2. My ChurchSuite user guide

Introduction

Welcome to My ChurchSuite! My ChurchSuite is what we call the church member-facing side of ChurchSuite. While your church's ministry leaders, staff and pastors will use the admin-facing system to help them manage the church, we've created a great system for you too; to help you keep your details up to date and to help you access and engage with the life and activity of what's going on at your church.

Important note

It's important to say at the outset that access to My ChurchSuite for any church member is a decision of your church leaders - there's no automatic access or entitlement. Access is granted by invitation; a process that starts with your church sending you an email invitation; so it's important your church has your correct email address! That invitation email contains a unique login-link that is used to access My ChurchSuite for the first time and to set your password.

While this user guide outlines all the features in My ChurchSuite, it is possible that your leaders have chosen to disable or restrict certain features, or simply do not have certain modules on their system at all. If you are having difficulty accessing a particular feature, you should speak to your leaders in the first instance to see if it available and has been enabled for you.

My ChurchSuite and Under 18s!

My ChurchSuite is only currently available for adult contacts in your Address Book module. For safeguarding reasons we strongly discourage churches from trying to circumnavigate this by putting children contacts in the Address Book module. Apart from potential safeguarding and data protection issues, those children will be prevented from participating in the other Children module functionality - like check-in, medical/special needs/consents, groups and group attendance etc.

Here's an example of the My ChurchSuite home page in a web browser. It's styled for our fictitious demonstration church. Your home page will be styled with your church's logo and colour scheme, so it should feel familiar to you.

Navigating My ChurchSuite

My ChurchSuite runs within a web browser and also in our free iOS or Android apps (available from the respective app stores). App navigation follows traditional app navigation principles - clicking backwards, swipe, single-click menus etc. My ChurchSuite is also fully responsive, which means that webpages resize automatically to suit the screen size of smaller devices like laptops, smart phones and tablets. We've created a separate support article for the apps - see the related articles section at the end of this guide. For the purposes of this guide though, we'll use screenshots taken from within a browser environment.

After logging in to My ChurchSuite, the home page is displayed.

Navigation is via the menu on the left hand side of the screen. This menu is always visible. You can either use use your browsers navigation buttons to go backwards at any time, or use the menu options (or the 'back' button in our apps).

We'll now work through each of the menu options in turn - continue scrolling or click a link to jump to a particular section of interest.

My ChurchSuite menu options...

Home
My Communications
My Children
My Events
My Groups
My Rotas
My Giving
My Podcast
Search for Others
Custom external links

Home

The home page displays a brief welcome message from your church and displays the next three upcoming featured events at your church. Clicking on a featured event will take you straight into the event page to see more information. You can even sign-up there, if applicable - your contact details are pre-populated into the sign-up form, so all you need to do is click 'sign up'! You can even pay for tickets by card for your church's pay events - it simple, secure and helps your church with their event management.

Scrolling down the home page, on the right is a summary of recent communications sent to you from your church (see below) - perhaps a rota reminder or the latest e-news bulletin from your church. And on the left is the "My Details" section, which shows a summary of the contact information your church holds about you on their database.

Clicking the pencil icon in the top right corner of the My Details window will open the page to allow you to edit or update your details, perhaps adding missing information - that's always helpful to churches!

A key area of interest to you will be your privacy settings. While your contact details are never visible to anyone outside of your church, you can still manage the level of information you want shared with other My ChurchSuite members in your church.

Ordinarily your name should always be set as visible - this is so that you show as visible on rotas that you serve on and also to fellow group members and leaders of any small group you attend. Being totally invisible in Christian community is counter-productive and will make it more difficult for your leaders and co-members to do their roles!

Beyond your name being visible (which can only be set by your church), you now have the option to set which other contact information you will allow others to see. It's helpful to at least set a contact phone number and/or email address, for example.

In the same way, you can only the see contact details of others in your church based on their privacy settings too. Importantly, no children contact details are ever displayed. Parents may be able to see and manage their own children's details, but it is never possible to view the details of other children - the only small exception to this is if they are serving on a rota or are part of a small group - in this case only their name is visible to other rota team members, ministry overseers, fellow small group members and their small group leader. A further exception would be if they were signed up for one of your church's events, in which case an event overseer will be able to see their sign-up details along with those of all the other people who have signed up.

Updating your marital/relationship status

As part of managing your contact details, your church may allow the martial/relationship status to be editable to allow linking of contacts together. Some of the marital statuses require confirmation before the contacts will be linked. When you select engaged, married or cohabiting as a status, an email is automatically sent to the other contact asking them to confirm the marital/relationship status. The contacts will only be linked when the other partner clicks the 'confirm' link in that confirmation email.

