Categories
How To

Worship Team Auditions: Step-by-Step Process + Templates

I think most of us at some point may have experienced this:

You’re the worship pastor, the worship leader, the music minister, and you have some people on your team that can’t cut it. Their musicality is not great, they show up unpracticed and late, and yet somehow they have managed time to stop and grab a Starbucks. Their attitudes drain the life out of practice time, and they just don’t seem to take instruction or work with a team very well.

How did we get here? Either we inherited this worship team mess or we created this mess ourselves. None the less, it’s time for auditions!

In this article I will cover:

I’ll also include some templates in a downloadable pack to make the process easier.

The most important thing to remember about auditions is this: it’s always easier to add a member to the team than to take them off. Thankfully, God hasn’t required us to use a specific instrument or vocal part in praising him, so we shouldn’t feel any pressure to add a drummer, guitarist, pianist, or alto ASAP to the worship band.

Auditions will certainly look different depending on the size of the church, the skill level of the current musicians, and the discernment of the leader. 

New Church Or Church Plant Auditions

For a new church, I’d recommend a more casual audition process. 

  • You could invite any musicians who are interested over to your house to play and sing on a regular basis. This way you can see how well they play, get to know them, and their character without any expectation of being included on a Sunday morning. 
  • While the standards may be lower in a new or smaller church auditions, I’d make sure that everyone is skilled enough not to be a distraction. 
  • Finally, look for people who are eager to support your leadership, not people who feel they need to display their gifts. Remember that pride on the team will only cause problems later, and it’s a contradiction to our intentions to bring glory to God, not ourselves.

Below is an outline of how you can run an audition in an established church.

Before The Audition

Here are some things you need to do at least a couple weeks before the audition. You want to make sure you are prepared before audition day arrives.

1. Select A Date And Time For Auditions

The whole audition may take a couple hours. This depends on how many musicians have signed up. It usually takes 10 to 15 minutes to audition one person, so if you have 5 people sign up, you’re looking at about an hour to an hour and a half with transition times.

2. Create A Way For People To Sign Up

An easy option is Google Forms. It’s a free service that Google offers where you can make a signup form and include all the questions you want people to answer before the audition.

If a good old piece of paper is easier for you, then go for it! Get that table set up in the church lobby and have people sign up.

Musicians could also email the worship pastor to sign up for the audition.

Instead of specifying what instrument(s) you are looking for, you may want to just hold an “open audition”. You never know who might walk through that door!

Worship Team Audition Signup Sheet Template

I’ve made an example of a worship team audition signup sheet, which you can download in the pack at the end of this article.

Download Template Here

3. Communicate With People Before The Audition

Email everyone who signed up to let them know when and where the audition will be and what they can expect to happen. People will want to be as prepared as possible, which is awesome. You may want to send the music ahead of time as well. With this email you can also add another form for the potential team member to fill in. This form will give you a bit more information about the person, their desires with worship, and some of their musical history.

Sample Worship Team Audition Email Template

 You can download an example of the email I usually send in the pack at the bottom of this article—copy and adapt for your auditions.

Download Template Here

 Worship Team Audition Info Sheet Template

You can include these info sheets in your email to collect additional information from people who are auditioning for your worship team. Get the download in the pack at the bottom of this article.

Download Template Here

4. Assemble An Audition Panel

An audition panel is one of the things that will separate a formal audition from just listening to someone play. It’s probably best to have three or five people on the audition panel (preferably an uneven number). Your audition panel should be other worship team members, like worship leaders, vocalists, or instrumentalists who are either on your team or others you know and trust. You don’t want the decision to lay only in your hands. There is safety in numbers, especially when it comes to having someone fail an audition and you need to communicate that with them. 

Day Of Audition

The day of the audition is finally here. Here are some ideas on what to do the day of the audition.

Auditioning Singers

  • Ask them to come with voices warmed up and ready to sing.
  • Have them sing a well-known worship song that you will pick for them.
  • Take some time to figure out their vocal range and decide on the best key for them. Make sure it’s a key they feel comfortable and confident in.
  • Be on stage playing the song during the audition, and callout different parts of the song to see how they flow with the music.
  • Ask them to sing a spontaneous song or even a bible verse over a chord progression of your choosing. This can test their ear and their flow as a singer.
  • If there are any weaknesses or mistakes, kindly point them out and have them play the song through again, and see if there are any improvements.
  • Encourage them with the strengths you saw in them after the audition.

Auditioning Musicians

  • Give them a few minutes to get their gear setup and prepared, whether this is an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drum kit, or another instrument.
  • Lead them through a well-known worship song, watching that they confidently follow the chord charts and make smooth transitions.
  • Have them play the song in different keys, transposing in their heads.
  • Have them play lead-line melodies or a spontaneous song.
  • If there are any weaknesses or mistakes, kindly point them out and have them play the song through again, and see if there are any improvements.
  • Encourage them with the strengths you saw in them after the audition.

