In our Top 20 ChMS infographic released earlier this year, Capterra took a look at some great church management systems based on their number of users, customers, and social media presence.
We also released an article featuring the top five biggest companies on that list.
However, I wanted to take an in-depth look at the candidates with the most customers on that list. While some of these companies are mentioned a lot on the web, they aren’t all going to get featured in a biggest-and-best list, because two of them are pretty small!
The top three vendors by customers are:
- ACS Technologies (with 50,000 customers)
- PowerChurch Software (with 35,000 customers and fewer than 50 employees!)
- Servant Keeper (with 25,000 customers and also fewer than 50 employees)
You’ve got to admit, those are some pretty impressive numbers. It may be no surprise that you hear the names of these products mentioned by other churches in your area or on the internet.
But when it comes down to it, which product is going to work best for your church?
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of these popular church management software options.
If you start looking around for church software, it won’t be long before you run into ACS Technologies. They are far and away the most used ChMS out there, for a few reasons.
First of all, ACS Technologies has been around for a while in terms of software, 1978 in fact. However, a huge factor in ACS’ popularity is probably the diversity of its product offerings.
Many ChMS vendors offer cloud-based and installed versions of their products, but ACS goes farther: the product list not only encompasses several levels of church management and accounting software, but offers solutions for multiple denominations, a personalized church social network (The City), and private school administration software.
Of course we are mainly concerned with church management software in this article, but the fact that ACS has several other products for churches that integrate with their ChMS offerings is tempting for churches looking to expand their ministries.
And speaking of expansion, ACS’ ChMS fits all shapes and sizes! Though it has sometimes been criticized for being unwieldy and difficult to learn, it can’t be denied that ACS has every feature a church could need, with church apps, accounting, child security, online donations, small group management, and options for multisite churches, alongside the core management functionalities.
Are there any downsides to ACS? Well, with a product that complex, and with that many customers, there is bound to be some dissatisfaction. ACS Technologies packs a punch with its software, which means that it can have a steep learning curve for some smaller churches, besides having a price tag of a few thousand dollars up front and monthly maintenance fees (and SaaS rental fees in the thousands per year).
Overall, ACS Technologies is a very comprehensive solution, and has been around long enough to know the core functions churches need. Their ChMS is very scalable, and requires serious training, so it is often ideal for large and megachurches.
Coming in at 35,000 customers, PowerChurch is another name you’ll run into once you start looking at ChMS options. Serving churches since 1984, PowerChurch Software, like ACS Technologies, offers solutions for several aspects of church management, like check-in, accounting, donations, and mailing.
ACS Technologies certainly outstrips PowerChurch in terms of the number of products it offers, but PowerChurch has a few advantages of its own. For one thing, the price of PowerChurch Plus, their main ChMS product, is a one-time fee of $395, with fees of $119-149 for version upgrades. PowerChurch is one of the most affordable solutions on this list, which makes it a popular alternative, especially for small churches.
Another plus for small churches is its easy-to-learn interface. A frequent comment by PowerChurch users is that it was “easy to use” or “user-friendly,” which makes a big difference when many church employees are part-time or volunteers and training needs to be as efficient as possible.
PowerChurch Plus is also known for its accounting abilities, since accounting is built into the package price, unlike many ChMS programs. This can be a benefit for churches looking for a comprehensive software, or a downside for churches that want to continue using other accounting software, like QuickBooks.
Another possible downside for PowerChurch: it doesn’t always do the trick for large churches. Though PowerChurch Plus is a fairly comprehensive solution featuring membership, contributions, accounting, event scheduling, and record keeping, once a church wants to grow beyond those functions, the only other products are the Check In and Mailroom modules. That means no integrated website, mobile app, or online sermon streaming.
The bottom line: PowerChurch has a lot of abilities for a reasonable price. It’s known for being easy to learn, and combines several core functions with its starting package, so this is a great fit for smaller and mid-size churches.
With 25,000 customers, Servant Keeper isn’t far behind PowerChurch Software in terms of popularity. Servant Keeper was created by ServantPC, which has been serving churches since 1994, making it a bit younger than both ACS Technologies and PowerChurch Software.
Unlike PowerChurch, Servant Keeper offers several separate modules for managing membership, events, and donations, and it does not offer an accounting module (it does offer integration with Quickbooks). However, like ACS Technologies, it is also very scalable, with mobile apps, worship software, and online giving functions.
The pricing for Servant Keeper keeps it in an affordable range, with $250 for up to 50 family units and $499 for unlimited members. However, it should be taken into consideration that the core Servant Keeper program is for member and contribution management only, and features like text donations and event management will cost extra.
Servant Keeper is a good solution for several church sizes. They take the little guy into account, while offering more advanced functions like text donations. And according to their reviews, they offer great support!
For church software with strong functionality, and especially church software that works for small churches, support is a must. There will always be moments in the church office when something just isn’t making sense or, worst-case scenario, something glitches and you lose crucial data. Servant Keeper has been praised for handling these crisis moments with their stellar support.
Downsides of using Servant Keeper? Like PowerChurch Plus, it does not offer some large-scale functions like an integrated website, so megachurches might need to look at something built for handling huge congregations, like ACS. And if a church has just hit the 51-family mark, $499 might seem like a lot to shell out just for membership and contribution management, when PowerChurch Plus has more features for less money. However, the extra modules that are available to Servant Keeper users are not unaffordable, and cover a wider range of features than those of PowerChurch Plus.
At the end of the day, Servant Keeper is a really good option for several types of churches. Even if it isn’t as multisite-friendly as ACS Technologies, it still offers a great deal of advanced features, for an affordable price. The scalability of Servant Keeper, and its great support, are definitely something for small and mid-size churches to take into account.
Plenty of options
These three products may be the options with the most customers, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only thing out there, or that they’re the perfect fit for your church. To check out more software and read customer reviews, check out the Capterra ChMS directory.
Since these are the top-selling ChMS solutions out there, you might have some tales of your own about their abilities. If you have any thoughts or stories, leave them in the comments below!
Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.