When Does Denomination Matter? Choosing the Right ChMS Solution for Your Church

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The other day I was driving through a neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and I saw something remarkable. Within the distance of less than a mile, the welcoming billboards and banners of roughly a dozen different churches greeted me. Each one of these churches represented a different denomination. It was just as easy to find a Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Catholic, or non-denominational church on that city block as it was to find a Starbucks!

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When it comes to Christianity, the United States of America is every bit the melting pot it’s made out to be.

denomination

With a Christian population of at least 225,000,000 individuals, the U.S. represents 33,000 different Christian denominations. These denominations differ in congregation size, liturgy, sacraments, worship, and general belief systems.

Luckily for pastors, there are slightly fewer church software options than there are denominations. So if you’re a church looking for software, how do you know if the solution you’re thinking about purchasing will fit the specific needs of your denomination?

No software solution is going to be an absolute perfect fit for every church in every denomination. But if you start by evaluating your church’s size, belief system, and needs, you’ll be on your way to finding the denomination-appropriate solution.

Size:

The best place to start when evaluating whether a software solution will fall in line with your denominational needs is to look at your congregation size.

According to Aris, the most populated Christian denominations in America are Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Nondenominational, with these denominations often boasting numbers of attendees in the hundreds and even thousands.

If you’re among these mid-to-large churches (over 200 members), then your budget is probably on the bigger side, and you have more requirements for software to fulfill. You may be looking for a complete Church Management Software (ChMS) solution that includes these extra functionalities:

  • Volunteer tracking
  • Social media integration
  • Mobile apps
  • Online giving
  • Payroll management
  • Multi-site management

But what if you’re a smaller church without the need to track attendance or support online donations? If you have 200 members or fewer, you’re probably going to have a tighter budget and fewer software requirements. Start by asking yourself if you’re even big enough to consider purchasing software.

If you conclude that you do in fact want to look into buying a software solution for your church, consider whether any of these functionalities are what you’re looking for:

  • Attendance tracking
  • Contributions management
  • Scheduling/calendar
  • Accounting
  • Event registration

If you don’t feel that you need all of these features, consider looking into non-church-specific  standalone products such as Accounting Software, Membership Management Software, or Facilities Management Software.

As you can see, denominations differ greatly in the number of members there are so it’s something you should take into account when purchasing software for your church.

For more insight, check out this list of worship software solutions for churches of all sizes and browse through Capterra’s Epic Guide to Building a Church Website to discover what a church of your size needs on its website!

Belief System:

What your church believes and teaches is the most important aspect of your community and is probably the greatest source of difference between you and other denominations. So make sure you don’t shelve your beliefs in order to find a software solution that fits!

Keep in mind that many church software solutions were developed by Christians with a specific set of beliefs. Therefore, sometimes their terms of service require that you believe certain things.

For example, Church Community Builder and Church Teams both have a set of terms and agreements that permit them to cancel the subscription of any church that does not agree with their individual belief systems. Similarly, WebChurch Connect reserves the right to submit any legal dispute between a client and them to a Biblical mediation. They prohibit customers from filing  a lawsuit regarding their products and require that any disagreement be solved in this non-legal way.

One software vendor became a point of controversy in the comments section of an article back in 2014 because they used to deny services to churches that practiced same-sex marriage. Although they have since changed their conditions, keep in mind that some churches may hold different beliefs than your denomination, making a contract with them potentially complicated.

Avoid any future controversy by reading the product’s terms of agreement carefully before purchasing.

Denomination-specific features:

When looking for a software solution, anticipate the possibility that your church may have denomination-specific needs that will affect what features you’ll want to look for in a product.

The most obvious example of this would be if you are a Roman Catholic church. Since the Catholic Church places an emphasis on record-keeping and the sacraments, you will need to look for a solution that includes the following features:

  • Sacrament tracking
  • Certificate printing
  • Religious education
  • Contact database for diocese/parishes
  • Census
  • Online catechism training
  • Room and equipment booking
  • Minister scheduling

Although you can certainly work with a generic ChMS solution, check out these Catholic-specific software solutions that might be a better fit for your church:

For Catholic churches and other denominations that operate under diocesan organization (Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalian, and Church of God in Christ), keep in mind that some solutions have software suites tailored to fit the needs of a diocesan office. Make sure you choose the right option.

For example, if you’re responsible for choosing a software solution for the diocese, and you’ve decided that you want to purchase a solution from CathoNet, you will want to choose the Diocesan Suite version. On the other hand, if you’re only buying a solution for your particular parish, you’ll want to choose the Parish Suite version.

Conclusion

When looking for a software solution for your church, make sure you find one that is compatible with your denomination. For more help looking for a ChMS solution for your church, check out Capterra’s free e-book guide to choosing a church software solution

Was this helpful? Let me know in the comments if I missed anything!

Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Julia DeCelles-Zwerneman

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Julia DeCelles-Zwerneman is a Software Analyst for Capterra, a company that loves connecting buyers and sellers of business software. She specializes in construction management software. When she’s not covering the industry, you can find her playing piano, reading obsessively and playing volleyball.

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