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Choosing the right church management software (ChMS) seems like a leap of faith, but with a lot more Googling. There are dozens of church management system features to consider, and more software providers are always joining the ChMS market!

Yep. It's true: it’s never been harder to pick church management software that fits you and your church leadership team.

No worries, though, because my team and I have done some serious heavy lifting for you. Today, we'll explore the features all industry-leading ChMS tools share in common. We'll especially focus on those that are essential to enabling and increasing church leadership effectiveness.

The world of ChMS features can be overwhelming... but I've got your back. You've got a friend in me.

So...What IS Church Management Software?

Church management software automates and streamlines many of church leaders' most administratively intensive tasks.

Author's Tip

Author's Tip

As an aside: I’ve written a deep-dive article exploring church management more thoroughly. You may find it helpful if you want a better grasp of the fundamentals.

Simply put, the right ChMS features need to make it easier for you to win at work.

Here are a handful of ChMS recommendations for you, each with a general comment about which circumstance it's best suited for:

Ten Features Your Church Management System Needs

Church leaders are some of the busiest on the planet, always juggling various priorities simultaneously. As a pastor, your responsibilities are widespread; the church management software your church deploys must support you in a wide variety of ways:

  • Reduce your day-to-day administrative load
  • Cut down on your managerial tasks
  • Decrease time spent on manual data entry
  • Improve data-gathering and provide accurate reports

The very best church management software programs share similar core features:

1. Member Management

Managing member information can be overwhelming. This feature allows you to easily track member information and attendance (online member records). Your church members can also update their contact details and personal info in one place. Most ChMS also allow you to segment your members into groups for better communication. Simplify member tracking and enhance communication with easy-to-use member management tools.

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2. Church Communication

Keeping your congregation informed can be challenging. With church communication, you can send emails, texts, and church newsletters directly from the software. You can schedule messages for future dates and times. You can also track open and response rates to improve engagement and streamline communications with your church members.

3. Event Management

Coordinating church events can be time-consuming. Event management is a cornerstone of ChMS tools. You and your staff can create and promote church events with ease. Management of event registrations and payment processing happens online. Then, generate attendee lists and check-in members seamlessly. Simplify event coordination and enhance participation with efficient event management.

4. Online Giving

Handling donations can be a hassle. Enable members to give tithes and offerings online. Track donations and generate giving statements. Set up recurring donation options for consistent, predictable support. Make giving easier and more consistent with online giving features.

5. Volunteer Management

Organizing volunteers can be complex. Organize and schedule volunteers for various roles. Send reminders and updates to keep volunteers informed. Track volunteer hours and recognize their contributions. Streamline volunteer coordination and ensure everyone stays informed.

6. Child Check-In

Ensuring child safety during church events is crucial. Ensure a secure and streamlined check-in process for children. Print name tags and guardian receipts instantly. Track attendance and allergies or special needs. Enhance child safety and simplify check-ins with efficient child check-in processes.

7. Reporting and Analytics

Understanding church metrics can be daunting. Choosing the RIGHT church metrics is even more so. A church management system will allow you to generate detailed reports on attendance, giving, and more. Customize reports to suit your church’s needs. Use church metrics to make informed decisions and plan better. Gain valuable insights and improve decision-making with comprehensive reporting and analytics.

8. Financial Management

Managing church finances is complex - but a ChMS allows you to manage budgets, expenses, and income in one place. Track financial transactions and generate financial reports. Integrate your ChMS with your accounting software for streamlined processes. 

9. Mobile App

Staying connected to the church while on the go can be difficult for members, staff, and volunteers. A ChMS mobile app is a vital feature. Volunteers can quickly log in and find when they’re next scheduled to serve. Leaders can easily check in to reference member information and manage events, giving, and attendance - all from their phones.

10. Integration Capabilities

Using multiple tools can be inefficient. Sync with other tools like email platforms and social media. Import and export data easily between systems. Use APIs to connect with custom applications. Enhance efficiency and streamline operations with seamless integration capabilities.

How To Determine Most Useful Features For Your Own Church

Your church size and primary growth goals should be considered as you evaluate which weighting to give the various features. Here are a few things to consider as you make your choice:

Church SizeFeatures to Prioritize
Under 100 membersBasic member management, simple financial tracking, essential communication tools
100–500 membersEvent management, advanced reporting, online giving options, child check-in systems
500+ membersIntegration capabilities, volunteer management, mobile app functionality, comprehensive reporting
Growth GoalsFeatures to Prioritize
OutreachCommunication tools, event management, online giving
Member EngagementMember management, volunteer coordination, reporting

Three Things to Remember:

  1. Find church management system features that closely matches your specific needs, and avoid choosing based on flashy or innovative tools alone.
  2. Use free trials! Know exactly what you're getting before purchasing. Keep an eye out for features that may be wasted on your organization.
  3. Don't rush into a new church management system. Ensure it feels right for your organization. Expect some snags along the way, but remember: if setup takes too long, the software isn’t doing its job.

What’s Next?

If you're ready to start evaluating the right software for your team, check out our picks for the best church management software. Our team has thoroughly vetted and ranked the best ChMS tools on the market today. 

More Practical Advice Worth Checking Out

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Joshua Gordon
By Joshua Gordon

Joshua Gordon is a lay-pastor, author, and editor of Over the last two decades, Josh has worked closely with pastors and other christian leaders, helping them to sharpen and elevate their messages. Today, Joshua pastors at New Life Fellowship, a thriving church he helped plant in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.