When auditioning a potential team member for the worship team, remember that you’re not only looking for technical ability, you’re also looking at their musicianship. Pay attention to how it felt playing with them. Was it smooth sailing or did it seem like they were struggling or fighting the flow of the music?

It is better for your worship team to consist of you and a keyboard player than a worship team full of musicians that can’t play or worse off, don’t care. I am quite happy to have a smaller worship team that is tight than a huge team that doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s ok to build your team slowly over time. 

Make sure that you and your audition panel have a plan figured out. Try to establish exactly what you are looking for, and the type of standards you are expecting. Are you looking only for perfect pitch and tone? If they make a mistake, are they out? It’s best not to be too picky, but you also don’t want to be too lenient either. 

Worship Team Audition Scoring Sheet Template

This is a really useful sheet you and your panel can use to score the auditions. Download this and the other audition materials below.

Download Template Here

After The Audition

The auditions may be done, but the tough work is just beginning. Here is what you should do after the auditions.

1. Confer With Your Panel

Chat with the panel immediately after the auditions, assessing each person’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that honours their audition.

2. Send An Email With Your Decision

When you and the other leaders have figured out results, send an email letting people know the results within 3-5 days of their audition. One of the best ways we can honor those who audition is by following up in a clear and timely manner.

The email can be simple but should include: encouragement on their audition, whether or not they passed the audition, and the next steps in the process.

Remember that sometimes instead of “no” we can respond with “not yet”. Are there some tips you can send them? Perhaps it’s a suggestion of lessons? If the musician does put in that work you have suggested, this shows not only that they are teachable, but willing to put in the work and effort.

If you feel that they will be better suited for another ministry instead, suggest that to them as well.

Worship Team Audition Templates

Download all the templates mentioned in this article here:

Conclusion

It may sound cliché to say, but prayer is also a big part of this audition process. Ask the Lord to direct you in this decision process as well. As worship pastors it’s our mission to not just lead our worship ministry well, but to lead the worship team in submission to the Holy Spirit. He will be your best friend when it comes to building your worship team.

I have had incredible musicians audition, but after praying I had a sense from the Holy Spirit that it wouldn’t be a good fit. Later on, things came out that confirmed this decision. Going through the worship team audition process gives time for both you and that musician auditioning to get a feel for whether this is really going to work.

In the end it’s important to emphasize that musical skill is not the most important thing. Character and skill must go hand in hand when finding a team member.

For more on worship teams and church planting, sign up for The Lead Pastor community here!

Other Worship Team Audition Resources

Read about Bethel Church’s worship audition process.

See an example of a worship audition application from Elevation.

Check out Hillsong’s great article on building a worship team.

Categories
Insights

Planting A New Church

I am a church planter—not just because I have planted churches, but because I believe in church planting. It is God’s design to grow His church on the earth. Church planting advances the Kingdom of God by taking the light into the darkness. It involves going to people and places that need to experience the love and power of God through Jesus Christ.

What makes church planters is not so much the act of planting churches or a trail of church plants, but the deepest conviction that church planting is God’s intended way to win the lost, to pastor and disciple those who believe, to train and equip the army of God, and to activate and send the Body of Christ into the world to plant more churches.

Things To Consider When Planting A New Church

If you’re planning to plant and pastor a new church, then here is a short list of things you need to consider before you set out.

  • Who are you trying to reach? Where do they live? How do you plan to reach them?
  • Will you need to do language studies before you start? Will vocational or professional training come first? Have you had any cross-cultural experience?
  • Are there any churches in the area already? Do you know their story? Are you planning to build a relationship with them before you start? 
  • What’s the budget for your church plant? 
  • When will you begin? Who needs to know? How will you communicate it?
  • What style of community church and worship service will you have? 
  • Do you have team members? Do you have a plan for developing launch team members? Do the launch team members know what will be expected of them? Who will lead the team?
  • What kind of support can you expect from other churches and church leaders, such as within your denomination, movement, church network, community church, house church, cell group? What kind of accountability do those partners expect?
  • Have you set clear goals? Have you set a timeframe for reaching them?
  • Are you and your spouse in agreement on planting a church? How will the church plant affect your family? 

Clearly, this list is not exhaustive, but includes some topics church planters, lead pastors, and launch team members need to carefully consider. Though there are various schools of thought about specific details of how to plant churches, these same questions are valuable.

Related Read: Recognizing Problems That Arise In Church Planting

Before we go further in talking about church plants, though, it might be helpful to have a shared definition of what I mean by churches. 

What Do We Mean When We Talk About “Churches”?

I always go back to God’s word when there is a question about our understanding of such things. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about churches and church planting. 

The Idea Of Vine & Branches

In John 15:5, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus was speaking about things to come, explaining that He was the source of all that His Father in heaven would do on the earth; if they continued to follow Jesus in everything pertaining to their life and work, they would see the results of His work through them. 

