An Overview of Getting Started
Thank you for choosing Church Social! It is our hope that it will be a blessing to your church. The following article outlines some key next steps as you begin to introduce Church Social to your congregation. Remember, we are here to help. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Import your membership records
As a first step, you'll want to import your membership records into Church Social. We've done our best to simplify this process. If you have your data available in an Excel format, you can use our people import tool. Otherwise, simply go to the people section and start adding members manually. Alternatively, you can send us your membership records in an Excel format, and we can do the import for you.
Create pastoral groups
Many churches organize their members within pastoral groups called wards, districts or parishes, and assign those groups to the care of office bearers such as elders and deacons. If your church has these groups, we recommend creating them even before you import your members.
Review your church settings
A quick review of your church's settings will better personalize the app for your congregation. In particular, be sure to add your church address so it will appear in the members map. You can also edit some of the language so that settings and categories are more applicable to your congregation.
Inviting your congregation
New customers often ask us how to best introduce Church Social to their congregation. And while you're free to do this however you'd like, we've found the following process to work quite well.
- Put an announcement in the bulletin indicating to the congregation that as a council you've decided to use Church Social to manage your congregation's membership records. Note that in addition to being an administrative tool, Church Social can also be used by all members in your congregation to share information (schedules, events, sermons, files, etc) and send messages to each other. Note that you'll be in touch with more information over the next weeks, but invite the congregation to ask questions, should they have any. It helps members feel part of the process.
- Import all your membership records into Church Social. Be sure to include all known email addresses for these members.
- Create a one-page information sheet to put in your church mailboxes explaining what Church Social is, what it can do, and how it will benefit the congregation. Also explain that members can login to view information, and simply need to share their email address to participate. Be sure to explain to the congregation that Church Social is safe and secure. To help you with this, we've created a template as a starting point.
- The same week that the information sheet goes in the mailbox, also include another short bulletin announcement about it, drawing attention the information sheet in their mailbox.
- After the Sunday where the information sheets were shared, send invites to the congregation from within Church Social. We recommend doing this right away on Monday, while it's still fresh in everyone's minds. This can be done easily within Church Social, in bulk, and will send each member unique login information. Again, you can only invite members with an email address set.
- The following Sunday, we recommend a third bulletin announcement about it, simply as a reminder, and inviting members to share their email address.
- Over the next weeks and months, continue to on-board other members as they request login, and share their email addresses.
Send invite emails
You can bulk send invite emails to your congregation directly from within Church Social. Here's how:
- Go to the People page. Note you must be an Administrator to view this page.
- Click on the three-dot options dropdown in the top right of the screen, located to the right of the Add Person button, and then choose Invite people.
- Click the checkbox beside all the members that you wish to invite to your Church Social account. Note, this page will only list members with an email address set who have not previously been invited.
- Click the Send invites button to send these members the invite email.
As mentioned above, it's always a good idea to give members in your congregation a heads-up that an invite email is coming from Church Social. The weekly church bulletin is a great place for this.
Addressing concerns about security
As you introduce Church Social to your congregation, you'll receive questions about the security of the platform, or the privacy of the member data. These are good questions! It's good to make members aware that their information (name, birthday, anniversaries and contact information) is only visible privately to other members in the church. Further, note that there are additional privacy settings available, should members not want specific pieces of information shown to other members. You can find more information about our security practices on our security page.
It's also common for there to be a few members who are totally uncomfortable with their information being moved online. We find it best not to push these members too hard. Utilize the privacy settings as needed. Be patient and understanding with them. Church Social will still be beneficial, even if a few members of the congregation do not participate.