February 3, 2014
There is a lot of confusion out there about Church Management Software. What is it? How would it help us? Is it worth it? These are some common questions. And rightfully so, you have to do the research before you commit to any product. I received a call today from someone from softwareadvice.com wanting to know about ChMS because, simply put, they didn’t know anything about it. They realized that ChMS is different than non-profit software and felt they needed to learn more about it.
ChMS often gets lumped into a category with non-profit software and the truth is, it caters to a different set of needs. So we are hoping to clear up some of the misconceptions that are out there about Church Management Software. Here we go, the top 10 misconceptions about Church Management Software.
1. ChMS is the same as Non-Profit Software
Church Management Software is not the same as Non-Profit software. The two products are often grouped together due to the fact that the churches and faith based ministries that would be interested in Church Management Software are indeed non-profit organizations. The major difference between Non-Profit Software and Church Management Software is the differing needs of the organizations. Non-Profit groups often need to gain greater social awareness in order to solicit funds and organize follow ups with possible donation leads. Churches and faith based organizations that do not rely heavily on fundraising but receive unsolicited donations often want a management tool to will help organize donations and track membership aspects. I agree, it can be confusing!! To add to it, some ChMS programs even include fundraising possibility. So, the easiest way to determine which product is best for your ministry is to figure out your major needs and goals and search for a program that can meet these needs well.
2. All ChMS software is the same
So let’s say you know ChMS is the software for you, then just pick one, right? They are all the same, aren’t they? FALSE. As we have said, many people are confused about church software. (We are hoping to lessen this confusion by writing this post.) ChMS consists of a wide variety of companies that offer a variety of products. So again, figure out the needs and goals of your church and start your research from there. Every product does NOT offer the same aspects.
Here is a tool from Christian Computing Magazine that will be helpful in your search. This Interactive Church Management Software Feature Chart exhibits ChMS companies and visually portrays the products they offer for an easy comparison. Keep in mind, some companies have been in the industry for over 25 years, which gives you a lot of time to assess the church’s needs. Translation; there are some great products out there!!
3. ChMS is not affordable
Many think ChMS is not affordable, which is a common misconception. There are price tiers available based on the size of your congregation and the needs that you have based on this number of attendees. There is something for every “body”.
Another misconception related to price is that Church software (and our friend non-profit software) should cost less than similar profit software. The keyword here is similar, which will lead us into our 4th point, but before we get there; why should a product that is made for churches cost less than it’s “profit” friends? Church software is designed specifically to meet the needs of a church. This customized product is worth the price.
4. ChMs is a mediocre product
We will keep it short and sweet here, not true. People have the tendency to think that “Christian products” are a step behind, mediocre, or just “not quite there yet”. This is not the case with ChMS. These products are a solid comparison to “profit” software on the market today. Technology is up to current standards. Financial software meets current GAAP requirements. ChMS is available in the cloud and has mobile capabilities. ChMS is a robust product with endless capabilities. Far from mediocre.
5. My church only needs a spreadsheet for management not ChMS
Today’s church is moving away from the reputation of being “set in our ways”. It is exciting to watch churches come up with creative ideas for worship and sharing the Lord with those who do not know Him. When you see this creativity look a little closer and you will see the church’s infrastructure, the operations/financial staff. These people aren’t really dreamers but they are very good at getting things done!!! Both the “dreamers” and “doers” are vital pieces to the body. Doers stick to formulas because they have made the formulas work. “Doers” don’t like change. I have heard of churches that have not moved to ChMS simply because of one staff members’ refusal (more likely than not the financial/operations person).
To clarify this misconception, you need more than a spreadsheet to manage your church or whatever old systems your are using. I know change is hard, but the sooner you muster up the effort to go after it, the better. the outcome will be worth it. Promise.
6. With ChMS the product is not worth the required effort
ChMS is an investment, but it’s worth it. I know the first thing that pops into our head when we hear investment is …. money. And as we discussed earlier ChMS does require a financial investment but it also requires you to invest your time and the time of your staff. Just remember, everything is for a season not forever.
Picture your vision and set the goals you want to accomplish with the help of ChMS. Knowing where you are headed makes the journey more tolerable. We know that it takes planting a seed in order to see growth. You will never see the fruit without some effort on the front end. Members in the years to come will be blessed and benefit from your investment. It feels good knowing you have paved the way for future generations. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
7. ChMS will not meet my organization’s unique needs
It’s hard to believe people with this misconception have done much research on existing products because there is so much available. Attendance, Check-In, Volunteer Tracking, Small Groups, Contributions, Mission Trips, plus a full range of financial tools are just a few of the products out there. And on top of that there are programs so in depth that you can develop them to be what you want them to be. Many churches use Check-In in their Children’s ministry and every church seems to customize it to fit their church atmosphere. Some churches check in with sticker labels others use iPads or check in kiosks. Another church took the prayer module and expanded it to track not only their prayer requests but also their hospital visitation ministry. If you have the need, there is likely a solution already available.
8. ChMS will not integrate with what we already have
You may be able to integrate more than you think. Users have integrated their current website and their online giving. Data conversion may even be a possibility in some cases.
9. ChMS is too hard to learn/use
ChMS is not impossible to learn but it will require training. Think of the first time you ever saw a smartphone. It was a foreign object. It had amazing potential but you either had to have someone with more knowledge teach you or you end up stumbling upon features a year later that would have been helpful. Getting the proper training will not only help you master the program but it will help you not waste valuable time that could be used in other ways.
10. ChMS should be beginner friendly
A program that has the ability to be personalized will take training. If the program has this depth it will not be a “works by itself” type program. It will need to managed in the beginning and set up well. The more you invest in this front end management the better the end-user experience will be.
There you have it!! So many misconception set straight. J If you made it all the way to the end then I am impressed. If you have any questions or if you’d like to talk to someone in person, give us a call at (800) 877-0222. We love it chat!