A while back, I posted an entry concerning church management software. At that point, our church was trying to decide between three different options. My associate was doing the legwork of research, and he gave a brief synopsis of each program. After weighing all the pros and cons, we finally landed on our choice.

Drumroll. . . . We chose to go with The City, by Zondervan. The City is an online-based church management software that focuses strongly on the organization and coordination of groups within your church. Someone once described it as “Jesus Facebook,” as its format strongly resembles Facebook. The cost is a yearly fee based upon your number of potential users. I would encourage you check out The City. Here are some ways The City has benefited our church ministry.

1. Group organization—Our adoption of The City took place around the same time as our new small group ministry. This was a huge blessing and allowed us to quickly organize and communicate with each group. When we set up The City, we created as many groups as possible: deacons’ group, nursery workers’ group, ladies’ ministry group, youth group parents’ group, etc. After the invitations have been accepted, the leader can communicate with the whole group simultaneously. The leader types a message on the discussion board, and The City sends it out to everybody’s e-mail. A leader never has to worry about having updated e-mail addresses, because the users keep their own information current.

2. Church directory—This program will take the place of a standard church directory. When people join The City, they are prompted to create a profile and to upload a picture. Also, they enter vital information like phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, and other family members. The directory never goes out of date because the users update their own information. Additionally, folks who are new to the church join The City and are immediately a part of the directory.

3. Event planning—Within each group is an event planning tool. The event organizer names the event, enters the time and address of the event, and lists things for people to bring. The invitation is sent to all those in the group. When group members receive the invitation, they mark whether they will attend or not, and they mark what they are going to bring. That information is posted back on the event’s main page, and it automatically keeps a tally of attendees, as well as manages the list of things to bring. People in our church have enjoyed using these features.

4. Discussion board—This has been especially helpful in working with our deacons. I will post a discussion topic, and when the guys reply, the reply is posted on the discussion board page with all of the responses in the order of when they were posted. This is far better than discussing something over e-mail using “reply all”; I have found those e-mail discussions difficult and confusing. The City has enhanced our monthly meetings, because in many cases we have already covered some ground in discussing topics on The City.

5. Posting from e-mail—When something is posted in a group, a notification is sent to the user’s e-mail address. In order to respond, the user does not have to log on to The City. The user can hit “reply” from his or her e-mail, and the message will automatically be posted in the appropriate spot on The City.

6. Talent stewardship—As users build their profiles, they are asked to “update their skills.” The City includes a list of various talents and areas of service within the church. People simply mark the appropriate boxes. Church leaders or group leaders can search for people by skills. As an example, when we were interested in finding people who wanted to be greeters, we went to The City and searched for people under the heading “Greeters.” The site brought up 24 people who had marked the box to be a greeter. I typed a message in a little box below the list, and The City sent out the message to all of those people. I asked them to respond so we could improve our greeting ministry.

The potential uses of The City are unlimited. We have found great success in using the program, and we anticipate that its usefulness will only increase. If you are looking for good church management software, I encourage you to consider The City.