2. My ChurchSuite user guide
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 ChurchSuite system to help them manage church administration, 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.
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 begins with your church sending you an email invitation; so it's important your church has your correct email address! If you've not received your invitation, get in touch with your church office and they'll get that sorted for you. The invitation email contains a unique login-link that is used to access My ChurchSuite for the first time and to set your password. Those without an email address will not be able to access My ChurchSuite.
If you share an email address with a partner you'll each receive separate personalised email invitations – be sure to click the link in your email and make sure that you set a different password to your partner; otherwise the system won't know who is logging in!
While this user guide outlines all the main features in My ChurchSuite, it is possible that your leaders have chosen to disable or restrict certain features, or they do not have certain features on their system at all. If you are having difficulty locating a particular feature you should speak to your church office in the first instance to see if it's available and has been enabled for you.
My ChurchSuite and Under 18s!
My ChurchSuite is only currently available for adult contacts in the church's Address Book module. For safeguarding reasons we strongly discourage churches from trying to circumnavigate this by adding children as 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 child check-in, medical/special needs/consents, children groups and group attendance etc.
Navigating My ChurchSuite
My ChurchSuite can be accessed through any web browser and using our free iOS and Android ChurchSuite apps (available from the respective app stores). App navigation follows traditional app navigation principles – clicking 'back', swipe, single-click menus etc. My ChurchSuite is fully responsive, which means that pages 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 iOS and Android app – 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.
To log in, head to login.churchsuite.com and follow the on-screen instructions to search for your church. Next, enter your email address, and when prompted, your password. Click Login. Note also the option to request a password reset email by clicking Forgotten Password?
Once you've successfully logged in, you're taken to the My ChurchSuite Home page. Your church's Home page will be styled with your church's logo and colour scheme, so it should feel familiar to you as you navigate around the sections.
Navigation in a web browser is via the Menu on the left hand side of the screen. This menu is always visible. You can either use use your browser's 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 to read each section or click a link below to jump to a particular section of interest.
My ChurchSuite menu options...
Home Page & My Details
The Home page displays a brief welcome message and shows the next three upcoming featured events at your church. Clicking on a featured event will take you straight into the event page to see further information about the event. You can even sign-up (if it's a sign-up event) – your contact details are pre-populated into the sign-up form. 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 and administration.
Scrolling down the home page, there's a My Communication summary of your recent communications sent to you from your church – perhaps a rota reminder or the latest e-news bulletin. And on the left is the My Details section, which shows a summary of the main contact information your church holds about you on their database. This information is only visible to you, unless you choose to set some of your basic contact details visible to others in the church through your privacy settings (see later).
Clicking the pencil icon in the top right corner of your details, or selecting the My Details menu option will open your Details page to enable you to review or update your personal information, perhaps adding missing information – that's always helpful to churches!
Updating your marital/relationship status
As part of managing your contact details, your church may allow the martial/relationship status to be editable to enable 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 marital status, an email is automatically sent to the other person asking them to confirm the marital status. The contacts will only be linked when the other partner clicks the 'confirm' link in that confirmation email.
On the Login tab you can change your password at any time...
A key area of interest will be your Privacy settings. While your contact details are never visible to anyone outside of your church, you can easily manage the level of basic contact information you are happy to be visible to other members in your church within My ChurchSuite. For example, it's helpful for at least a contact number and email address to be made visible, so that people can organise things like rota swaps. Note that only your address, telephone, mobile and email can be set visible (or not) – no other personal details, such as your date of birth or marital status, are ever visible to others.
Importantly, no children's contact details are ever displayed in My ChurchSuite. Parents may be able to see and manage their own children's details (see later), but it is never possible to view the details of other children. The only exception to this is if a child is serving on a rota or is part of a small group – in this case their name only is visible to other rota team members, ministry overseers, fellow small group members and the small group's leader. A further exception is if a child is signed up for one of your church's events, in which case an event's overseer will be able to see the child's sign-up details in My Events as part of being able to manage their event.
The Communication tab is where you'll manage your communication preferences – opting in or out of receiving general church communications and/or rota reminder communications. Do remember that opting out will prevent your church leaders from being able to keep in touch with you by these methods, meaning you may miss out on important church communications!
Remember to save any changes you make. Then press Home to return to the Home page once more.
