One of the most important aspects of any successful church is its ability to foster community. What better place to spur one another toward love and good deeds, meet together, and encourage the good in one another than your local church? But especially if you’re a growing church, juggling members and visitors can be a hectic job, not to mention managing donations, checking in with small groups, and planning events.
Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another….”
Luckily for your congregation, there’s software for that. Investing in a church management solution can help automate many tedious processes, such as taking attendance, tracking pledges, and running membership reports. By letting software keep better track of your members, your church staff will have more free time to do things like communicate meaningfully and personally with your congregation, organize events, and ultimately strengthen the foundation of your church.
But if you’re going to put all of your church’s information into a ChMS, you’ll want to make sure that you won’t be spending all your time praying that your system will work.
To help you (or a technically savvy member of your congregation) avoid the frustration of a malfunctioning solution, Capterra has created our new Top 20 Most User-Friendly Church Management Software report.
This research is part of our series of Top 20 reports. When ranking solutions, we consider usability (how easy a system is to use), available customer services (for when earthly customer support guides have a chance to work miracles), and reviews from actual users of the different solutions in our report.
Usability is calculated through direct user testing. We determine tasks that are representative of how most churches would use a system to keep track of their congregation and their members’ activities (listed below). We then measure how many seconds and clicks it takes our team, on average, to complete these tasks in a ChMS.
- Create a member
- Add a family member
- Create a small group
- Schedule Sunday service
- Take attendance for service
- Record a donation from a member
- Run a report
We tested all the church management solutions made available to us, performing each task two times in every system. In the first round, we completed the task without accessing any training, testing intuitiveness. In the second round, we followed training materials provided by the software company, testing learnability.
Here’s how fast the Top 20 ChMS’s are:
It’s important to keep in mind that a faster system might not necessarily be better than a system with a longer task completion time. Some ChMS’s prompt users to enter more information on members (baptism dates, marriage anniversaries, etc.) or be more specific when entering details about donations for tax and compliance purposes.
In addition to task completion, we considered customer service, which is a measure of how well a software company helps you get set up and successful in their solution. To build this measure we kept track of whether a user was able to personalize/configure a system based on their company’s needs, what kind of training software companies offered to new customers, and how many different ways a user could get in touch with a company if they had questions or issues with a system. We’ve listed the customer services we tracked in learning management systems below:
- Implementation resources
- Ability to import existing members/contacts (via an Excel or CSV file, for example)
- Accounting (either built-in or integration with a third party system)
- Website integration
- Mobile responsiveness/mobile app
- Training resources
- Articles or training documents
- Free demos
- Free trials
- Support resources
- Via email or a help desk
- Through links to an FAQ page or a knowledge base
- Phone support
- Chat support
Finally, customer reviews ratings pertaining to categories like “ease of use” and “customer service” were included to show how actual users of a given system feel about that system. Reviews data came from our website and our sister company, Software Advice’s, site. We took into account the total number of reviews a system had and their customers’ average ratings across all three sites.
You can use this list to help you with your own in-depth research. Many church management solutions offer free trials, and most offer free demos. In fact, all of the solutions in our Top 20 Most User-Friendly report offer both, so you can judge for yourself whether or not they’re easy to navigate.
It’s important to remember that a system that’s easy to use might not have all the functionality you need or fit your church’s budget. But Capterra can act as your financial guardian angel, in that case. Check out our Top 20 Most Affordable Church Management Software Report for more information on system features and cost.
In addition, if you’re thrilled that there are easy-to-use systems out there, but you’re not sure if your church is ready to purchase one, you can check out The Smart Guide to Buying Church Management Software, an eBook that will take you through the software purchasing process step-by-step.
What do you think? Did we miss any church management vendors? Let us know! We plan to update this research annually.
Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.