Beyond privacy settings, you can update and add in any missing information. It's not helpful to your church if you delete data, as your leaders will no longer be able to contact you. If there is any information you are not comfortable about them holding, speak to your leaders first to understand why it's helpful for them to store that data. Remember, their desire is to serve you well, and having useful information allows pastors and leaders to do that better!

By now we hope you will already know that your leaders are not in the habit of spamming you with unnecessary emails! It is possible, however, for you to opt out of SMS text messages and emails. Be aware that opting out will prevent your leaders from ever being able to email or text you - which isn't helpful if they need to communicate with you, or you want to receive your churches communications. Remember, these communications also include things like rota reminders, group emails and swap requests, so if you opt out, you will no longer receive these either.

Finally, you can manage your own password. You can also upload an image to go with your My ChurchSuite profile. As your church grows, it helpful if there's a picture of you looking beautiful to help people identify you (and for you to be able to identify others), especially if you have a role in the church that requires you to be known. Lastly, you can optionally connect My ChurchSuite to your social logins, making it easier for you to login with social logins, rather than needing to remember My ChurchSuite login details, if you wish.

Remember to save any changes you make. Then press the Home option to return to the home page once more.

My Communication

You can easily view previous emails and text messages that have been sent to you from the My Communication page. Please note that My ChurchSuite is not an email client, so it's not possible to forward or reply to messages from your My Communications page - for this you would need to use your preferred email application. Essentially it's intended to be a simple way of viewing recent messages your church has sent you.

My Children

If you're a parent, this menu option allows you to manage the information your church holds about each of your children. You can even add new children without needing to ask someone in the church office to do it.

Just like the My Details page for adults, clicking on the pencil icon in the top-right corner of a child will take you into their details so that you can update or add missing information. Only you as parent (and your leaders of course) can see this information - it is never made visible anywhere else, or to other church members, in My ChurchSuite.

The My Children area is a great way to help your kid's leaders care best for your children. Dates of birth, for example, ensure children are assigned to correct groups. You can also keep you church informed of medical conditions, allergies or special needs, and set parental consents for photo/video at the church.

There's also a place to enter a note of a child's school. This information is really helpful for your church to understand friendship groups that might exist between children of the same age at the same school.

Remember to save any changes you make.

My Events

My Events is your church's events calendar and information about upcoming featured events in the life of your church.

Selecting a date on the calendar (located just under the featured events list), will filter the list of events happening on just that date. Clicking on an event will open the event page and give you more information. Where applicable you'll also be able to sign-up and/or get tickets for your church's free and pay events (see below), including being able to pay for tickets online. All your details are pre-populated into the event sign-up page, so it's really easy to sign-up with just a few clicks.

If you're designated as an overseer for an event, you'll also have some additional functionality on the event page for events you oversee. For example, at the bottom of the event page you'll see the current sign-up list, showing you exactly who's signed up for the event so far. Clicking on a 'sign-up' will show you all their sign-up information and sign-up question responses. You can even download the sign-up list to a CSV file.

My Groups

My Groups is all about the small groups in your church. The top of the page, titled My Groups, is the group(s) that you are already a member of or are signed up to. Click on your group(s) to see the group information (see below). The group email button is located in the top right corner. This is ideal for circulating prayer requests or group information.

A notes about the group email feature: (1) Originators of group emails can set whether replies go to just themselves or to all other group members. (2) Only group members can use the group email address - it's a closed group email system. (3) It's not possible (currently) to add attachments to emails, but you can include hyperlinks; perhaps to files stored in Dropbox, for example. (4) It's not possible to restrict email circulation - it goes to all group members. Therefore, one-to-one, private messages should not be sent using this feature. (5) On receiving a group email, the message makes it clear whether replies are sent to the entire group, or just the sender.

(6) Group emails sent, and any replies, are all recorded in your My Communication page. (7) Group emails are sent to all group members who have a valid email address and have not opted out of receiving church emails in their communication settings. (8) A group email sent with "Send replies just to me" will disclose the sender's email address in the reply-to field of the email so that replies are routed back to just the sender (irrespective of whether "email is visible in My ChurchSuite" has been set to not be visible - it's not possible to send an email requesting replies to "just me" and not have your email address disclosed. (9) A group email sent with "Send replies to me and all other [group] members" will disclose the private group email address in the reply-to field of the email so that replies are routed back to all group members without disclosing all the group member email addresses. 

Helpfully, small group leaders have additional functionality on their small group page that allows them to record their group's attendance and manage the details and members for their group.

To record your group's attendance, click the attendance button at the top of the group page (shown above). You can then submit group attendance, entering the meeting date and ticking names of attendees. Add any optional meeting notes or names of visitors. You can even tick to indicate if your group didn't meet on a date.