You can easily view previous emails and SMS communications that have been sent to you by your church from the My Communication page. Please note that My ChurchSuite is not an email application, 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 My Communication is intended to be a simple way of viewing all your recent messages in one place. Click on any message to open the communication in view.
My Communication displays communications for the last six months, with a maximum of 50 items (whichever is fewer). Selecting any communication will open the message to view. Note: It's not possible to dismiss or hide 'read' communications – in this regard the My Communication section is not a mail folder.
The My Children menu is only visible to parents. The My Children page enables parents to manage the information for each of their children. Parents can even add new children without needing to ask someone in the church office to do it for them!
When there's an active Child Check-in session, the My Children page includes a Check-In QR code that parents can scan at the church's check-in station to quickly see a list of all their children within their system so that they can check them in quickly and easily. Once checked in, the parent pick-up passes are shown on the My Children page too (see below).
Just like the My Details page for adults, clicking on the pencil icon in the top-right corner of a child will take parents into the Details page for that child, where they can update or add missing information, such as medical conditions, allergies or special needs. Only parents (and your leaders of course) can see this information – it's never made visible to other church members in My ChurchSuite.
The child's Communication page is where parents manage their child's communication preferences – opting them in or out of receiving general church communications and/or rota reminder communications. Do remember that opting out will prevent your church leaders from being able to keep in touch with the child by these methods, meaning they may miss out on important church communications!
Finally, the Photo/Video Consent page is where parents can mange their child's photo and video consents for internal and external presentations.
My Events is your church's events calendar and upcoming featured events in the life of your church. You'll see any outstanding event invitations awaiting your response.
Scrolling further down the page is the searchable events calendar. Selecting a date on the calendar or typing into the "auto-complete" Search box will filter the list of events happening.
Clicking on any event will open the event page giving you further information about the event. Where applicable you may be able to sign-up, and for pay events, 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 an overseer for an event, you'll have additional functionality on the event page for the events that you oversee. At the bottom of the event page overseers will see the current Sign-ups list. Clicking on a 'sign-up' will show you all their sign-up information and sign-up question responses. Overseers can even download the sign-up list to a CSV file.
Overseers are also able to use the event Check-In feature to optionally record attendance at an event.
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 any of 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 to the group's members.
A note about the group email functionality (this applies to small group and rota group emails):
- When composing a group email from within My ChurchSuite you can set whether replies go to 'just you, the author', or to 'all group members'.
- When you send a group email from within My ChurchSuite or direct to the group's email address from outside of My ChurchSuite, you will receive a copy of the email in your inbox too.
- Only group members with an active status can use the group email feature or send an email to the group email address - in this regard it's a 'closed group' email system.
- Sent emails are never visible to anyone outside of the group and are not recorded within the your church's admin-facing ChurchSuite database.
- Anyone not an active group member attempting to send an email to the group email address will receive an email bounce notification explaining that their email was not delivered.
- It's not possible to add attachments to group emails composed within My ChurchSuite, but you can include hyperlinks - perhaps to a file stored in Dropbox, for example. However, if you compose and send the email from your regular email application to the group's email address, you can attach files to that email in the normal way - those attachments can be opened when viewing the email in My ChurchSuite.
- It's not possible to restrict group email circulation to a subset of the group or to an individual – a group email is just that - an email to the group; and will be delivered to all current, active group members that have an email address. Group emails are therefore not intended or suitable for private one-to-one messages.
- Care should be taken when replying to a group email. Where the sender has set for replies to be sent to all group members - like a discussion thread - any reply to that email will be sent it to all group members. It's not possible to reply to a "replies to all" email and for that reply to only be sent to the sender. The group email, when first sent, will make clear whether replies will be sent to the entire group, or just to the sender.
- Group emails sent, and any replies, are all listed in your My Communication page and are maintained for 6 months, with a maximum of 50 messages.
- Group emails are sent to group members who have a valid email address, even if they have opted out of receiving general emails from the church office - your communication options only relate to church emails, not group emails from the groups or rotas that you belong to.
- A group email sent with "Send replies just to me" will unavoidably disclose the sender's email address in the 'reply-to' field of the email, so that replies are routed back to just the sender's email address – it's not possible to send an anonymous email requesting replies to "just me" and not disclose a sender email address to the recipients!
