Church management software is a crowded space. Dozens of companies are competing for your attention, all claiming that they can solve your problems, automate your tasks, and help you lead and care for people better. Doing a proper comparison of all of the companies out there can take weeks if not months.
So what is the best system out there? We believe that church management software is not a one-size-fits-all technology. You have certain goals which you'd like your church database to achieve and depending on your context, what's right for the church down the street may not be right for you.
What is your goal?
Most churches have one of four goals in mind when looking for church management software and so we've selected what we believe to be the best church management system for each goal.
- Ease of Use: Churches who have the goal of "easy of use" want their church software to be insanely intuitive. They want it to be so easy that they can put it in front of any staff member or volunteer and have it "just make sense". Ideal for small and mid-sized churches who don't have the time or budget for long training sessions and complicated interfaces, these churches want their software to provide the power they need in a design that is drop-dead easy to use.
- Power: Churches who have the goal of "power" love data, charts, queries, and reports. They want to be able to pull every metric out of every service, event, and initiative. Ideal for churches that have staff members with more technical skills, complexity doesn't scare them as they relish the ability to dig into the data to help them do ministry better.
- Social: Churches who have the goal of "social" want their church management system to be a social network for their members to connect with each other on. They want to see small groups continue their discussion within online forums and attenders sharing prayer requests with others over the cloud-based system - in short they're looking to extend their congregations interactions with one another onto the web.
- Offline Access: This goal is for churches who want their software running locally on their own computer rather than in the cloud. While we think web-based software is where technology is going (and has already gone), churches who may have a poor internet connection or are uncomfortable with putting their data in the cloud may be interested in a software solution that lives on their computer rather than online.
Our Reviews & Recommendations
After looking at the different church management software options available, we recommend the following four, each to match a different goal. These are not meant to be comprehensive reviews but rather a filter to help you narrow your focus of research. At the bottom is a price comparison chart of the different software options.
1. Ease of Use - Breeze
Breeze focuses on being the easiest to use church management software available. Their goal is that any staff member or volunteer can sit down in front of Breeze and intuitively figure it out with no or minimal training. With phone and email support included, if users do hit a snag they can email or call and receive personalized assistance. Breeze also uses one simple pricing plan of $50 per month, regardless of church size, which includes all features. While Breeze can't do every function imaginable like those you might find in the "power" category, Breeze focuses on making it really easy to do all of the tasks a church normally does. Ideal for small and mid-sized churches that don't have the staff time to invest hours in training and are looking for an intuitive, flexible, and budget-friendly option. You can try out an instant demo on their website.
Disclaimer: This comparison is being written by Breeze Church Management. We believe we’re able to provide the best solution for small and mid-sized churches looking for easy to use software but that doesn’t mean we’re the right fit for every church. Different churches have different goals and our hope is breaking this comparison down by goal will help you find the church management software that is right for you.
|Easy to Use - Staff and volunteers can begin using it without need for long training sessions||Less Power - Breeze focuses on the major tasks a church performs but does not have as many options as those in the "power" category.|
|Email and Phone Support Included - Great customer support if you hit a snag||Very Small Church Price - Some of the tiered-pricing models of other church management software options begin at a lower cost for very small churches.|
|Free Data Migration - Will move your data over from a previous system at no additional charge|
|Affordable and Simple Pricing - Flat fee of $50 per month for all churches, regardless of size. All features are included in this.|
Honorable Mention: Simple Church CRM has very similar goals in bringing simplicity to church management software. Our recommendation is Breeze due to Simple Church CRM being slightly less intuitive (in our opinion) and more expensive for most churches. And let's be honest... we're biased :). They're well worth checking out if "ease of use" is the goal you resonate with the most.
2. Power - Church Community Builder
Church Community Builder is one of the big players in the church management software space and they have a lot to offer. Nearly any task you can think of from keeping track of people's information to managing groups to reserving certain rooms for events can be covered within Church Community Builder. When used strategically, this can lead to powerful growth for your ministry and great care for the people in your church. While very capable, this wide range of functionality means that more in-depth training may be needed to take full advantage of the system which can add to the price tag. Combined with a higher price point, this software is a good fit for larger churches who have the staff capacity to focus time on database management and have the budget to afford it.
|Powerful - Perform nearly any task you can think of||Complex - Complex functionality means training may be required to take full advantage of the system|
|Clean Design - Layout is user-friendly||Price - Expensive and not an easy way to get an exact quote without contacting them|
|Support Documentation - A lot of content available online to reference.||Limited Support - If you want personalized email or phone support you will have to pay extra|
Honorable Mention: Fellowship One is another contender in the "power" category. While also very capable of fulfilling nearly any task, we selected Church Community Builder for it's cleaner interface and navigation.
