This is Boyd, co-founder of Churchteams. We get a lot of discussion in other circles, but not so much in the church IT world. We did a major UX release last year using texting as the database interface for not only giving and registration, but also taking attendance, check-in, follow-up assignments, volunteer & meeting schedule, groups, update information and links to anywhere on the web you choose.
I was talking to a former F1 sales guy recently and his impression was that we were weak on security based on our old system of non-unique login access. We changed that several years ago. That got me wondering about what other impressions are out there. I promise your thoughts aren’t going to offend me, but I’d love to hear any other impressions or what you have heard or experienced. Or, if you know anything at all about us.
I can tell you why it didn’t make our list. We just completed a migration off RDS and went with ShelbyNext. When we looked at systems we wanted to have everything in one place. That meant we wanted membership management, check in, contribution, and the accounting piece all in one package. If they didn’t do the accounting…they didn’t make the list. We even passed over Fellowship One because of this. Our bookkeeping office didn’t want to go to two different placed to get things done.
Thanks Jeff. I appreciate the feedback. That really is great help.
If it’s of interest, our goal is to be able to manage all your people data in one place including giving, contributions, statements, email marketing, texting, event registrations, volunteer management, secure check-in etc… That way you don’t have to worry about APIs, different user experiences with software packages, etc… On the money side, when I was a church admin I found that it was easier to get bookkeepers, audits and reports the business guys on our finance team understood with Quickbooks than it was when we used a church accounting package. Since Churchteams took care of everything giving related, it was not necessary to have people info in Accounting. That’s the thinking behind our choices. But, I love hearing others’ thoughts.
I can say that we’ve not looked at moving off of Servant Keeper and ACS in a while, but that we’ve never needed or wished that we could migrate to just one platform. Our thinking, though, we are small, is that asking one platform to be a well designed, functional, one stop shop is generally asking to pay a lot more than discrete components, or that we’d have to forgo some of the functionality that we currently enjoy.
Maybe there’s a way to target smaller churches that are more likely to enjoy the cost savings of keeping the accounting component separate. From the looks of it, Churchteams would be of interest to us if we were considering moving away from Servant Keeper.
We currently use Church Teams for some of our groups and for all of our registrations. We use ACS for membership and finances and Push Pay for online giving. One of our former campuses that has become a church plant uses Church Teams for everything but finances and loves it. I honestly liked Church Teams myself and wasn’t happy when we moved back to ACS for membership and check-in (long story about why we switched back which honestly didn’t have anything to do with CT lacking functionality). CT support was honestly one of the best that I have dealt with. The security thing was my big beef with CT which is why I didn’t fight it when we switched back to ACS. As Boyd said, this has been fixed.
As said we still use CT for some adult groups because we love the email based attendance. ACS doesn’t have this. If we would have waited two weeks before signing with Push Pay we probably would still be using CT for online giving. I didn’t like the old way CT did online giving but two weeks after we signed with Push Pay they rolled out a major overhaul to giving and it’s basically like Push Pay but at a FRACTION of the cost.
Push Pay registrations were awful so we went back to CT for our registrations and payments. They make it easy when camps and mission trips require multiple payments including pay as much and as often as you can as we do with mission trips.
CT is very functional but I will say the back end interface isn’t that pretty and makes it seem like an unimpressive and cheap platform when in reality it is a very robust and powerful platform overall.
In all honesty, I have one client on Churchteams and I’ve been trying now and then to coax them off for a while and I think I’m getting close. I absolutely hate the way passwords and login work on the platform (all their small group leaders share a password, all the admins share another password, so on and so forth) and I think it’s a major liability in countries that have data protection laws because it doesn’t meet the unique username+password=one individual person standard. I was looking through the settings but I didn’t see anything there to enable unique login on a per-user basis the last time I was inside Churchteams. For giggles, I’ll pop into it now with that shared admin password… looking at it right now, It’s still a single password for all admins, one for all community leaders, one for all overseers, one for all cell group leaders, etc.