But what does the concept of vine and branches have to do with churches and church planting? 

Well, for a start, there is only one vine—not many vines, but only one. Jesus was not referring to denominations, movements, or what we call churches (of which there are many), but to himself: 

The Son of God, sent by the Father, full of the Holy Spirit, to die for the sins of the world, to be raised from the dead, to send the Holy Spirit once ascended so that his work on earth would continue through his Body, the Church! What there are “many of” is branches. One vine, many branches. Simple, right? (I wish!) 

Let me explain further: Since there is only one vine, there is only one Church. If we are talking about planting new churches, then we must talk about something that is not separate from or additional to the one true and living Church, that is Christ’s.

Planting A New Church Is About People

Planting a new church is actually bringing about church growth. We are not starting something “new” as if it doesn’t already exist. And to be clear, since Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. People, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. People, born-again, Spirit-filled. People, called by name, set apart, consecrated, Spirit-gifted, mantled with the destiny and purpose of God, to advance His Kingdom throughout the earth! People. 

As pastors and church leaders you will need buildings for the church to meet in, and equipment to facilitate the ministry—that is, running programs, holding worship services, having meetings—but none of these things together or separately are the Church. The Church is the people. 

Don’t forget this, and if you truly believe it, then as you plant churches, keep restating what you believe with your life, for the rest of your life!

A Story About “Going” To Church

For a long time, a small group met in our house week after week, year after year, every Saturday night. Those were some rich times of ministry for my wife and for me. 

Over the years, different people came, some to stay, some just passing through. One man who was a “regular” would be among the first to stand up at the end of each evening and say, 

“Well, I gotta go now ‘cause I gotta go to church in the morning.” 

As he moved to leave, I would meet him at the door and say, “Just remember, you can’t go to church, you can only be the Church!” He and I would laugh before we blessed each other and said goodbye. 

This went on for some time until one night he got up in his usual manner, saying what he always said, but before I could answer he laughed and said, 

“Yes, yes, I know, ‘You can’t go to church, you can only be the Church’. 

As warmly as I knew how, I responded by saying, “No you don’t know, because when you do know something that God has revealed to you, it changes the way you talk and the way you act. It’s called, my friend, ‘transformation’.” 

You can’t go to church because the church is not a physical address or a building on the corner of a city street. It is not a worship service, meeting, or program. The Church is God’s people. This is the truth. 

My Story Of Planting A New Church

Years ago, when I set out as lead pastor to plant and pastor my first church, the District Superintendent of the denomination that I was with said, “We are sending you to another city to ‘organize’ as a new church.” It was his way of explaining a church plant. 

He was right—it took a lot of organizing as well as personal effort to plant that church from scratch! 

From the time we “went public”, there was no turning back: No Sundays off, no excuses for not delivering weekly sermons and Bible studies, meeting with the launch team, counselling church members, doing weddings and funerals, worship service preparation, etc. Planning, scheduling, organizing? You bet! But all that activity, and all my performance did not create or sustain His Church. Organize a church into being? I think not. 

What you end up with is a Christianized organization with its members and regular activities. What is needed—what every church planter and launch team needs—is a revelation of Christ’s Church by the Spirit of God, preferably before stepping out to plant a new church.

What we say or how we talk so often expresses what we think. When our thinking changes, then how we talk changes, too. If information is meant to inform, then a revelation of the Spirit is meant to transform. Jesus was not trying to inform his disciples with regard to His Church, He was imparting a revelation to them. Later, on the day of Pentecost when the disciples received the Holy Spirit, their transformed minds understood things that they could only know by the Spirit. 

As a consequence, they talked differently—no longer confused and scared by Jesus’ bewildering departure, but clear-minded and emboldened by an infusion of the Spirit of God. Peter’s response to the gobsmacked crowd that day would mark the beginning of a transformation that continued in many others who repented, believed, and followed Jesus. 

One Church, One Church Planter

So what’s my point? The point is that it is actually wrong to think that you can plant something that already exists. As Jesus explained, just as there is only one true vine, there is only one true Church. And there is only one Church planter! He said, “My Father is the gardener,” and He has planted His Church through His Son by the Holy Spirit. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus’ Church already exists and will prevail on earth until the Lord, Himself, returns. 

This brings us back to our definition. Church planting (“new” implied), is really about the Church being fruitful. 

There is no new vine to be planted, there are just branches to be grown. The growth is the Lord’s work in us and through us. He causes us to bear fruit, rather than we make ourselves fruitful (or productive) in his name. 

When God works through us in marvelous and miraculous ways, then He gets the glory and the testimony belongs to Him, rather than to man. Remember, as the scripture says, we are all, “like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The house is God’s work. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). 

