donation history, and transaction history.

Built by Microsoft Azure, Blackbaud is designed to meet the marketing and fundraising needs of non-profits. It provides excellent insight via its data intelligence.

Blackbaud pricing is available upon request.

Pros

  • Mobile responsive
  • Great with records generation
  • Comprehensive in terms of features

Cons

  • Takes a while to get accustomed to
  • Poor customer support
  • Expensive for small non-profits

5. Donorperfect – Best for donor segmentation and communication 

Screenshot Of DonorPerfect
Donorperfect’s organization dashboard allows users to view donation history, donation by region, donor retention, and more.

Donorperfect is a suitable fundraising solution for non-profits. It provides insight into the drivers of donations, donor segmentation, and communications via personalized emails. Event managers can use its auction management tools to manage silent, live, mobile, and online charity auctions.

Donorperfect pricing starts at $119 CAD per month.

Pros

  • Easy to use and intuitive
  • Allows for customization 
  • Great for tracking donors 

Cons

  • Lackluster report generation
  • Too many upgrades

6. Bloomerang – Best software for donor retention 

Screenshot Of Bloomerang
Bloomerang offers a donation dashboard as well as CRM features such as logging calls with donors.

Bloomerang focuses on retention and engagement solutions. It allows fund transactions and management to be carried out efficiently and on time.

Pricing for Bloomerang starts at $99 per month.

Pros

  • Great user interface
  • Great customer support
  • It is affordable for all sizes of startups and non-profits

Cons

  • Difficult to use when tracking grants from foundations
  • Report customization is limited
  • QuickBooks integration isn’t smooth

7. Salsa Labs – Best software for advocacy and event management 

Screenshot Of Salsa Labs
Get donation and fundraising insights broken down into relevant amounts of time.

Salsa Labs provides solutions for donor management, fundraising, advocacy, events, and marketing automation. Its primary focus is on providing intelligent insights and reports.

Salsa Labs pricing is available upon request.

Pros

  • Unlimited capabilities
  • Great customer support 
  • Relatively easy to learn and use

Cons

  • Scheduling in email setup needs improvement  
  • Easy to lose some contact names when importing contacts 

8. Little Green Light – Best software for simplifying processes

Screenshot Of Little Green Light
Easily search for donors and constituents, track volunteering hours, and measure fundraising totals.

Little Green Light describes itself as “your natural next step to simplify your donor management.” It promises, “With our intuitive fundraising platform, you can consolidate your spreadsheets, letting you see and analyze your data more clearly than ever before.” 

Little Green Light pricing starts at $39 per month.

Pros

  • Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
  • Seamless integration with third-party software
  • Mail and online support

Cons

  • Mobile support is lacking
  • Difficult to manage families 
  • Advanced analytics are complicated

9. Servant Keeper – Best church donor management system

Screenshot Of Servant Keeper
Servant Keeper allows users to track donations and income against monthly budgets.

Servant Keeper is a church management solution by Servant PC Resources. It caters to churches and other faith-based organizations by helping them manage and run their business operations, including tracking member attendance, skills, donations, and pledges.

Servant Keeper pricing starts at $299 for one-time license cost for a small church.

Pros

  • Great customer and technical support 
  • Great customization of reports
  • Seamless integrations with a variety of third-party software

Cons

  • Difficult to use 
  • Setting up groups is a bit taxing
  • Lots of learning material and resources to consume 

 10. Donor Tools – Best volunteer and donor management software 

Screenshot Of Donor Tools
Find and filter donors and volunteers.

Donor Tools offers solutions for donation tracking, massive spreadsheets, data entry, and high volunteer turnover. 

Pricing for Donor Tools starts at $39 per month.

Pros

  • Provides donor history as far back as several years
  • Affordable for small non-profits 
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use

Cons

  • Reports are standard and limited
  • Social integration is not fully supported
  • Email automation is limited

11. Church Community Builder – Best software for facilitating communication 

Screenshot Of Church Community Builder
Church Community Builder allows users to measure and analyze church attendance, donations, and servers.