Selecting "Edit" from the top of your small group page allows you to manage the meeting details and members for your small group.

Here you can manage all the group meeting details (see below), remove existing members or search for and add new group members. You'll only see, or be able to search for those people whose privacy settings permit. You'll need to speak to the church office if you can't locate a member in the search, or if you have someone new join your group who wishes to have their details added to the church database. This can't be done (currently) in My ChurchSuite.

Note that removing a group member does not delete their historic group attendance, however it does prevent them from being able to participate in group emails. Additionally, assigning roles within your small group is a function that can only be done by your leaders within ChurchSuite. It's not possible to add, assign or remove small group roles in My ChurchSuite.

If you're a member of a small group, you'll be able to view a list of fellow group members on your small group page within My Groups. Remember that a member's visibility is dependent on their own privacy settings. Clicking on a member's name in the list will pop up their contact details (subject to their privacy settings of course). No children contact details are ever shown.

To help group leaders with pastoral care in small groups, they can view recent group attendance; perhaps to identify that person who might be falling away from the group, or reaching out to those who've been finding it hard to attend recently. Your church leaders will also find small group attendance useful - it's a helpful indicator of small group ministry health, plus it helps them to identify growth needs and plan for new groups in the future.

If you're a designated cluster overseer, you'll have an extra section on the My Groups page (see below), showing the groups within your cluster. Overseers have the ability to view the attendance and member lists of the small groups within their cluster. Note that it is not possible for overseers to change any of the group meeting details, or add or remove group members, or submit attendance.

Signing up for small groups

One of the great features of My Groups (if enabled by your church) is the ability for you to view the list of small groups in your church so that you can find the group that's right for the you - perhaps a group that meets on a certain day, or in a certain location, or that has a particular emphasis or focus. Just scroll down to the "Sign Up" part of the My Groups page.

It's even possible for you to sign-up to one or more small groups with just a single button click; and because you're logged in to My ChurchSuite, the system has all the information it needs to add you to the group. What's more, the small group leaders will get an immediate email notification to let them know that you've signed up, so you'll probably get a welcome message from them and a phone call to invite you to the next group meeting!

...And if you signup to a group by mistake, you can easily un-signup too! Just click 'Cancel group signup'.

My Rotas

The My Rotas page displays all your upcoming serving commitments. You'll only see the My Rotas page if you have future serving dates on any current church rotas, or if there are rotas published that you can sign up to.

At the top of the My Rotas page is the "Next Serving" section (shown above), detailing your upcoming serving - dates, rotas and possibly your role(s) on those dates.

Dates shown in red indicate that a rota clash. In the example above, there's a clash because this person is on both the Lighting Team and the Carpark Directors team at the same time. Some clashes are legitimate - it's perfectly possible to be on multiple teams in a Sunday service, for example. Some clashes, however, might require you to swap or ask to be removed from a rota.

Dates shown in red strikethrough relate to unavailability that you've scheduled and that your ministry overseer has not yet replaced you on the rota for. When you add unavailability, you might see entries in your 'next serving' section turn from green to red strikethrough - that's happens when you're already on a rota and either you need to swap with someone else, or your ministry overseer now needs to remove/replace you on the rota (depending on your church's unavailability policy).

Scrolling down the My Rotas page further is the Unavailability section (see above). Here you can add a note of your unavailability - perhaps holidays or known dates when you won't be available to serve. Adding unavailability sets you as unavailable for all rotas in that date range - so you can't set yourself unavailable for one rota but available for another - you'd need to liaise with your ministry overseer to communicate that if this is the case.

By adding your unavailability, overseers can manage rotas more effectively; planning ahead and identifying gaps and shortages ahead of time. Unless your overseer has already encouraged everyone to add their unavailability, we encourage you to still communicate with them to let them know if you have added unavailability at short notice.

Note that you cannot edit unavailability once it has been added, but you can remove it and add new unavailability, if applicable.

Beneath the Unavailability section are all the rotas that you are set to serve on that still have future serving dates that you're on. Once a rota lapses or your final serving date on a rota passes, the rota will disappear from the list.

Rotas with a green traffic light (see image above) on the right hand side are published rotas - they are live to all rota members. Ministry overseers may also see their rotas with a red traffic light, indicating that they are draft rotas that are only visible to them and not yet visible to rota members. Essentially overseers can plan ahead, create rotas and work on them without them being visible to rota members until they are ready to be published.

Clicking into a rota displays the rota dates and the members and roles serving on those dates. Depending on the rota functionality enabled by your church, it may be possible to sign up to future dates on the rota, to organise swaps with others, or add your unavailability.