And so, when it comes to church planting:

  • The planting is God’s
  • The building is God’s
  • Even our ability to bear fruit is His!

When we understand this by a revelation of the Spirit, then our transformed heart and mind come into alignment with the heart and mind of God. 

Without this kind of alignment, any new work that a man or woman begins will end up being more about their good intentions—and falsely founded on the idea that they are starting a new church. Truly God wants His Church to grow; however, we must carry a revelation of His Church in our hearts and minds in order to remain in Jesus as we step out to do His work. All church growth depends upon this, as apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5). 

So what we really mean when we talk about planting new churches is adding branches to the true vine that will, hopefully, bear much fruit. But adding a new branch is not like building an extension onto your house. 

The only way this kind of branch is added to the vine is when an individual repents, believes in Jesus, and follows Him. It is the individual, not a community church, that is added to Jesus. The new believer, then, becomes another branch in the living vine, with great fruit-bearing potential. 

This is key to pastors and church leaders understanding what is “new” about church planting: It is not about the nation or the city or the town you go to. Nor is it about the building or equipment or programs or worship services you run in your church plants. 

It is, ultimately, about each individual you reach with the gospel who gives their life to Jesus and is born again by the Spirit of God. A dead stone that is now living! That is what makes things new. 

But?

But what about the re-grouping, re-branding, re-packaging of the saints? 

What about lead pastors discipling those who are already “in Christ”? 

What about training and equipping, activating and sending? 

These are all good, necessary and important, but this is not new church planting, but rather shepherding believers to maturity. 

The chafing point in this is that we can work hard and spend huge amounts of resources caring for and being pastors to those who already believe in Christ, yet never see them become fruit-bearers in advancing the Kingdom! In fact, we might dare to conclude that the fruitfulness of the Body of Christ when it comes to church growth is a measure of our own ministry. And the cutting edge of the Church will always be in reaching the lost with the gospel of God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ—in one word: evangelism. 

Our challenge is to do both well, that is, to pastor the Church in such a way that they are activated and sent out as “fishers of men”. Any other reason for church planting suggests we’ve failed to understand the apostolic and prophetic foundations of the Church (Ephesians 2:20). 

Advice for would-be church planters? In the words of Ed Stetzer, “Don’t let your church be a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway.”

Categories
How To

How To Create Worship Team Guidelines [Examples & Template]

You’re probably here because you need to create or update your own worship team guidelines.  We’ve got you covered. In this post, we’re going to provide an overview of:

Not sure if you need all this? Well let me share a story – and let me know if it sounds familiar. 

‘James’ wants to join the worship team—but is he a good fit? You kind of know James, you have seen him around the church, seems like a nice fellow. You take James for coffee and realize his expectations of being on a worship team are a lot different than yours. 

Perhaps James played the guitar as a teenager, he thinks he can play, and likes the idea of playing again with others. But does James really understand what it means to be part of the worship team and the expectations of being on the team? Does he know the importance of rehearsals at church and at home? 

If only we had all this written somewhere—a document that outlined everything needed and expected from a member of the worship team! We do. Enter one of the best tools for Worship Ministry Leaders, the Worship Team Guidelines.

So keep reading to learn more about worship team guidelines and get set for a smoother worship team management with your own guidelines for your worship services, worship team and worship ministry.

What Are Worship Team Guidelines?

I hope by now we’ve explained it but, simply put, worship team guidelines are a clear code of conduct outlining the vision, values, expectations and responsibilities of being part of the worship team or music ministry. 

Sometimes they’re called a worship team code of conduct – and they’re exactly that. They make sure there’s clarity and everyone has a shared understanding of the expectations of joining and being part of the worship team.

Why Worship Teams Need Guidelines

Worship team guidelines enable us to communicate clearly to the team members what is expected of them. 

So back to our friend James. Why do we need guidelines? Let me explain. 

The guidelines are an easy tool to help guide and develop a worship team. It’s a clear communication tool where everyone can be on the same page, thus being able to focus on the main thing, which is leading worship and to lead others into worship!

If we don’t have guidelines, we begin to rely on assumptions. I don’t want James to just assume that he can play whenever he feels like playing, or have him just showing up on a Sunday without attending rehearsals. I also want James to understand that he needs to be proficient in his playing. 

I want others like James to have a well-defined understanding of what is expected of him and what he can expect from being on the team. 

If we are not clear, it may result in awkward conversations for worship pastors, hurt feelings, and frustrations.

What To Include In Your Worship Team Guidelines

Here are some topics you could consider including in your worship team guidelines. 

How Does Someone Become Part Of The Worship Ministry?

This is a great time to clearly outline the process for joining a team. 

Being on the worship team is a privilege, and a blessing. It’s not something to be taken lightly. Which is why when we communicate to our friends, like James. We want them to understand that this is something to be taken seriously.