Church Community Builder reinforces communications amongst church or faith-based organization members. There is a coach solution feature on the platform. 

Church Community Builder pricing starts at $90 per month.

Pros

  • Feature-rich software 
  • Seamless integration with various third-party software
  • Great customer support

Cons

  • Mobile responsiveness is still catching up
  • The learning period takes a while 
  • Recurring events are difficult to schedule

12. Virtuous CRM – Best software for mid-to-large organizations 

Screenshot Of Virtuous CRM
This donation management and CRM software provides users with an at-a-glance look at donor history, financial giving totals, and communication history.

Virtuous CRM is a software that works great for mid-sized to large non-profits. It is responsive on mobile phones, and focuses on building donor relationships. 

Pricing for Virtuous CRM starts at $350 per month.

Pros

  • Excellent customer support via chat and email
  • Finds duplicated data from imported contacts
  • The scoring of donors is based on several criteria

Cons

  • New contact profile creation is cumbersome
  • Difficult contact import tool 
  • Chat and phone support are not so great

Share Your Thoughts about Other Donor Management Software Comparison Options

If you’ve tried any of the above-listed software, please share your experiences and recommendations in the comments section. If your preferred software isn’t listed, please let us know in the comments section, as well as why you prefer it.

Categories
How To

How To Become More Self-aware As a Pastor

Entrepreneur, author and social media icon Gary Vaynerchuk is one self-aware dude. He certainly talks about self-awareness enough. He even calls it your most important attribute. In seemingly everything he does, Vaynerchuk exudes a self-assured confidence.

“Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths,” says Vaynerchuk, who has made millions off of successful businesses and investments.

Self-awareness is easier said than done. How do you become more self-aware? How do you discover your strengths to focus on? The path to self-realization is different for everyone (because everyone is different). But there are a few tips you can use to learn more about yourself.

Ask Yourself

The entire point of self-awareness is educating yourself about yourself. Most of us see this as an insurmountable challenge.

But odds are, you know yourself better than you think. You just need to unlock that hidden knowledge. Open up to you. Here’s how.

  • Be honest with yourself. Lying to other people is bad. Lying to yourself is worse.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? What’s your perception of yourself? Try singing some Michael Jackson to yourself.
  • Talk to yourself alone. Start a conversation with you. It may appear crazy, but it’s a healthy way to talk through issues and verbalize your own thoughts. I do it all the time.
  • Keep a journal. Or a diary, if you prefer. Write down your thoughts. Get it on paper. Create a record of your mind that you can review later.
  • Write a page-long autobiography. We write short bios for each social media account. Expand that to a page. What do you say about yourself?

Ask Others

Ironically, it’s sometimes others who know us better than ourselves. They can see things about our personality and character that escapes our notice.

Take the time to ask these people how they would describe you. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What could you do better? There are dozens of people you can ask.

  • Family. Your spouse. Your parents. Your siblings. Uncle Bob.
  • Friends. Childhood pals. College roommate. Neighbors.
  • Coworkers. Your boss. Your employees. Your clients.
  • Mentors. People who you trust and admire.
  • Strangers. Just kidding.

The most important thing you need to do here is listen. Create a space where these people can be honest with you. Don’t get defensive. Don’t try to justify actions or behavior. Don’t take it personal.

Listen and observe. Find patterns in what people think about you. If there’s something you don’t like about this description of you, find a way to change it. Be a better you.

Ask the Experts

These days, personality tests are a dime a dozen. Buzzfeed will serve up endless quizzes so you can learn what kind of sandwich you are or which piece of IKEA furniture you most closely resemble.

There are a few more serious self-assessments you can take. Even these popular personality tests cannot fully capture your dynamic character. But they can give you a better sense of how you think and how you relate to others

  • Myers-Briggs
  • DiSC Profile
  • Right Path
  • Strengths Finder

I’ve even printed out some of my own test results and posted them in my office. This helps serve as a regular reminder who I am. At the very least, it’s a reminder to be more self-aware.