- A group email sent with "Send replies to me and all other [group/rota] members" will only disclose the group email address in the 'reply-to' field of the email, so that replies are routed back to all group members without disclosing the sender's email address or the email address of other group members.
- A group member who chooses to remain invisible in My ChurchSuite (i.e. their name is set to not be visible), and a 'pending status' group member will not see the "Send Email" button, although they will still receive group emails sent by others.
Further down the group page is the group's Members list – however, your church may have set for the group's member list to not be visible.
Helpfully, small group leaders have additional functionality based on their role permissions that allows them to record their group's attendance and manage the details and members list for their group.
To record group 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, which will help your church with their group attendance reporting. Attendance recording is also an invaluable safeguarding record.
Selecting Edit from the top of the small group page allows leaders with appropriate role permissions to manage the meeting details for the group...
The Members section (see below) is where leaders can manage the group's member list; adding and removing people to/from the group.
When adding new people to the group, you'll only see, or be able to search, for those people whose privacy settings permit. You'll need to speak to your church office if you can't locate a new member through the search, or if you have someone new joins your group who wishes to have their details added to the church database – this can't be done in My ChurchSuite – although they may be able to submit their details by signing up to the group via your church website. Removing a group member retains all their historic group attendance, however it does prevent them from being able to participate in group emails.
To help group leaders with pastoral care in small groups, they can view recent group Attendance; perhaps to identify anyone 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.
The attendance summary (shown below) can also be used to make corrections to historic attendance entries – click on a date from the column headings listed in order to view or edit the attendance for that date.
If you're a designated Cluster overseer, you'll have an extra section in My Groups called Clusters, showing the groups within your cluster (see below). Overseers are able to click through and view the attendance and member lists of the small groups within their cluster. It's not possible for overseers to change any of the group meeting details, add or remove group members, or submit or edit group attendance.
Signing up for small groups
One of the great features of My Groups (if enabled by your church) is the ability to view the list of small groups in your church, find the group that's right for you – perhaps a group that meets on a certain day, or in a certain location, or that has a particular emphasis or focus – and then sign up. Scroll down the My Groups page to the Sign Up section to view the available groups; then click "More information" to view further information about the group and to sign-up.
From the group's page it's even possible for you to sign-up to the groups with just a single button click. 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 or phone call from the leaders to invite you to the next group meeting!
...And if you signup to a group by mistake or you wish to leave a group, you can just as easily un-signup too! Just click 'Cancel group signup'.
The My Rotas section displays all your upcoming serving commitments and rotas. You'll only see the My Rotas page if you have future serving dates on a current published rota, or if there are rotas published that you can sign up to, or if you are a ministry overseer.
At the top of the My Rotas page is the Next Serving section listing your upcoming serving and that of your linked family members – the dates, rotas and roles assigned.
Rota names shown in red indicate a rota date clash, where you're scheduled to serve at the same date/time on other rotas. It's of course perfectly possible to be on multiple rota dates at the same time, but some clashes may require you to organise a swap, or to ask to be removed from a rota. For rotas with 'accept/decline/ enabled you'll have the option to accept or decline. Accepts are shown with a green background. Rotas shown in red strikethrough on a red background indicate 'unavailability' - unavailability that you've specifically blocked out (affecting all rotas for the unavailable dates) or a rota date that you've 'declined'. You'll continue to see these rota dates listed if your ministry overseer hasn't yet replaced you on the rota; or you may be required to organise a swap.
Scrolling down the My Rotas page further is the Unavailability section. Here you can add your unavailability block out dates - perhaps for holidays or known dates when you won't be available to serve on any rota. Adding unavailability sets you as unavailable for all rotas in that range of unavailable dates. By adding unavailability your rota overseers can more easily manage their rotas, planning ahead and identifying gaps ahead of time.
