2. My ChurchSuite user guide

Introduction

Welcome to My ChurchSuite, your church's member-facing platform! While leaders and staff will use the admin-facing ChurchSuite system to help them manage administration, we've created a great system for members too; to help you keep your details up to date, and to help you access and more easily engage with the life and activity of everything that's going on in your church, charity, organisation or community.

Take a tour to see what you can do in My ChurchSuite...

Getting started
Navigating My ChurchSuite
Home page & My Details
My Communications
My Children
My Events
My Groups
My Rotas
My Giving
My Podcast
Search for others
Links

Getting started...

Access to My ChurchSuite is by email invitation from your church/organisation leaders, so it's important they have your correct email address. If you've not received your invitation, get in touch with your leaders and they'll be able to get that sorted for you. Your invitation email contains a personal login link that is used to first set your preferred password and access My ChurchSuite for the first time. Those without an email address will be unable to access My ChurchSuite. Your invitation email might look something like this...

If you share an email address with a spouse/partner, you'll each receive a personalised invitation to your shared email inbox – be sure to each use your link, making sure that you each choose a different password; otherwise, the system won't be able to distinguish who is logging in!

While this user guide outlines all the main features in My ChurchSuite, it is possible that your organisation has chosen to disable or restrict access to certain features, or they may not yet have certain features installed on their system at all. If you are having difficulty locating a particular feature you should reach out to your organisation in the first instance to see if it's available and has been enabled for you.

My ChurchSuite for under 18s

My ChurchSuite is only currently available for contacts in your organisation's Address Book. Children and young people should not be added to the Address Book as doing so may present safeguarding risks, but will also prevent those children from being able to participate in the church's Children module functionality, like child check-in, medical/additional needs/consents, children groups, group attendance, and parent-child linking etc. My ChurchSuite access for under-18s will be added in the future - watch this space!

Updated May 2022

My ChurchSuite can be accessed through any web browser and using our free iOS and Android ChurchSuite apps.

App navigation follows familiar navigation principles – clicking "Back", scrolling content vertically, swiping content horizontally, single-clicking menus and actions etc. My ChurchSuite is fully responsive, which means that content re-sizes automatically to suit the smaller screen-sized devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets. We've produced an additional support article for the iOS and Android app, which explains how to install the app and log in – see the related articles section at the end of this guide.

For this guide though, we'll use screenshots taken from within a browser environment, which will enable you to more fully visualise the content available in each section

To log in through a web browser head to login.churchsuite.com and follow the on-screen instructions to search/select your church/organisation. Next, enter your email address, and when prompted, your password. Passwords are always case-sensitive. Note also the option to request a password reset email by clicking Forgotten Password. If you experience an issue logging in - perhaps if your email address or password is not recognised - reach out to your leaders and check that My ChurchSuite access is enabled for you and that they hold the correct email address.

Once logged in you're taken to the My ChurchSuite Home page. My ChurchSuite will likely be styled with your church's logo and livery, so it should feel familiar to you as you navigate around the sections using the Menu on the left of the screen (app users should click to reveal the Menu, which closes again when not in use).

Let's now take a tour through each of the Menu sections. Continue scrolling this article to read each section in turn, or use the shortcut links at the start of this article to jump to a particular section of interest.

Home & My Details

The Home page may include a brief welcome message, followed by a featured event feed. You can horizontal-scroll to see other future featured events for the next 6 weeks. Clicking on a featured event will take you straight to the event page where you can read further details about the event. You can sign-up (if applicable) – your sign-up contact details will be pre-populated into the form, making the sign-up process quick and simple. You can even pay for tickets by card (for 'pay' events) – it's simple, secure and helps your church with its event management and administration.

Scrolling down the home page, there's a My Communication list of your most recent communications sent to you from the church. You'll also see your My Details 'contact' card, which shows a summary of the basic contact details your church holds about you on their database. This information is only visible to you unless you choose to make any details visible to others through your privacy settings (see later).

Clicking View on your contact card, or selecting My Details from the Menu will open your details page to view. From here you can review and update your details, perhaps adding missing information – that's always helpful to churches! Add as much or as little information as you feel comfortable sharing with your church.