Ask God

Regardless of what you or anyone else thinks about you, know that God loves you. God loves everyone—self-aware or not. And there are certain truths that God says about each of us.

  • There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:1
  • In all things, God works for the good of those who love him. —Romans 8:28
  • Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:38-39
  • God is for me! Who can be against me? —Romans 8:31
  • But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. —1 Corinthians 6:17
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? —1 Corinthians 6:19

Self-awareness is not about determining self-worth. Our self-worth was set for us by God. Being more self-aware allows us to better succeed in this world. But never let self-awareness jade you.

Always love yourself. Because God does. And he knows you better than anyone.

Categories
How To

How To Communicate With Your Congregation

Every week you probably have a staff meeting at your church. You go over your wins and losses from Sunday, you plan for next week. Maybe you even discuss what other churches are doing and what you can learn from them.

But its always the same old discussion.

There’s never any support for communications and marketing. It always comes back to “there isn’t budget for that,” or “that’s not as important as this.” or “we just can’t afford to hire more people.”

As the Communications person, how are you going to convince this group that your church needs to step up its digital communications strategy, or get more involved in social media?

How are you going to ever get a budget for such things?

I’ve come across it a million times. I encountered it at Mars Hill when I first started. I hear it every day from colleagues and clients. Even the big churches with a lot of followers struggle to put the resources and time and bodies that are needed to have a solid, and effective communications strategy.

So how do you get around this? How do we educate pastors and train up volunteers on the importance of church communications? How do we convince senior leadership to give us the budget we need to promote and grow the church?

When I encounter leaders who don’t want to support church communications, there are two common obstacles I run into the most:

1. We Can’t Measure ROI.

The most common thing I run into is the misconception that it’s hard to measure the return on investment when it comes to church communications efforts, particularly social media.

Leaders at the top are typically focused on results and return. That’s not a bad thing — they’re responsible for a lot of people and a lot of money, millions of dollars in most cases. And for a church, that’s tithe money from your donors and members.Stewarding that well means not wasting it on things that aren’t making a difference. And when you ask for $10,000 to run a Facebook ads campaign, or a billboard, or for new email marketing software, or even an Apple Watch… they don’t immediately see how that’s going to turn into more donors, more people being saved, more seats being filled.

Below I share some tips on how to define your purpose, as well as how to properly use data to help measure ROI.

2. Leaders with Little Digital Experience

The second most common obstacle I’ve encountered is leaders at that level are generally inexperienced with newer technologies and trends.

You’re probably a tech savvy millennial who grew up on Facebook, and now you’re trying to pitch your 60 year old senior pastor on why he should be more engaged on Twitter, how your church needs to reach the kids via SnapChat, or why you need to hire a social media manager and 3 interns to live tweet this Sunday’s sermon.

It’s the last thing on his mind because he doesn’t know what the heck you are talking about.

It’s on you to find a way to educate them. Below I’m going to walk you through five tips that will help you better educate with your pastors about the value of church communications.

5 Tips to Help You Better Communicate the Value of Church Communications

1. Have a strategy and a focus.

Know what you are doing, and cast the vision for why you are doing it. This may seem obvious, but it’s so important.

When you’re pitching someone who doesn’t know a lot about what you are talking about, you’ve got to be able to speak with confidence to earn their trust. Every decision they make is prioritized, and all this cool internet mumbo jumbo just sounds like a waste.

If you’re just wanting to do what every other church is doing because it’s cool, that’s not going to fly well. So get down to the heart of it. Know why you do what you do and how that aligns with the bigger picture.

How are your church communications strategies going to fill seats, get more donors, sell out an event, sell books, and ultimately bring people closer to the Lord? Make sure these align with the goals and vision of the church in general. If you’re all about church planting, then how is your proposed Facebook plan going to plant more churches? Are you going to target church planters via Facebook ads and then engage with them and build relationships with them so you can turn them on to your church and your mission? Layout how you are going to do that.