Finally, below the Unavailability section is a list of all your Rotas. Rotas with a pencil icon represent rotas that you oversee; those without a pencil icon are rotas that you belong to. Once a rota ends or your final date on a rota passes, that rota will disappear from the list. Rotas with a green traffic light (see image above) on the right hand side are published rotas – the rota is live and visible to all rota members. Ministry overseers may also see their rotas with a red traffic light, indicating that the rota is still in draft. Draft rotas are only visible to overseers and not visible to rota members until they are published. 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 where you can see all the people serving on the rota and their roles. Depending on the rota's settings, it may also be possible for you to Sign Up to future dates on the rota, to Accept or Decline, to Organise a swap with others, or Add unavailability. Previously-accepted serving can be declined, and vice-versa, without constraint. Declining a rota date will send a decline notification to the rota's overseer.
Selecting Organise swap enables you to record details of the person with whom you have already made arrangements to swap with – you shouldn't "inflict" a swap on someone! You can only swap with another available rota member. Select their name from the Swap with drop-down list, and then select details of any Return swap you may have agreed. Saving the changes will update the rota immediately, adding swapped people to rota dates with an 'accepted' status.
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, including a note of their roles on that date. A further email is sent to the ministry overseer advising the swap transaction.
Note that it's not possible for rota members to edit their roles – this is an overseer-only task. When swapping, a swapee will inherit the same roles as the swapper. If in doubt, contact your rota overseer to advise them what is happening and let them update the rota for you, as they have further functionality that allows them to manage team member roles from within My ChurchSuite.
Some rotas might have sign-up enabled – you'll see a Sign Up button at the top of each rota date with spaces available...
...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 on the rota (depending on your church's rota sign-up policy of course).
Rota functionality for ministry overseers
Overseers have full rota management functionality within My ChurchSuite. If you're an overseer you'll be able to: -
- Manage teams, team members and roles within your ministry, including adding/removing members to teams and assigning roles to team members.
- Create draft rotas, publish and distribute them.
- Manage rota members on the rota page, including adding/removing people from rota dates, swapping people, accepting/declining on behalf of rota members and adding/removing dates on the rota.
- Add notes to dates on the rota to communicate important information for rota members about something happening on that date.
- Enable rota sign-up and manage maximum sign-up numbers for individual dates or the entire rota.
- Add and manage unavailability for all serving team members and themselves.
- Receive clash notifications for 'declines', unavailability and date clashes.
Full details of the ministry overseer functionality is covered in the related article - Working with rotas in My ChurchSuite -referenced at the end of this article.
The My Giving section shows 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 (e.g. North America, Singapore). You can filter the list of donations displayed, perhaps to just see a particular tax year or filing year.
From My Giving you can access Donate, ChurchSuite's secure online giving platform, where you can easily set up one-off and/or recurring donations to your church.
Scrolling further down the My Giving page is the Pledges section. Here, you can manage your existing giving pledges.
For example, you can cancel your direct debit donations – perhaps if you wish to set up a new direct debit for a different amount. And for card donations, clicking Manage giving enables you to change your donation amount, the payment card or cancel your card giving.
You can also set up "promise" pledges to your church, perhaps to support a building campaign, a mission, or the regular tithes and offerings of your church – just enter details of the fund, frequency and amount (see below). You can also specify the date range of your pledge, or leave the end date blank if it's to run 'until further notice'.
Essentially, your church will then match the donations you make against your pledge(s), so you'll always be able to see your up to date pledge progress in My Giving. 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 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 a new declaration at any time. When adding a declaration you can specify a backdated start date of up to four years (under current HMRC rules), allowing your 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'.
You can cancel an active Gift Aid declaration too – ending an active declaration will set the declaration's end date to today's date. Ending a declaration will prevent your church reclaiming further Gift Aid in respect of donations after the declaration end date for the fund(s) covered by that declaration – unless another active declaration is in place for those donations.
Catch up on missed sermon messages in the My Podcast page. It's great on a smart phone or tablet – sermons on the go, all from within My ChurchSuite!
Sermon messages can be grouped by series, and they can be presented in audio or video format depending on your church's media setup and podcast configuration.
Search for Others
This is your church's contact directory provided for church members. If enabled, your church may restrict which church members can access this feature, and also restrict which church members display in search results (perhaps excluding newcomers, for example, who may not yet be using My ChurchSuite themselves). It's therefore possible that 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, and they'll only be able to see your contact details based on your privacy settings. In the example below, Jim has chosen to set all his contact details visible to others. Clicking on a contact displays a pop up contact card.
The remaining items you might possibly see on the My ChurchSuite 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 certain grouping of people and 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.