Small Group Management Systems: Off the Shelf

Tips for buying an "off the shelf" small group management system

Many years ago, I entered my first church experience as a small group director. Part of my job description was administration of our church and small group database. Initially, we managed everybody's personal information with hand-written records. Over time, we advanced to word processors and spreadsheets. Even with computerized files, much of the record keeping revolved around maintaining multiple copies of printed paper files that could easily be accessed by different individuals in leadership. As you can imagine, it was a difficult task to keep multiple copies of those records updated! We were constantly getting new address, phone, and eventually email information from church members that needed to be updated in everyone's files. It got to the point that we were running new printouts every week and throwing away reams of paper.

We knew our in-house system was inadequate, and we knew we needed to find a product that made the latest member information easily accessible to key people, that was reasonably priced, that could grow with us, and that could be supported over the long haul. There were a dozen or more off-the-shelf church management systems available at that time, and we set off on the task of finding the one that would meet our needs. We eventually did.

Now, many years later, the product offerings have changed. Most off-the-shelf management systems have improved with time. Most are now available with Internet accessibility and even more features than we could have imagined many years ago.

Perhaps you are in a position where your in-house system is not meeting your needs and you are looking for an off-the-shelf product, or a different off-the-shelf product than you currently use. invited several Church ...

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