Using social media as an example. If your senior leaders don’t see the value in it, then find out what they do value and show them how social media can enhance that.

If they value people — loving people well, teaching people about Jesus — then how is your social media strategy going to love people well? Who cares how many followers you have or promise to get, if you don’t know those people and don’t have a plan to engage with them.

Show your pastors that you care about the same vision, you’re just going to use more modern tools to reach them. The people on social media are real people who need Jesus, and the church is in a unique position to learn how to be the best at reaching them.

Show your senior leaders how your church can’t just ignore these people, no more than you can ignore people walking in your front door.

2. Start small and slow, and do it well.

Don’t bombard senior leaders with requests to get on SnapChat, when you aren’t even using Facebook and Twitter well. Focus your strategy like a sniper rifle not a shotgun. Take on one thing at a time and do it well, showing your results before asking for more.

One thing you may want to try is doing a pilot with one ministry or event. It’s usually easier to get in on a ministry or event budget, than it is to get your own line item on the budget for a social media or digital communications.

3. Use Data.

This goes back to the ROI question. Using data is going to help you show that an investment in better church communications is going to pay off. It can also validate and backup what you are talking about.

Using social media as an example again, many of the experts will tell you that social media is still new and we’re still figuring it out. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Your senior pastor may even bring it up when you try to pitch him on the idea of spending more resources on it.

The idea that social media is too new, it’s only kinda true. I’ve found the people who say that are the people who are trying to get social media to do something that maybe it shouldn’t be doing. They’re using it wrong.

We actually know quite a bit about social media. You should know these stats:

  • Facebook has 1.44 billion users. That’s basically everyone.
  • Adults spend about 2.5 hours on social media every day. Every single day.
  • 56% of all American’s have a profile on a social networking site.
  • 31% of seniors use Facebook regularly.
  • 53% of young adults use Instagram and check it daily.
  • 42% of all online women use Pinterest.

These numbers go up every year. To not include social media in your marketing or communications strategy is foolish. What might be even more foolish is to jump in without a strategy or plan behind it.

Think of it this way. Chances are your church is trying to figure out better ways to engage in deeper relationships with the people who walk through your doors. As the communications person, it’s your job to figure out how digital and social strategies can help meet that need. You’ve only got people’s attention on Sunday for about an hour or so. If they’re in a small group, maybe another hour during the week. Well guess what, they’re on Facebook and Twitter almost 3 hours a day! Show your pastors how you can deepen those relationships by interacting with people where they already are. Start by sharing this data with them.

Now here’s the caveat. You’ve probably already bombarded your senior pastor with stats and spreadsheets. Maybe that’s why he’s turned you down. Is he a stats and spreadsheets kinda guy? Probably not. More often than not, preaching pastors are visual and conversational. They aren’t going to read a report or click on the links you send them. Try a different way to reach them. Draw a picture, create a video, demand an in person meeting rather than sending emails.

You also need to look at what are other churches doing and show examples. Use the churches that your senior pastor likes and that are like you. Keep in mind that chances are the bigger churches have a graphics team and content writers coming up with that stuff, so unless you have a team like that don’t compare your church to something you’re not going to be able to do.

Also, don’t just show screenshots of what others are posting to Facebook. Call up the church, ask to speak to the people who run the social media accounts. Take them out for coffee or invite them over to your church. Learn from them and ask how they do what they do and why. Collaborate together and bring what you learn to your leadership team. When you show a screenshot of another church’s Facebook page, you’ll then be able to share the story of how they posted what they did and why, and hopefully the results they saw from it.

Next, find your congregation online and show them off. Another objection you might here is that “relationships happen in person” or “our congregation isn’t online.” It’s 2015. 1.44 billion people are on Facebook. Even your mom tweets.