3. Social - The City
The City focuses on providing an online environment for your congregation to connect with one another. Easily communicate with members and provide a space for groups to interact online. People can use The City from their desktops, laptops, or using The City's native iPhone or Android app. While The City doesn't have the administrative abilities that Church Community Builder or Breeze include, they are doing a great job at providing a platform to help your congregation connect and have meaningful interactions online. If you want to focus on social, we'd recommend using The City along with a full-fledged church management software solution (like Breeze or Church Community Builder).
|Social - Focus on allowing members to connect with one another online||Limited Administrative Ability - The focus is more on allowing people to connect than being a strong administrative tool.|
|iOS & Android Apps - Members can connect from their computer or a native app on their iPhone or Android device||Additional Costs - "Giving" and "Children's Check In" are add-on items that cost extra|
Honorable Mention: Table has a similar focus on providing a space for members to connect online. They also have an app and Table is completely free. Well worth checking out.
4. Offline Access - Servant Keeper
While we believe web-based software has major advantages over desktop-based software (all of the above products are web-based), there may be times where a desktop-based system (a system you can access offline) makes sense. The two most common scenarios are:
- Poor Internet Connection: Churches in areas where a reliable internet connection cannot be found at a reasonable cost may want to consider church management software that can be accessed offline.
- Security & Retrieval Concerns: Some organizations may be nervous about placing their data online, either because of the data being accessed by someone who should not see it or about the information getting lost. Cloud-based technologies that follow best-practice have a very high level of security and typically have a better chance of keeping your data intact as they'll have automated back up systems. That said, some organizations might still prefer to have the data stored locally.
- No Recurring Payment: You may be looking to purchase your software up front rather than to pay a subscription to use the service.
For churches looking for software that can be accessed offline, we recommend Servant Keeper. Many desktop-based church management software options feel antiquated as companies are often putting more resources into their web-based counterparts. Servant Keeper on the other hand seems to have kept their offline software updated. You can also buy the software upfront so that you're not paying recurring monthly fees. On the downside, to use Servant Keeper you must be on a computer with it installed and it's not as intuitive to use as other options out there.
It's worth noting that for a fee Servant Keeper does allow you to host your data in the cloud. This can help against a potential crash on your local computer causing loss of data, as well as allowing multiple computers to connect to the same database remotely. The computer accessing the cloud data must still have Servant Keeper installed on it. While going this route deviates from the "offline access" goal, you're welcome to read more about it here.
|Offline Access - Can access Servant Keeper without an internet connection||More Complex - Many would need training to be able to use it well|
|No Recurring Costs - Can buy without paying recurring monthly/annual costs||Pay for Upgrades - Because you're not paying monthly fees, you'll have to pay for upgrades.|
|Updated Design - The latest version having a design that has been kept up-to-date||Pay for Support - Support is an additional annual fee if you want it|
Honorable Mention: Arena (by Shelby Systems) is accessed through a browser but can be installed on a server locally and purchased upfront. If you have the hardware and expertise to host this yourself, it may be worth looking into.
Pricing Comparison Chart
While basing a decision to purchase church management software off of price alone can be dangerous (cheaper is not always better), it's helpful to have a ballpark range so you can know if a given option is even worth considering. That said it can be challenging to compare prices for church management software because each company has a bit of a different way of structuring their pricing. Below we've included a table showing a typical* price based on the size of your church.
|Church Size||Breeze||CCB**||The City||Servant Keeper|
|100 People||$50/month||$60/month (+ $350 setup)***||$42/month (+ $99 setup)||$250 (one time)|
|250 People||$50/month||Contact for $||$130/month (+ $499 setup)||$499 (one time)|
|500 People||$50/month||Contact for $||Contact for $||$559 (one time)|
|1,000 People||$50/month||Contact for $||Contact for $||$559 (one time)|
|More Info||More Info||More Info||More Info|
* Typical refers to a best guess at the average features a church would use for their size. Prices may vary based on if the company charges extra for additional features that you need, but this is intended to give you a ballpark idea of what the software would cost.
** CCB stands for Church Community Builder
*** This rate pertains to church plants who have had their first service in the last 12 months. More information can be found here.
What's been your experience?
Is there a church management software option listed above that you've enjoyed the most? An alternative system that has worked well for your church? Are there categories other than "ease of use", "power", "social", and "offline access" that we're missing? We'd love to hear your thoughts - leave them in the comments below.