Updating your marital/relationship status

When managing your contact details, your church may permit you to edit your Marital Status and search/select your spouse/partner - if not already linked - to link you both together in their Address Book. When you select engaged, married, separated or cohabiting as marital status, an email will be sent to the other person asking them to confirm the marital status once the change has been saved. You will only be linked when the other partner clicks the 'confirm' link in their confirmation email.

Among the various personal details you can keep up to date are your Communication options and Privacy settings.

Your Communication options - opting into or out of receiving general church communications and/or rota reminder communications - determine the methods by which your church will be able to send communications to you. While your church may be able to send certain communications without requiring your consent (e.g. a parent communication relating to a child); other messages will be consent-dependent. With this in mind, do remember that opting out of receiving general communications may prevent your church from communicating with you, meaning you will miss out on important church communications. Therefore, we encourage you to opt-in - your church is not in the habit of sending you spam messages! Click Edit to review and update your communication options.

While your details are never visible to anyone outside of your church, your Privacy settings enable you to choose which of your basic contact details you are happy to be visible to other members of your church when they access My ChurchSuite. It's helpful for your Name and a contact number or email address to be visible so that fellow rota and small group members can see your name on rotas and the group member list. It also makes it easier for them to communicate with you, perhaps to organise a rota swap, or send you a personal message. Note that only your address, telephone, mobile and email can be set visible – other personal details, such as your date of birth or marital status, are only ever visible to you. Click Edit to review and update your privacy settings.

Importantly, no children's contact details are surfaced within My ChurchSuite. Parents may be able to view and manage their own linked children's details (see later), but beyond this, you can be assured that your children's details are not accessible by other church members. An exception is if your child is serving on a rota, or if they belong to a small group – in this case, the child's name only is visible to their fellow rota members, the ministry's overseers, or to their fellow small group members and the small group's leaders. A further exception is if your child has signed up for an event or course; in which case the event's designated overseers will be able to see your child's basic event sign-up contact details as part of managing the event.

Don't be invisible!

When first logging in to My ChurchSuite, you may see the following message on your Home page informing you that your privacy settings are such that you are invisible to others in My ChurchSuite.

Being invisible means that...

  • Your name will not show on any rotas that you serve on, or the underlying ministry's team member list - neither you, nor your fellow rota members and ministry overseers will see your name on the rota, and they will not be able to contact you
  • Your name will not show on any small group member lists that you belong to - neither you, nor your fellow group members and leaders will see your name in the group's member list, and they will not be able to contact you
  • You will not be able to use the rota or small group Email functionality - to send or receive group emails, meaning you may miss out on important communications

One of the reasons your leaders have chosen ChurchSuite is because it is secure, and ensures privacy by design. We do therefore encourage you to review your Privacy settings and set your Name and at least one means of contact to be visible so that your church community and ministries can function well. Do speak to your leaders if you have any questions about your organisation's privacy policy or data security. Be reassured that your name and any contact details you choose to make visible to others in My ChurchSuite...

  • will only be visible to other church members who, like you, have been authorised and invited to access My ChurchSuite by your leaders,
  • that you can change your privacy settings in My ChurchSuite at any time in the future,
  • that the only basic personal information that you can choose to share is your Name, Email, Mobile, Telephone and Address - no other personal details are shared (though they are visible to you),
  • that while parents can manage the personal details of their children, children's details are not visible to others, unless a child is a member of a rota or small group, in which case their name only is visible to fellow rota or group members - no further child details are ever surfaced in My ChurchSuite,
  • that My ChurchSuite is secure.

My Communication

You can view previous emails and SMS communications sent to you by your church from the My Communication section. Note that My ChurchSuite is not an email application, so it's not possible to forward or reply to messages from My Communications – to do this you will need to use your preferred email application. Essentially My Communication is intended to be a simple list of all your recent church communications in one place. Click on any message in the list to open it to view. My Communication shows communications from the last six months, with a maximum of 50 items, whichever is fewer. It's not possible to hide 'read' communications from the list.