Take your top donors, your most faithful people who serve, the well known people in your congregation, and find them online. Search for them on Facebook and Twitter and put together a little presentation showing their photo and their posts, proving that these people are online, and that they are sharing more about themselves and their struggles and wins, than they ever would in person.

Like I said, Social Media is a tool to engage real people. It’s not a matter of if people are online, we will be. They are online, you have to be able to show that. Show your leaders that by not being online they aren’t staying relevant, they aren’t doing their best to engage and love on people. The question isn’t if we should be doing this, its how are we going to make it work so that we can.

Going back to our first point though, when you share data you’ve got to have a reason for it and you’ve got to be able to show why the data matters.

Facebook and Twitter have built in analytics that can give you a ton of useful info like followers, likes, comments, reach, etc. There’s a handful of other tools that you can get too. Your website has Google Analytics.

But if your pitch is “give me XX amount of dollars and I’ll increase our Twitter followers from 5000 to 10,000.” Who cares? What good does another 5000 Twitter followers do you if you don’t also follow up with a plan to engage those people and get to know them? Give me a week and I can increase your Twitter followers just by doing some searches and following like minded people. It doesn’t mean I’ll be able to actually communicate well with those people or convert them to church goers or donors. The data is useless without a plan for what to do with it.

4. Utilize and train up volunteers.

Chances are budgets are tight whether your department is getting some of that money or not. In the grand scheme of things, Twitter and billboards, and fun stuff just aren’t going to get the bucks if you don’t have them. There probably aren’t funds to hire some more people. That’s why taking the time to invest in your volunteers is crucial for any size team. If you can show you already have a team in place to help manage things, then you might have a better chance at getting approval for the things you want to try.

Don’t just assign tasks to volunteers. Train them in the same way you’re trying to train your senior leaders and pastors. Convince them of the vision and reason behind what you’re doing. If they can get excited about what they are doing, they’ll be better volunteers.

5. Share stories

People online are real people. Real people have stories. If you’re just pushing out content, you’re advertising. Which is fine, but that means you’re not going to be able to reach people well and build relationships with a strategy that’s only advertisements and promo.

If you’ve got a plan that actually aligns with your church’s plan to love on people well, and bring them closer to Jesus, then you’re going to hear stories. Stories of how unchurched people came to church. Stories of how Jesus is changing lives through your communications.

Share those stories with your senior leadership. Show them its working. Show them stories from other churches who are doing it well. And show your volunteers the results as well. Let them know who they are reaching and how it is making a difference.

Bonus Tip: Get outside help.

An outside consultant can sometimes have better credibility than you with your senior leadership, even if they’re saying the same thing you’ve been saying all along. Someone on the outside can validate what you’ve been saying all along.

Now I know what you’re saying, chances are you’ll never get approval for a consultant if you’re whole goal is getting approval for a communications budget. So tell them your struggles and a good consultant can help you calculate the ROI and will help you show senior leaders how they’ll pay for themselves with the work they provide.

I’ll close with this…

When it comes down to it, you’ve got to convince others that you’re working on the same team as them, not against them, but you’re working for the same goals.

You aren’t competing with other ministries for budget or time and resources, you’re creating new ways to reach new people and engage better with the people you already have so you can love them well and lead more people to Jesus.

The communications managers I talk to who are failing at getting what they need to do their jobs well, are the ones who don’t have a clear vision for why they do what they do, and a clear plan to do it.

The key to convincing leaders to support your church communications plan is aligning it with the church’s vision.

If you can dial that in and convince your pastors and volunteers of it, you’ll get the resources and budget you need.

Reposted from http://www.ministrycommunicators.com/

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Church Planting Advice: 10 Tips From Hillsong’s Brian Houston

If you’re a church planter, or a lead pastor starting a new church plant and looking for church planting advice, make sure you check out these ten tips from Pastor Brian Houston, from Hillsong. He’s the pastor of Hillsong, a network of established churches across the world, with stacks of experience of the challenges facing lead pastors and Christians when starting a new church. 

