Church Community Builder Implementation Journal Part 8: Departments


One helpful general piece of advice from Grahame from EV Church (thanks for your help Grahame!) was: ‘Make sure you set up your departments and groups to reflect reality’. That’s a hard thing to do in practice. But it’s a good reminder to think hard about how you will actually use the software. Don’t give this setup job to an IT geek or office lady in your church who doesn’t really get how your ministry functions. It is a ministry tool, not an admin tool.

We went for the ‘Standard’ solution rather than ‘Deluxe’ and I think that was a wise move. However, if I had fully understood what ‘Coaches’ and ‘Departments’ were, I would have been tempted to adopt ‘Deluxe’: after all it is not that much more expensive - maybe $200 more a year?

The advantage of ‘Departments’ is that it allows you to have several layers of leaders and communication:

  1. A Department Head: say ‘Small Groups Department Leader’

  2. Coaches: say ‘Small Group Regional Overseers’

  3. Leaders and Assistant Leaders: the leaders of the individual groups

Not only does this allow you to give a bit more organisation to how your groups are ordered, it also helps with, for example communication.

Rather than having to create a separate group called ‘Small Group Leaders’ in order to bulk message them, or a separate group called ‘Small Group Regional Leaders’ to bulk message THEM - and then make sure that everyone is in every group they need to be in… You can simply put them in the one group and then email:

  1. Everyone in the department: eg all small group members, leaders, regional overseers

  2. All the leaders: eg all of the small group leaders, across all the groups and regions

  3. All the leaders or all the members in a region

  4. All the coaches: eg all the regional leaders

Unfortunately Departments and Coaches can’t host events. These need to be hosted by one group which then invites all the others. Or a dummy group called ‘Host Group’ could be created to host these events.

Departments and the Standard Version

The Standard Version has at least three things lacking from this setup:

  1. No coaches feature. So there’s one level in the hierarchy missing - you have to create a separate group for regional leaders

  2. No message a department feature: You have to use Mail Merge to do that

  3. No custom-departments: you have to use their out-of-the-box departments.

We used the ‘out-of-the-box’ department ‘Teaching / Management’ for our Small Groups, so that rather than creating a separate group called ‘Small Group Leaders’ we can simply go to ‘Mail Merge’ and email all the leaders in the Teaching / Management Department.

via Blog - Christian Reflections (NB: to comment go to