Selecting "Organise swap" (if feature enabled), allows you to record details of the person with whom you have already made arrangements to swap with (i.e. you can't inflict a swap on someone!) You can only record swaps with people who are already a member of the ministry. Select their name from the "Swap with" drop-down list, and then add details of any return swap you have agreed. Saving the changes will update the rota immediately.

After adding a rota swap, an email confirmation will be sent to you confirming you are no longer serving on that date, and to the swapee confirming to them that they are now serving on that date. A further email is sent to the ministry overseer advising the swap transaction.

Note, it is not possible for rota members to edit their roles - this is an overseer function that must be amended on a rota by them. When swapping, the swapee will inherit the same role as the swapper. If in doubt, contact your overseer to advice them what is happening and let them update the rota, as they have greater functionality that allows them to manage team member roles from within My ChurchSuite.

Some rotas might have sign-up enabled...

...so overseers might publish empty or part-completed rotas, and then invite ministry members to sign up to future dates based on their availability. It's a great way of recruiting and helps team members too, because they can manage their serving commitments based on their known availability. You can sign up to a rota date whenever you see "Sign up for this date" on the rota (depending on your church's rota sign-up policy of course).

Rota functionality for ministry overseers

Overseers have full functionality that allows them to manage their rotas within My ChurchSuite. If you're an overseer you'll be able to: -

  • Manage teams and team members within your ministry, including adding/removing members to teams and assigning roles.
  • Create draft rotas and publish them.
  • Manage rota members on the rota page, including adding/removing people from rota dates, swapping people, adding/removing dates on the rota.
  • Add notes to dates on the rota, to communicate important information for rota members on that date.
  • Enabling rota sign-up and managing maximum sign-up numbers for individual dates or the entire rota.
  • Add and manage unavailability for all serving team members.
  • Receive clash notifications and manage responses.

Full details of the ministry overseer functionality is covered in the related articles referenced at the end of this article.

My Giving

Here you can see a summary of your personal donations to your church, including the funds that your donations have been assigned to, the dates and methods you gave, and the reclaimed Gift Aid (UK) or tax deductible status (US).

You can filter the list of donations displayed, perhaps to just see a particular tax year or filing year. There's also a "Donate" button that takes you to your church's online giving portal, where you can easily set up one-time or recurring donations to your church.

Scrolling further down the page you can set up financial pledges to your church, perhaps to support a building campaign, a mission, or simply the regular tithes and offerings of your church...

...entering details of the Fund, frequency and amount(s) - see below. You can also specify the date range of your pledge, or leave the end date blank if it to run until further notice. Changes to pledges can only be made by your church's finance office; it is not possible to make changes within My ChurchSuite.

Essentially, your church matches the donations you make against your pledges, so you'll always be able to see your up to date pledge progress. Importantly, pledges (if this feature is enabled), help your church to budget; knowing what income they can anticipate, and then plan accordingly. Pledges are a great way of being accountable in our financial stewardship, with a helpful visual reminder each time you view your My Giving page.

Finally, for UK churches, is the Gift Aid Declarations section, where you can view the active Gift Aid declarations held by your church. You can add new declarations at any time.

When adding a declaration you can specify a backdated start date of up to 4 years (under current legislation), allowing you church to reclaim back-dated Gift Aid on past gifts for up to four previous years from the date of your declaration. The declaration will remain active until the end date is reached. Leaving the end date blank will set it active until further notice. Note that it is not possible to cancel a declaration within My ChurchSuite - this must be communicated to your church finance office for action.

My Podcast

Catch up on missed sermon messages in the My Podcast page. It's great on a smart phone or table - sermons on the go, all from within My ChurchSuite!

Sermon messages can be group by series, and they can be presented in audio or video format depending on your church's media setup and podcast configuration.

This is the My ChurchSuite contact directory provided by your church for church members. If enabled, your church may restrict which church members can access this feature, and also restrict church members will display in search results (perhaps excluding newcomers, for example, who may not yet be on My ChurchSuite themselves).

It's therefore possible you might not find the person you are looking for - you'll need to contact your church office if this is the case.

Remember, you'll only be able to view the contact details of others based on their personal privacy settings. In the example above, John Abraham has chosen to not set any contact details visible to others. Clicking on a contact displays a pop-up contact card.

The remaining items you might possibly see on the menu after "Search for Others" are what we call "external links". These are links to external websites and resources that your church may have set up for you. Your church may also have set some links to only be available to some groups of people, but not to others - this is so the content they provide you is relevant to you. If you think there are missing external links, contact your church office.

External links can include things like a link to your church's website, or social media pages, or perhaps resources like kid's curriculum, leader resources or small group resources. Why not let your church know if there are further external links that you think might be useful to have.

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