Even if you’re a Senior Pastor, or church leader of an established church you’ll find this post contains some thought provoking principles for expanding and growing your 

In summary – here’s what this article on church planting advice covers:

  1. You must recognize your grace zone
  2. Cherish the baby steps of the new church plant 
  3. Determine to be ethical and true to yourself
  4. Expand from a position of strength
  5. Be sure you have counted the cost
  6. Pray for the right people, in the right place, at the right time
  7. Not just easy places or nice places, but right places
  8. Avoid the perils of shortcuts, or individuals who promise the world
  9. Value connection and relationships
  10. Church planting can be part of the answer or part of the problem

It was in 1999 when Bobbie and I were given the opportunity to do something — which for us at that time was a bold and innovative step. We were asked to take on the leadership of my parents’ inner-city church in ADDITION to the church we were already pastoring in the Northwest of Sydney — Hillsong Church.

Bold and innovative because although today in 2013 there are countless models of incredible multi-site churches, back in 1999 it was totally new territory in which we knew of few, if any, role models to look to for guidance.

Fourteen years on, our City Campus is an established church, a thriving and integral part of Hillsong Church and along the way we have learned a great deal about multi-site expansion and global evangelism and  church planting; as Hillsong has spread to some of the worlds most influential cities. I am not called to plant churches everywhere, but where we do, my hope and prayer is that we can build significant churches whose impact for the Cause of Jesus Christ spreads far beyond their own walls. When we started Hillsong London many years ago, impact and influence seemed like a far away fantasy –and yet that is exactly what has and is unfolding through a healthy local church congregation in that city.

I’m no expert, but I have been asked many times what are some of the keys to successful expansion, and so here are ten principles for church planting that I have learned on our own journey:

Church planting advice for church leaders

1. You must recognize your grace zone

Church planting is a GRACE and if you stay “within the sphere of the grace God has given you,” His holy spirit, favor and blessing will be on your endeavors. Not every opportunity is a GOD opportunity and I find that people struggle when they don’t recognize this. It is important to stay in your lane and run your own race.

2. Cherish the baby steps of the new church plant

Christian church planting is PIONEERING and that means you have to recognize the old adage that “you can’t run be before you can walk”. The first time I was at one of our ‘Heart and Soul’ nights at Hillsong New York City, the worship team had a mid-song train crash. Perhaps I made them nervous, as apparently it had never happened before, but we had to start the song all over again. That is just one of the examples from some of the great memories that just two years on, we can all look back on and laugh about. 

Since then, the worship team in New York City has taken giant strides forward and even in those early days the services were electric. But just like when your baby starts to walk, those ‘crashes’ are the precious memories in pioneering that we should always cherish, learn from and laugh about.

Even when Hillsong churches have started with great crowds (such as in Cape Town and New York City), it has taken time for leadership to emerge — to find out who really is ‘in it for the long haul’ and for the crowd to become a family who carry the heart and vision of our church.

3. Determine to be ethical and true to yourself

Church planting must be INTEGROUS and though we might all have varying ethics and values, it is important to be true to God, true to ourselves and considerate of others in our approach to church planting. It really is a case of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

For example, when expanding Hillsong Church Australia into Brisbane and Melbourne, we have been very deliberate in our early communications and gatherings, to encourage those from other congregations to stay in their own local church. We gave people opportunity to register their interest in being part of our church online and we have limited our communications to that group of people. The foundations on which we start our churches are critical if we intend to establish healthy and life-giving campuses long-term.

4. Expand from a position of strength

Church planting is CHALLENGING, in fact sometimes starting something new is the easy part. Building and progress depends on momentum. Planting or expanding is an exciting idea, but don’t underestimate the challenge of planting well AND keeping home strong. The extra pressure on your greatest resource can be underestimated and your greatest resource is not facilities or finances — it’s PEOPLE.