Yes, being members of the worship team is fun and rewarding, but it’s also hard work, so it’s important to see that people are committed, not only to the church, but going through the process to be considered for the worship team.  

  • Are team members expected to be members of your church?
  • Do they need to attend a small group or church bible study? 
  • Do they need to be attending the church for a certain number of months or years? 
  • Is there a membership course they need to complete?  
  • Do they need to show that they can proficiently play or sing?

It’s important to set the expectations clearly on how to join the team. It also might be worth having a worship team application form to make these expectations clear. You can find a great example from the Bethel Worship Team.

What Is Expected Of A Team Member?

Personal Standards

This is a great place to highlight the importance of the personal walk with God. I would also say that this is probably #1. It’s also important to regularly encourage your worship team in this area. Challenge them on their own personal worship, what does that look like for them? 

Remember, first and foremost, all members of the worship team are worship leaders, they are  not just playing music or putting on a performance. This must remain at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Be clear about this expectation before asking volunteers to commit. 

It’s important to remind the team members that our Sunday worship is our overflow from worshiping during the week. Our own personal worship at home with God is so important before coming and leading others. 

This can also be a great place to address aspects such as: 

  • Attitude problems
  • Gossip/slander amongst the team
  • Submitting to leadership

Skills & Responsibilities 

Although we recognize the importance of a pure heart, the musicians and vocalists also need to have enough skill so that they can follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Here we should emphasize the importance of practice and preparation. 

All of the praise team should have open hearts to receive advice, correction, and training, and should be committed to becoming proficiently skilled at their ministry. 

Of course, one does not need to be a professional musician to worship the Lord, but we know that God honors the discipline of additional practice and preparation. 

Musicians not only have a responsibility to craft their skill, but to also take responsibility for themselves. Have they brought all their proper equipment and cords?  Have they learned their arrangement properly? 

It’s important to emphasize the importance of their personal responsibilities so that they are prepared and ready for rehearsals and ready to support the worship leader.

Rehearsals

It’s important to clearly outline the expectations of rehearsals and weekly practices. Not only the importance of regular attendance at rehearsals, but also your expectations for their rehearsals at home. 

  • Do you expect the team member to arrive with music memorized? 
  • Is sheet music or chord charts allowed? 
  • Is punctuality important?  
  • If they skip the rehearsal during the week, are they allowed to play on Sunday morning? 
  • Are rehearsals more than doing a run through of the set list,  do you learn a new song, read some scripture from the Bible and pray as well? 
  • What time do they need to be available for sound checks?

Be prepared to make this section of your guidebook clear. If rehearsals are an important part of your Sunday morning preparation, you want to make sure all team members understand the importance of attending them on a regular basis.

It’s also important to highlight how often they should be expected to play. A typical expectation for team members is to play once every three weeks.

Dress Code

Remember that dress codes will vary depending on the culture of your church. Here are some possible ideas for your dress code. 

General Dress Code: Modesty & dressy, culturally relevant style are key.

  • No overly tight clothing.
  • No sleeveless tops (without a covering).
  • No revealing clothing (i.e. see-thru material without undershirt, short skirts)
  • Proper clean footwear
  • Maintain Personal Hygiene ie: Wear deodorant

Technology & Software 

This will also vary depending on what your church does. Is the musician or singer expected to bring their own laptop or iPad? Will they need to have their own in ear monitors (IEMs)? If IEM’s are expected, we usually like to give our musicians a few options if they need to purchase some. IEM’s can range from expensive, to more affordable.

Communication 

It’s important to highlight how communication will be sent to the team. Who will be sending out the setlists? Communicate if you are using PlanningCenter or Elvanto for scheduling and setlists.

Explain the process about how to switch or cancel a shift and make it clear. The last thing you want to do is show up to a rehearsal and find out only then that you have no drummer available for Sunday.

Other Things To Add To Your Worship Team Guidelines

  • Worship team mission statement
  • Worship team vision 
  • Church beliefs
  • Tips for stage presence 
  • Time commitment

Worship Team Guidelines Example

Below we’ve provided you with a simple example of a full set of worship team guidelines. You’ll find it helpful to understand the context of these guidelines so you can adapt them for your own use. 

Worship Team Guideline Example 1 Screenshot
Worship Team Guideline Example 2 Screenshot
Here is what a typical worship team guidelines document might look like.

Other Worship Team Guideline Examples

Below are some great examples of worship team guidelines. 

If you are needing some more inspiration on what else can be added to your worship team guidelines, check out the resources below:

  • Bethel Worship has some great articles on worship. 
  • Gateway Worship has a resource library where you can log in to review their worship handbook. 
  • Hillsong has a great example of their statement of beliefs. 

Worship Team Guidelines Template

Want to fast-track the process of creating your own worship team guidelines? Download our easily customizable below.

