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 Management System (CMS) providers who specialize in small group ministry management to give brief descriptions of their products, along with a link to their web sites so you can find out more.

If you do not have in-house expertise to develop and maintain your own Small Group Management System, then one of these products may be able to provide the solution you need!

Excellerate Church Management Software

Excellerate is a complete church management system designed specifically for churches with small groups. We realize that small groups are extremely effective at reaching and discipling people, so we have developed advanced tools to ensure your groups and leaders are successful.

Reduce paperwork with our web integration—Your leaders can manage their groups from your website, submit weekly meeting reports online, and even track follow-ups with new visitors. Excellerate supports any group structure - 5x5, Free Market, Principle of 12, etc. You can graphically manage your group structure with drag and drop and analyze different small group attendance trends with graphical charts. Mass emailing capabilities allow you to quickly communicate with your leaders, members, or any view of your database.

Other features include:

  • Complete membership tracking

  • Visitor follow-up tracking and analysis

  • Member pictures

  • Record counseling sessions and other meetings

  • Member/Leader development tracts

  • Church attendance using quick-entry or barcodes

  • Detailed tracking of classes, including "school of leaders"

  • Handles contributions and pledges for any number of funds

  • Report writer for printing in various formats including envelopes, cards, lists and letters

  • Extremely flexible, allowing you to customize fields, reports, and views

  • Multi-user network capability so everyone is looking at the same data

  • Interfaces with mapping software

GroupTracker Software

GroupTracker software is designed to help churches easily collect attendance data from their small groups, no matter how many small groups the church has. GroupTracker allows your small group leaders to post their attendance from their home over the Internet. No special software needs to be installed.

It works just like a regular attendance sheet. The group leader enters the date of their last meeting, makes any changes to the list of group members, and checks off those who were present. When the leader submits the form, you receive an e-mail from the group with all the details. From there, you can post the small group attendance into your existing church software.

GroupTracker software is a great solution for churches that already have church management software (such as ACS or Shelby) but who need an easier way of collecting attendance data each week. GroupTracker adds accountability to your groups by providing an easy way for group leaders to post their attendance.

Life Together Online by Churchteams.

As one of the primary tools offered since the inception of the Life Together coaching programs, Churchteams has gained national exposure, feature enhancements and proven reliability. Its features include seamless integration into a church's website, SSL security, multi-level password protected accessibility, and an interactive relationship with any database. Functionally, we offer a user-friendly way for members and guests to quickly sort and find small groups, an email reminder that prompts leaders to report on their group with an option to email the group, easy identification of people not in small groups, a quick glance contact system for coaches, numerous reporting options for small group directors, and assessment tools for personal / group spiritual health. Designed by a small group pastor who uses the tool everyday with a constant eye for improvement and enhancement, our goal is to enhance the disciple-making and team-building efforts of the local church.

The Ministry Manager
888-222-4HIM (4446)

The Ministry Manager™ is a private church intranet site designed to build communities, manage contacts, distribute communications, organize & manage small groups or committees, run numerous types of reports, post devotionals and classifieds, track volunteers, and much more!

The Ministry Manager™ allows you to store member information in one central place and is available to church administrators from any computer that has internet access. With this system, pastors, church members, ministry leaders, group leaders, volunteers, and missionaries will be able to communicate and share information instantly with one another! helps you do more in less time. Leaders can:

  • Keep up with contact info for your group members

  • Help members stay connected with secure, web-based access to a contact list

  • List group/church events and information

  • Display prayer requests and praises

  • Deliver birthday and anniversary e-mails automatically

  • Track life events (couple adopts a baby) and be reminded yearly of opportunities to minister

  • Develop your own study plan

  • Customize "stock" studies to make them relevant for your group

  • Continue the study with customizable daily devotions by automated e-mail

Coming Fall 2005 for small group pastors, coordinators, and leaders:

  • Track and review attendance for each small group

  • View group study plans and assist leaders in building an effective study plan

  • Monitor group and leader activity in

  • Drill down for detailed group information

  • Reproducible student handout including devotionals and study guide

Check us out FREE for 3months! Visit to sign up for the free trial! No billing information required for sign-up. Yes! It is really FREE!

People Driven Software
866-PDS-WARE (866-737-9273)

People Driven Software is a full-featured, innovative church management software package. Its primary focus is helping people to become fully engaged followers of Christ and facilitating all the processes that help make that goal happen. While there are many outstanding features of the program, a core competency of PDS is building community through Small Groups. Here are just a few of the specifics:

  • Track every person's history of small group involvement and their position within each group (member, host, apprentice, leader, coach, etc.)

  • Detailed management of groups, such as location, meeting time, leadership structure, maturity level, group gender type, curriculum, openness to new members, etc.

  • Produce slick publicity for all open groups ready for you to distribute via email or print. All the group info comes straight out of the database!

  • Design and track your whole process for getting people in groups and developing new ones. PDS will keep a "waiting list" so your team can follow up and launch new groups as need demands.

  • Set involvement goals for small groups. For example, the church goal is to have 80% of all members in a small group. You can instantly compare the goal to the actual percentage.

  • Identify members that are not in a small group and send them email/mail encouraging them to join a small group.

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