Now all that being said, aside from the interface being somewhat cryptic (even as an IT expert I’m not sure how to use the “communicate” function, there’s no way the 65 year old church admin will figure it out even though she’s a Mailchimp pro), it is otherwise a serviceable platform that I’m largely okay with. One area that all the ChMS’s need to get on board with is Zapier and/or Microsoft Flow integration. Churches need easy ways to integrate their data across platforms (especially for easily getting email addresses plunked down into newsletter platforms or moving donations on over into accounting suites). I’d also be interested, and this isn’t nearly as critical, in seeing a Wordpress plugin so that churches using it don’t need to fuss with iframes because I’ve seen Churchteams iframes flip out sometimes on Wordpress when there was a Redis cache.
Hey Isaac - Church Teams implemented individual passwords awhile ago but it has to be activated. I bet the church hasn’t done this. It was an easy process for us when we did it. I agree that was one of my issues with CT but that has been fixed for awhile.
Hmm, popped into the settings → Security → Passwords page and there is no “Individual User Accounts / Passwords” option, just the various passwords for the different groups. Very strange… possibly not implemented for whichever server Southeast Asia is using?
EDIT: Just noticed they don’t have things like “Volunteers”… or “Registrations”… either which are supposed to be a features that were added in there. I don’t think my client has been getting updates.
We had a brief discussion about church management systems at our last regional round table. It piqued my interest because though I am now doing/learning general IT, I’ve been a church database administrator for much longer. There was one guy who was very positive about Church Teams. I had never heard of it before, but made a mental note about it. At one point someone said that it’s best to keep what you have even if it’s not perfect because the process of moving to another one is such a big task and no product out there is going to be perfect. A lot of heads nodded, except the Church Teams guy. So, thought you might like to know that you have a very satisfied customer there.
I’m relatively happy with what we have but try to keep a pulse on the church database field. I do this just in case something is actually worth moving to (not right now) and to be ready when the senior pastor comes to me with an ad for something else. By the way, that’s ‘strike one’ for me right there - if their product is worth it, they shouldn’t have to target pastors with marketing. Seems to me, the best church software products out there do very little advertising. Their reputation will speak for itself.
Love the honest feedback. If your client is using the shared password system it’s because they haven’t made the switch. Please encourage them to do that. It will help them do better auditing of what’s going on and set them up to be able to use some of the customized user experience things we have on the drawing board for the next year or two.
Mark, my partner, was a software architect for Experion tasked to integrate some of their acquistions before being able to be at Churchteams full time. From that experience he has led us to focus on building to match functionality people like rather integrating across platforms. For us this focuses on People Data particularly. Thus our email tool that we built on MailChimp’s platform. Our front end for online/text giving. Building the Text to database interface ourselves. So, it is a different way at looking at the problem for sure.
Interesting that you mentioned the Communicate button, I was just thinking about that this morning. I’ll share the WP plugin idea with the team as well.
Thank you Eric. Yes, I think even Isaac’s experience is that we have some great clients. I think one reason is that support is a big deal for us. We use Matthew 7:12 as our guide for support and the staff used to work on a church staff using Churchteams so they aren’t working through decision cards to figure out a problem. And, frankly, our clients are our best resource for input on development at all levels. For 8 years I was still on church staff while we were boot-strapping development. I became convinced of that then.
If you haven’t checked it out, our Text-to-Church interface really is a new UX for guests, members, leaders, and volunteers. Staff love it as well. It’s like Amazon Echo or Google Home except text instead of voice interaction with the database. It’s worth knowing about at least.
Also, I love your thoughts about marketing!! That is a really helpful reminder.
So as a followup to the individual passwords, it turns out that there was a higher level administrative user that one of the deacons did vaguely remember that he had an old password written down for (from 2009 I believe). I was pretty surprised, I can’t say it’s the first time it slipped a client’s mind that there were higher access levels, but it’s usually pretty obvious when it happens. Probably not something anybody will run into unless it’s a legacy user, as Boyd pointed out the new tenants are not on shared password access by default.