Databases/ChMS for Aussie Churches

781602_index_box Whether your church has 50 or 5000 people, you need to store information about them. At the very least that information is their address and phone number, in a larger scenario it would extend to group involvement, rosters, donations, attendance etc. In the olden days (BC – before computers) this was done on index cards and the like. Today a small church may maintain a list of people in an Excel spreadsheet. These are all tools, and as the church becomes more and more tech savvy the range of tools on offer is ever expanding.

This post is not meant to be a review as I haven’t seen all of these products firsthand, but it’s merely a pointer to some of the tools that are out there and are suitable to Aussie churches.

Pastoral Care

This is the grand-daddy of Aussie church database software. Now up to version 10, it seems like it’s been around since the dawn of time. It’s an old style Windows application and is probably best suited to small churches with one or two PCs in the office.
http://www.pastoralcare.com.au/

Nspire

This is originally a US product, but has been Aussie-fied by a Melbourne based developer. I have heard nothing but good reports from the Aussie churches that use it.
http://www.nspiresoftware.com.au/

iChurch

Developed by Sydney based software house Smardox, iChurch has been built to satisfy the needs of what is probably Australia’s largest church (and one of the worlds). iChurch is a hosted solution that uses a Windows based client. There is also a web-portal for your church members called miChurch. Their check-in system for kids church was also one of the first products in the world to natively support biometric scanning (finger prints).
http://www.smartdox.com/

Fellowship One

This is a US based hosted solution. In recent times they have started to take international needs seriously (someone must have bought an atlas and release there were other places outside of the US) and have added features that are applicable to Aussie churches. Aside from the check-in module that requires a small Windows appication, the whole system is web based, so there is nothing to install and can be used anywhere on any platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile). They’ve even released an iPhone/iPod Touch app: F1Touch, which while pretty basic at the moment, is a good first step.
http://fellowshiptech.com/
http://www.closethebackdoor.com/

So that’s it. Used any of the above? Had good or bad experiences? Got some other suggestions? Tell the world by leaving your thoughts in the comments.

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11 Responses to Databases/ChMS for Aussie Churches

  1. Mark White says:

    I know I’m biased here but would have to add ArenaChMS to this list. Used by some of the biggest ministries in the US because of the flexibility and extensibility of the platform.

    follow us at @ourarena

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  2. Neville Eldridge says:

    There are many ChMS out there available to Australian churches. Our church culled from something like 20 down to three for assessment. Let me say from the outset that the choice of a ChMS will depend on your requirements and any church should do a thorough requirements analysis before even looking at a ChMS. Having said that our church (a large Anglican church in Sydney) went with CCB (Church Community Builder), an entirely web-based service hosted in the U.S. (at the moment). Our requirements were based around a desire for a SaaS solution, entirely web-based (no installed desktop component), availability to ALL church members not just the admin office, calendar availability at church, group and public levels (subsets available for groups and public), availability for use by our small group network to create their own events and communicate together, ability to run surveys and register for events on-line and link this to payments, ability to integrate the application into our website, availability on IPhone or PDA, define processes so that, for example, our welcoming process can be defined in the ChCMS and have new people put in the hands of the most relevant staff member, a child check-in system, mail-merge, a flexible security system that can be tailored to our needs, customisable fields and pull-down fields specific for our church, an open database with an API. You will need to ensure that the company you go with is financially secure into the future, have a responsive support capability with training available at different levels. CCB, for example has training by help menus, training videos and webinar capabilities. I have been in IT for over 30 years and CCB’s support and training is one of the best. No ChMS will be perfect. CCB matched all the above requirements with the exception of the API, but it is being worked on and we look forward to that release. If you want to open up your ChMS to all or some of your church members and enable them to interact as a community, check out CCB. Contact me if you wish to discuss this further. I would be very pleased to talk to you.

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  3. Craig Hannay says:

    As a church we started using CCB (Community CHurch Builder). One of the greatest features of CCB is beinb totally web based so you can as a Pastor or team leader connect with all of your database any where in the world and you can assign tasks from any where in the world to your team members.

    As already mentioned CCB many features that tick all of the boxes when it comes to the needs you want in a church database.

    CCB is committed to the ongoing development of their database and are always open to ideas suggested by the users of their programme and will develop new functions as needed.

    They are a great company to work with and I have found them very prompt intheir communications with me here in Australia.

    I would highly recommend the CCB database to any church and the CCB team if you are wanting a database that is expansive and friendly to use. They have great training options and ongoing support as needed or required.

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  4. Neil Nuttall says:

    Wow, it’s good to see all the great feedback. I really should have included Arena and CCB on my orginal list. They are both products worth looking at.

    I don’t know a whole lot about Arena, but from what I’ve seen it would suit churches whith a broad range of ministries and ages.

    I have seen a demo of CCB and to me it strenghts would be the social networking features and the event registrations. So it’s probaly suited best to churches that have a signifiant gen-Y membership and/or run a reasonable number of event/conferences.

    Keep the feedback coming.
    And remember, if you’re in charge of this kind of thing at an Aussie church join the CITRT Australia http://groups.google.com/group/citrt_au

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  5. […] having a blog is checking the stats (and comparing them to a mate’s). Checking out what your most popular post is and seeing how people found you. One of the more interesting stats is the Search Engine Terms. […]

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  6. […] Databases and Church Management Systems are a big deal for churches of all sizes. This was my attempt to point people in the right direction. Read the post here […]

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  7. Neil Nuttall says:

    Not too sure how well it would work for Aussie churches, but Tony Dye has posted about an open-source ChMS. Read about it here: http://tonydye.typepad.com/main/2010/04/an-open-source-chms-that-id-previously-missed.html

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  8. Neil Nuttall says:

    Some more info here…
    Links to ChMS comparison charts: http://www.equipthem.info/chms-comparison-charts/

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  9. Doug says:

    Neil – Thanks for your thoughts on church database systems on the phone today. Very helpful as we start this process!

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    • Neil Nuttall says:

      My pleasure Doug. Good speaking to you too.
      You’re about the fourth Melbourne church to contact me directly requesting info about ChMS (and I’ve had another couple elsewhere in Aus contact me via email).
      ChMS is going nuts down here.

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  10. […] 5. Databases/ChMS for Aussie Churches […]

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