Conclusion

Remember that we also lead out of grace too; the praise team are like family members. Worship team guidelines are just that, a guiding tool. There may be times when a team member will make a mistake or have a misunderstanding. The important thing is to keep guiding them with love and grace, as we all strive to become more and more like Christ.

For more on worship teams, read about worship team training and worship team auditions.

Categories
Insights

What Every Lead Pastor Needs to Know About Church Metrics

There isn’t a church planter or lead pastor who doesn’t care about success. Some may not admit this, fearing that might seem “unspiritual” to others. However, the desire for success in ministry is a common driving force.

Of course there are acceptable ways of talking about success. For instance, we talk about church growth all the time. Whether through winning people for Christ and discipleship of new converts or attracting existing believers to a church plant that seems new and fresh, growing churches is what it is all about. But which church metrics do we use to evaluate success? What kind of church data and tool can determine if we have met our goals?

In this post we’re going to provide an overview of church metrics and discuss their use (and misuse):

Keep reading to learn why and how to set church metrics that matter. 

Popular Metrics Church Leaders Use To Evaluate Success

Within churches, growth is often publicly shared and showcased through testimonies: Acts of miraculous faith, servanthood, irrational generosity, fruitfulness, and transformed lives, of course, are the markers of a person’s walk with Jesus. 

Yet shoptalk between pastors most often reflects a numbers game. Some of the most commonly sought after and tracked  church data includes :

  • Attenders and attendance 
  • Membership rolls
  • Salvations 
  • Salvation follow-ups 
  • Baptisms
  • Tithes and giving 
  • Discipleship
  • Outreach programs
  • Small group numbers
  • Staffing numbers
  • Volunteers 
  • Team members

The list of church metrics goes on, from the rational (number of cars in the parking lot) to the slightly more obscure.

Back in the 80s, the senior pastor who I was serving at the time carefully tracked how many cassette tapes (remember those?) of his message were purchased each week. For him, success was measured through tape sales!

Tools You Can Use To Track Church Data

If these are the church metrics that matter to you, you can find a whole slew of tools and church management software that’ll help you set goals and track your metrics. The advantage of chms software is that it allows you to spend less time managing the data, and more time developing insights so you can make better decisions. 

For many church plants, and church leaders with rapidly changing congregations, understanding what’s happening in your church can be very valuable. With a host of free tools available, including Church Metrics from life.church, you can simply use an iPad and their iOS app (also available as a mobile app on Android) to very quickly get a much richer understanding of what’s happening in your church. 

Below is a list of some other church management software with metrics functionality:

  1. Wild Apricot 
  2. Elvanto 
  3. Breeze 
  4. Chmeetings 
  5. TouchPoint 

But before you go and check out the pricing and functionality for those tools, read on friend. 

Measuring success: a numbers game

There is nothing intrinsically unspiritual with counting numbers. Or should I say, there is neither anything spiritual nor unspiritual about analyzing and evaluating performance in relationship to established goals. The science of statistics is used worldwide to track everything from sports to world pandemics in real time. And now, with the help of social media, measuring popularity and success has soared to a new level. 

Whether you are selling merchandise, raising money through crowdfunding, building a YouTube channel, or preaching the gospel, knowing who you are aiming to reach, whether you have reached them, and their response to your message, is vital. 

You want to reach the world for Christ, right? As a pastor, you probably meet the group you pastor at least once a week. In the past (that is, pre-COVID), people typically gathered at service times. Since last year, many Sunday services are now live-streamed, which has changed everything. 

People who would normally “go to church” can stay home; but now anybody who has access to the internet and a link to your livestream can join in, too! As a pastor you’re wondering:

  • Who are these people?
  • How is the outreach of your service affecting or influencing them? 
  • What decisions and actions are they taking because of it?

Perhaps these are the same questions pastors have always asked; but now, with the help of the internet, your potential to reach people has increased exponentially. 

Sure, we have had television evangelists and Christian programming for some time, but broadcasting has become both affordable and accessible to almost every local church around the world. All of a sudden, there is a real chance for you to make a connection—a touchpoint—with more people than you ever were able to before!

Why Measurement Matters

But back to the numbers game. Putting aside important discussion about KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) we need to measure our performance. 

Of course, fear of criticism (and goodness knows, pastors get enough criticism!) can keep you from inviting any kind of feedback. But without a means of measuring performance there is no credible way of knowing, this side of heaven, if your ministry is effective. 

Mind you, as I have already said, if you have no clear, well-defined goals to begin with then you really won’t have anything to measure. With no results to measure, then the value of doing (programs, services, and events) is justified by the work you do (time, effort, and resources), rather than the results it brings.

For now, assuming that you have some clear goals in place, some form of measurement is not only helpful, but essential. Effective ministry is the result of clearly articulated goals, strategic planning, activation and empowerment, and then honest evaluation. What makes this spiritual is when we prayerfully seek the heart and mind of God for his purposes to be accomplished through our lives, for the sake of His son, Jesus.

