Small Group Management Systems: Building Your Own

Why we built our own software, and how it works

Crossroads Christian Church of Evansville, Indiana, addressed the challenge of gathering, tracking, and maintaining a database for small groups by building our own database.

How It Works

Jack Arney, our church staff member in charge of software development, customized a tool to meet our specific needs. Using a program called FileMaker Pro, he created two databases:

  1. "SMALL GROUPS" is our name for the program that tracks every individual enrolled in a small group. In this database, we can find, for example:
    - What groups any individual has joined
    - Which active constituents of the church are in a
    group and which are not (helps with
    shepherding)
  2. "SMALL GROUP LEADERS" indexes every group by the name of their leader. This allows us to find a profile on any group, such as:
    - Time of meetings
    - Age
    - Location
    - Singles, couples, mixed, women only, etc.
    - Who is their coach or division leader

Why Did We Develop Our Own?

We were aware that several excellent programs are available that track data for church small group programs. However, in our case, it was easiest to utilize our current program for three reasons:

  1. FileMaker Pro is high-quality software. We have had a positive experience with it for a number of years and had in-house expertise for development and ongoing support of the system.

  2. The program allows for numerical growth without increasing cost for extra database space. We currently have about 2000 in groups, and we can add an unlimited number.

  3. It linked with what we had already developed. Our database already linked information for our ministries in worship, youth, administration, involvement, and a number of smaller ministries. It was natural to add small groups to the list. (A side note: this across-the-board approach to data has also proven useful as we have worked toward the "church of small groups" idea, which involves all the ministries of the church.)

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