Choosing your next church management system can be an exhausting, tedious experience, like selecting a movie to watch on Netflix or picking a place to eat dinner.
When presented with thousands of choices, choice overload can set in, making you want to just give up and take a long stroll.
But a better option to saying “to heck with it, let’s just pick something” is to thoughtfully consider your options and settle on the best fit.
We’re here to help.
Choosing a church management platform is going to take a little more time. For one thing, there are more than 200 to choose from. Also, unlike dinner and a movie, your church management platform is going to be around for awhile, so you want to get this right.
Choosing a church management system
Capterra’s ChMS directory is designed to narrow your search down to a few options based on criteria like features, ratings, and number of users.
But what happens once you’ve narrowed your search down to a couple of options and you’re having trouble picking one? That can be a problem, and one that I’ve seen play out hundreds of times when shopping with my girlfriend.
When picking between two blouses or fragrances, you just have to ask yourself at some point “which one makes me feel better.”
But picking a ChMS calls for a more calculated approach, and that’s the purpose of this exercise.
We picked two of the most popular church management systems on the market—Church Community Builder and Fellowship One—and took a close look at their similarities and differences to hopefully help you in your own search for a ChMS.
Church Community Builder, established in Colorado Springs in 1999, and Fellowship One, which started in Dallas, TX in 2004, have more than 30 years of market experience combined, so you know you’re getting a well-established product with either one.
Church Community Builder also serves more than twice as many churches as Fellowship One (9,500 to 4,000) as of August of 2016.
So give Church Community Builder the popularity edge.
But this isn’t high school, so let’s look at some more relevant metrics.
Coming in at No. 20, Church Community Builder just made the cut on Capterra’s Top 20 Most Affordable Church Management Software list, which ranks available options based on average monthly cost, total features offered, and customer reviews.
Fellowship One, on the other hand, did not crack the Top 20.
Church Community Builder does not offer templated pricing, instead tailoring custom packages for individual churches based on size and features needed. But customers can expect to pay $61-$90 per month for the Essential package, which includes standard features like membership management, donation management, member directory, attendance tracking, calendar management, small group management, pledge management, online giving, volunteer management, event management, and member outreach.
Church Community Builder’s Standard package adds features like resource management, volunteer scheduling, and check-in. The Deluxe package includes dashboard metrics, group hierarchy, and multi-site. Prices are not available for those packages.
Fellowship One also eschews templated pricing in favor of customized plans, but does offer a bundled package—Fellowship One GO Complete—which starts at $179 per month. In addition to the standard features listed above, Fellowship One GO Complete also includes accounting and website management features.
For more detailed pricing information, Fellowship One has a pricing calculator on their website. For example, a 500-member church that chose premium support could expect to pay $257 per month.
Church Community Builder does not have an online pricing calculator, instead asking prospective clients to fill out a brief survey to get a quote from a representative.
Based on this info, and despite the cool calculator of Fellowship One, Church Community Builder gets the edge on affordability.
3. User Friendliness
Fellowship One scored the No. 5 spot on Capterra’s Top 20 Most User-Friendly Church Management Software list from December of 2016, which measured usability based on seven common tasks (creating a member, adding a family member, creating a small group, taking attendance, scheduling worship, recording a donation, and running a membership report), as well as a combination of customer support options offered, and customer reviews.
According to that test, Fellowship One took an average of 39 seconds and 13 clicks per task performed, and scored high marks for training and support.
Church Community Builder did not appear on our user-friendly list, but earned scores of 3.5/5 on Ease of Use and 4/5 on Customer Service based on 54 customer reviews.
Despite its No. 5 ranking on the User-Friendly list, Fellowship One has ratings of 3/5 on Ease of Use and 3.5/5 on Customer Service based on 46 customer reviews.
Still, based on Capterra’s direct testing, Fellowship One gets the edge on user friendliness.
4. Customer Reviews
Based on about 50 reviews each, Church Community Builder has an overall rating of 4/5 on Capterra, while Fellowship One comes in at 3.5/5.
The general consensus suggests that Church Community Builder provides a lot of value for its price and integrates well with other software. In fact, some users said that it might be too complex for smaller churches, but Church Community Builder responded by adding free training workshops this February. Users also found that Church Community Builder has shown a willingness to update the software regularly to address needs, although its mobile functionality is still lacking.
“We find that it works well with most of the systems that we had set up long before purchasing, and we would definitely choose CCB again if given the option,” wrote a user from Christ’s Church of Oronogo in Missouri.
Fellowship One reviewers generally show admiration for the product’s robust functionality and extensive feature list, but suggest that it is best suited for larger churches with an experienced IT staff to pilot the system.
One user from Park Chapel Christian Church in Indiana wrote, “I have used this software for 6+ years and still can’t figure parts of it out…This is definitely for larger churches—it’s too much of a beast for small shops.”
To that point, a web director from the multi-site NewSpring Church in South Carolina called Fellowship One “a great out of the box ChMS system that has a ton of different functionality.”
As you can see, selecting a church management system can be a complicated process, even if you have narrowed it down to only two choices.
Based on this exercise, Church Community Builder has pricing and usability that would best serve small-to-midsized churches without an experienced IT staff, while Fellowship One looks like a good fit for growing churches with flexible budgets and a dedicated web team.
If, after reading this article, you feel strongly about either Church Community Builder or Fellowship One, that’s great! But if not, that’s OK, too.
Better yet, if you have already used Church Community Builder and/or Fellowship One, please do everyone a favor and leave a review sharing your thoughts! That way you can help clear a path for the lost software hunter that follows in your footsteps.
Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.