The Misuse Of Church Metrics

So whether you are a pastor or other church leader of a church plant or nonprofit, you will benefit from tracking church metrics in real time, and using them to follow up with better decisions, and even optimize stewardship. The challenge with such things, though, is not in the measuring. Rather, it is a problem with ourselves, an issue of identity. 

Related Read: Recognizing Problems That Arise In Church Planting

An issue of mistaken identity

Our sense of self-worth is far more dependent on our performance than most of us are comfortable admitting. The outcome is that we are likely to measure our own personal value by what we do rather than who we are. We feel good about ourselves when we are performing well, and bad when we are not. Even worse, we may be tempted to believe that we are better than others who do not perform as well! 

Consequently, we look for, even crave for, anything that would indicate that we are doing a good job—a better job—the best job!

When our sense of identity is derived from being loved and accepted based on how we’ve performed, then we live not in the love of Christ but in the fear of man. We might be able to meet up to someone else’s standards for awhile, perhaps, but never God’s! 

This is why, before we turn to church metrics to measure our success, we must rest, again, in the reality of the unconditional love of God the Father. God’s love is not based on our performance but on who we are. Leaning too heavily on the numbers will always lead us astray. The trouble is that the indicators the world looks for are not the same as God’s. Numbers may result in misleading conclusions about our ministry efforts, not because the numbers are wrong, but because of the way we interpret them. 

What Metrics Really Matter—And Why

Let’s be honest: According to the world’s measuring stick (particularly in the United States), high-achievers who demonstrate an almost super-human capacity for work are not only rewarded for what they do but are also exalted as models of success. 

Again, there is nothing wrong with working hard, just as there is nothing wrong with measuring the fruit of your hard work.

However, when we apply God’s measuring stick to our lives, we find He is looking for something very different. For Him, what matters most is not the numbers but what’s in our hearts. 

Measuring success with Heaven’s ruler

While we are tempted to simply count fruit, God looks first for its quality! Faithfulness, trust, devotion, sacrifice, servanthood, humility, love—all these characteristics mark us. And though they need to be expressed through action, that is, through what we do (see James 2:20), when they are found in us, as the core of our being in Christ, God is pleased.

So, how do we strike a balance between resting in God’s unconditional love, on the one hand, and the work that He has called us to, on the other? How do we evaluate our performance and that of our team members, spiritually speaking, while at the same time not trusting the count of measurable things to inform and direct us with regard to the things that cannot be counted? 

The balance, I believe, lies between knowing who you are in God’s perfect love in Christ—fully forgiven, fully accepted—and the undeserved calling to serve God on earth so that He might do His heavenly work through you. By faith and in trust, we lay down our work to rest in the confidence of the knowledge that He will accomplish His work through us.

When I was a boy growing up I loved going to the playground. After the swings, my next favourite equipment was the teeter-totter. To play, you need two willing subjects, one at each end: one to “teet” and the other to “tot”. In the middle was a balancing point. If there was equal weight, with equal exertion at both ends, a well-calibrated instrument would stabilize, becoming still and resting in the balance. This theory is sound, but remember: Most children want to go up and down, producing endless motion rather than balancing perfectly at rest! 

Not surprisingly, knowing who we are in God and doing the work He has called us to is more like the back and forth, up and down of children playing on the teeter-totter than a theology of balance:

 What we know and experience in the world in which we live gives constant pushback against who God is and how He works. 

Our challenge is to live in a natural world ruled by natural principles and laws, yet operate instead by the rules and principles of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes these things seem to come into balance and we find harmony in the two realities, but most of the time they just seem to clash. 

The key is not so much finding a balance between what we know in the natural and what is revealed to us in the Spirit, but rather resting in God between the two.

The Art Of Biblical Church Data Interpretation

So where does that leave us? Well, it brings us to a simple conclusion: If you really want to know how you are doing, you might want to think about who you are asking and what your motives are in asking.

Once all the measuring is done and the numbers have been calculated, the results may all be the same, yet the interpretation of those results might lead to different conclusions.

The senior pastor I mentioned who counted the sales of his sermon recordings as an indicator of his success fell into adultery and lost his ministry. He was a great preacher and he did sell a lot of tapes; but this was not enough to keep him from unnecessary failure with a catastrophic outcome. He chose to look at the numbers he wanted to see with total disregard for what God wanted to show him in his heart.

Remember when Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint a new king to replace Saul who God had rejected? He was asked to anoint one of Jesse’s sons. We know in hindsight that David was the one who was chosen; but if it had been up to Samuel, he would have picked Eliab. 

1 Samuel 16:6 says, “So it was, when they came, that he (Samuel), looked at Eliab and said, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!'” 

When Samuel measured the man standing in front of him, he concluded that this one would be a good candidate to receive a kingly anointing. But the prophet got it wrong. What might have been a real win for Eliab ended up not to be so, because ultimately God’s measuring stick was used, rather than man’s. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (1Samuel 6:7).