Starting another service, opening another campus, or planting another church will test the quantity and quality of your leadership in most areas of church life. Don’t weaken your home base by expanding too quickly. Because weakening your base is not a momentum builder — it’s a momentum stopper. Lost momentum is very difficult to regain and wise church planting is not done prematurely.

5. Be sure you have counted the cost

Church planting is COSTLY and can be very difficult if you are unable to invest sacrificially into the work you are starting. Faith is essential in any new venture and there is no doubt that dependence on God and His miraculous supply is part of the adventure. However, many years of pain and heartache can be avoided if you have counted the cost and sacrificially invested into the new ground you are claiming.

6. Pray for the right people, in the right place, at the right time

Church planting involves LEADERSHIP and it will be more successful when you sow some of your best people into your launch team core group. If you are solving a problem by repositioning someone who is causing frustration, you are only transferring the problem. It is when you give your best that you can expect the best outcome — which is again why planting or expanding should be done from a position of strength and not vulnerability.

7. Not just easy places or nice places, but right places

Church planting is STRATEGIC and for Hillsong that has rarely meant going to the ‘easy’ places. We have prospered by planting in Europe — a continent steeped in church history yet in many respects, so Godless.

When I first spoke at Hillsong Paris, I remembered numbers of conversations where people simply couldn’t get their heads around us preaching about Jesus as someone other than just a historical figure. Today, I love seeing so many young churches beginning to flourish in various European cities. Its easy to think that perhaps ‘Bible belt cities’ would be easier than the heart of Manhattan; but with the right people, in the right place, at the right time, it’s amazing what God can do!

Likewise, when my parents started their ministry in the city of Sydney, it was regarded by some people as a ‘preachers graveyard.’ But that ‘preachers graveyard’ has become home to Hillsong Church — Hillsong College -Conferences and Music; influencing more people than we could have ever have imagined over the last three decades. God is faithful and I believe that the best is still yet to come!

8. Avoid the perils of shortcuts, or individuals who promise the world

Church planting is TEAMWORK, which means building a leadership team and core group who are there for the long haul. My experience is that often the people who promise the most, don’t always come through with the most. Great churches are built with a core group of people who are faithful in the little things. I’d take a group of ordinary people devoted to an extraordinary God, over a charismatic someone that talks a big game, but hasn’t proven faithful in the ‘day of small beginnings’.

We have had some amazing miracles with land and buildings in our history, but we have also said no to numbers of opportunities and partnerships because there were ‘strings attached’. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

9. Value connection and relationships

Church planting is LONELY, and many a church planter has perished through isolation.

Proverbs 18:1 says, “The man who isolates himself is not wise” and if you disregard your friendships and relationships when planting churches, your world can get small very quickly. Perhaps you can start churches anywhere, but wisdom is sensitive to relationships — while still refusing to be ruled by the insecurities of others.

Our mandate is “to champion the cause of local churches everywhere”, and the greatest way we can do that is exemplifying what God can do, by partnering and being in good relationship with other churches in our city, and without building on other people’s foundations.

10. Church planting can be part of the answer or part of the problem

Church planting is TRENDY and in the twenty first century, technology and opportunity enable us to expand in ways that were unthinkable to generations past. Does the world need more churches? The short answer is yes, but the world doesn’t need more mediocre churches. The world needs healthy and vibrant churches that are genuinely fulfilling the Great Commission in their cities, towns, villages and nations. Churches that are filled with life, worship, biblical teaching and healthy, accepting community — churches that point people to JESUS. Evangelism, and discipleship matters as we fulfill the Great Comission.

I pray that together, we can ‘champion the cause of local churches everywhere,’ and stay committed to the building of what Jesus Christ said He would build — His Church!

This post was originally posted on Medium: https://medium.com/the-mission/10-principles-of-planting-and-expanding-through-the-lens-of-a-pastor-66edd39e8f03

What do you think?

What church planting advice do you have? What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t? Let us know if the comments below, and come and join our Lead Pastor Community to lead, and help others lead better.