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21st-Century Web Solution for Small Groups

No matter where I go, everyone is asking the same question: Where can we find a fully-functioning 21st century web solution for groups?

I’ve decided that most web solutions for groups are incomplete. That is, regardless of whether they can be described as a church management software (a bundled solution that handles database, check-in, financials, reports, etc.) or a stand-alone 3rd party application for small groups that integrates with a church management software (CMS), they typically satisfy only some of the needs of a small group ministry.

In my experience, the most common players are ChurchTeams, FellowshipOne, Shelby, and Arena. While there are other systems, they seem to play a less significant role.

I’ve used them all. I like aspects of several of them. And I’ve discovered that most of them are missing essential ingredients in order to qualify as a 21st century solution. What are the essential ingredients?

Here are mine:

  1. Allow unconnected people to easily find a group that fits their needs 24/7. They shouldn’t have to log in (or create a log-in) to see what it available. They should be able to filter for groups that fit their needs (i.e., they shouldn’t have to choose from a randomly list of every group).
  2. Upon selecting a group, every unconnected person ought to be able to expect contact within 24 hours by phone or email from the group leader.
  3. Once connected, leaders ought to be able to add new members to their rosters, changing the status of prospects to members. It ought to be easy to do. There shouldn’t have to be a middleman.
  4. Make it easy for leaders to use the system in order to track attendance, record prayer requests, communicate with their coach, etc.
  5. Community Leaders ought to be able to see at a glance whether leaders are following up on prospects.
  6. A weekly (or monthly) status report ought to be generated to flag any issues.

What do you think? Does your system do these things? Have something else on your wishlist? Have a solution you love? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.