In the end, Samuel anointed God’s pick: David. That day Samuel, the man, functioned in his calling, fulfilling his prophetic assignment because he acted upon God’s judgement and not his own.

Bottom line? 

How God sees and measures can only be known to those to whom He chooses to reveal such things. And so, when it comes to church metrics, let’s continue to count, measure, record, analyze, and evaluate church data. Sure, choose interactive church management software (ChMS) with the best functionality for your context. 

But don’t forget that what will matter most in your life and ministry is how God measures you and the work you have done in His name.

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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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. 

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

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

OpenSong Screenshot

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

OpenLP Screenshot

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

Song Of Songs Screenshot

4. FreeWorship – Best for small churches with basic features

FreeWorship Screenshot

5. Presenter – Best for large churches with advanced features

Presenter Screenshot

6. Slipity – Best Mac iOS remote app for sermon 

Slipity Screenshot

7. Praisenter – Best for lyrics projection software 

Praisenter Screenshot

8. Quelea – Best for sermon note integrations

Quelea Screenshot

9. SlideDog – Best for simple stage display support

SlideDog Screenshot

10. Big Screen – Best for multilingual Bible verses 

BigScreen Screenshot

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

If you’ve ever wondered how the really big churches do it, here are the 10 Biggest Streaming Churches And The Software They Use.

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! 

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

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

WordPress Screenshot

2. SquareSpace – Best for easily creating  a beautiful design

SquareSpace Screenshot

3. CloverSites – Best for integrated church content 

CloverSites Screenshot

4. Abundant – Best for integrated church website functionality

Abundant Screenshot

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

The Church Co Screenshot

6. ShareFaith – Best for church specific website features

ShareFaith Screenshot

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

Nucleus Screenshot

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

Subsplash SnapPages Screenshot

9. Tithe.ly – Best for embedded live streaming

Tithe.ly Screenshot

10. Aplos – Best for beginner-friendly approach 

Aplos  Screenshot

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.

Looking for inspiration? Here’s our list of the 20 Best Church Website Designs In 2021.

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.

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

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

Xero Screenshot

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

Quickbooks Online Screenshot

3. Sage Intacct – Best for larger churches

Sage Intacct Screenshot

4. ACS Technologies – Best for church oriented systems

ACS Technologies Screenshot

5. IconCMO – Best for web-based system

IconCMO Screenshot

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

PowerChurch Plus Screenshot

7. AccountEdge Pro – Best for local installation

AccountEdge Pro Screenshot

8. ZipBooks – Best for free church bookkeeping

ZipBooks Screenshot

9. Botkeeper – Best for automated bookkeeping

BotKeeper Screenshot

10. Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT – Best for nonprofits

Blackbaud Financial Edge Nxt Screenshot

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.

Related Read: What Every Lead Pastor Needs To Know About Church Metrics.

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 Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

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.

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. When you click through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

1. Wild ApricotBest free church management software for small churches

Wild Apricot Church Management Software's In-Built Website Builder Interface Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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 apps, 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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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 Screenshot
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?

If you’re looking for something specific like donor management software, here’s our 12 Best Donor Management Software Comparison.

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?

Here’s a bonus for you looking to improve your church technology as well as management skills: The Best Church Technology Conferences 2021.

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

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

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

Wild Apricot Screenshot

2. Servant Keeper 

Servant Keeper Screenshot

3. Aplos

Aplos Screenshot

4. Breeze ChMS

Breeze ChMS Screenshot

5. MinistryTracker

MinistryTracker Screenshot

6. Elexio

Elexio Screenshot

7. Subsplash

Subsplash Screenshot

8. Tithe.ly

Tithe.ly Screenshot

9. ChurchStaq

ChurchStaq Screenshot

10. Blackbaud Church Management

Blackbaud Church Management Screenshot

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? Ever wondered what kind of software is best for streaming? Here are the 10 Biggest Streaming Churches And The Software They Use.

Do you have any idea what to make of the data you’ve been gathering? We’re here to help with this article: What Every Lead Pastor Needs To Know About Church Metrics.

Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re looking for even more help, here’s our list of the 10 Top Church Technology Resources For Leaders in 2021.

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.

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

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

Planning Centre Screenshot

2. WorshipTrac – Best for simple, no frills solution

WorshipTrac Screenshot

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

WorshipTeam Screenshot

4. Worship Planning – Best for low price solution

Worship Planning Screenshot

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

Sunday Sounds Screenshot

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

MultiTracks Screenshot

7. FellowshipOne – Best for integrated ChMS functionality

FellowshipOne Screenshot

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

PraiseCharts  Screenshot

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

Worship Extreme Music Stand Screenshot

10. Transposr – Best for transposing songs to different keys

Transposr  Screenshot