My Children

The My Children section is only visible to parents whose children have been linked to them in the church database, enabling them to manage each child's details. Parents may also be able to add new children, without needing to ask someone in the church office to do it for them! And when there's an active Child Check-in session, the My Children section shows a Check-In QR code that parents can scan at the church check-in station to get a list of all their linked children, to check them in quickly and easily. Once checked in, the parent pick-up passes are shown in the My Children section too (see below).

Parents can Edit and manage the details of each child, perhaps adding missing information, such as pertinent medical conditions, allergies, additional needs, and photo/video consent. Only parents and authorised church/group leaders can view this information – it's not visible to church members in My ChurchSuite.

When editing a child's details, parents can set Communication options, opting their child into or out of receiving 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!

My Events

The My Events section is your church's events Calendar showing upcoming featured events and a searchable calendar of future events. If you've signed up for a future event, if you oversee a future event, or if you've been sent an invitation to a future event by your church, you'll see that information in the additional tabs at the top of the page - My Events and My Invites.

Clicking on an event will take you through to the event page, showing additional details about the event, and where applicable, you'll be able to Sign Up (and even pay online, if it's a 'pay' event). Your details are pre-populated into an event's sign-up pages, so it's really easy to complete the event sign-up process with just a few clicks.

And if you've been designated as an event overseer, you'll have additional access to the list of Sign-ups and Event Check-In for the events you oversee and manage.

My Groups

The My Groups section is all about the small groups in your church. Use the tabs at the top of the page to view My Groups - the list of groups that you already belong to - Sign Up - a list of groups that you can optionally choose from to join (if enabled by your church) - and Clusters - the list of groups you oversee. You'll only see tabs pertinent to you, so not all tabs may show.

Clicking into a group you belong to will take you to the group's Members list. Note also the option to Email members - ideal for circulating a prayer request or pertinent information to all the group's members. The personal details you're able to see for other group members will depend on their privacy settings. Similarly, your privacy settings determine which of your details are visible to your fellow group members. You can use the Edit my visibility option to override your default privacy settings, enabling you to decide which details are visible to others in the group - you can edit your visibility on a group-by-group basis for each group that you belong to.

My ChurchSuite email functionality explained...

This applies to small group members and rota member group emails.

  • When composing an email you can choose whether replies go to 'just you, the author', or to 'all group members'. You will receive a copy of the emails you send in your inbox and My Communication too
  • Only group members with an active status can use the email feature; in this regard, it's a 'closed group' email system; those not belonging to the group are unable to send to the group - they'll receive an email bounce notification and their message will not be delivered
  • Sent emails are only visible to group members and are not visible in your church's admin-facing ChurchSuite database; in this regard, group emails are private and personal to the group's members
  • It's not currently possible to add attachments to emails composed from within My ChurchSuite. However, you can type hyperlinks. However, if you send the email from your regular email application to the group's private email address, you can attach files to that email in the usual way. Those attachments can be opened when viewing the message in My Communication
  • It's not possible to restrict email circulation to a subset of the group or an individual member – it's a whole group email to the group that will be delivered to all 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 message will be sent to all the group members. The group email, when first sent, will make clear whether replies will be sent to the entire group, or just to the sender
  • Emails are only sent to group members with a valid email address - even if their privacy settings mean you can't see their email address; and even if they have opted out of receiving general emails from the church office. Communication options only apply to the messages your church send; they do not apply to rota group and small group emails, which are considered personal
  • 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 correctly routed back to just the sender's email address instead of the group email address
  • A group email sent with "Send replies to me and all other [group/rota] members" will only disclose the group's private 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
  • Group members whose privacy settings are such that they are not visible in My ChurchSuite (i.e. their name is set to not be visible), and members pending approval to join the group will not be able to see or use the "Email member" button, although they will still receive group emails sent by others

Designated small group leaders may have additional functionality based on their designated role permissions, which enables them to manage the group's details ( Edit group and Edit [group] image), Members list, (adding and removing members), new member approval, and assigning member roles.

Leaders may also see an Attendance tab, which shows recent group member attendance presented in a graph and as a list, with the option to Add attendance. Previously-added recent attendance can be further edited, either by clicking on an attendance point on the graph or by clicking the pencil "Edit" icon next to a date heading at the top of the table of recent attendance.

Clicking Add attendance (or editing existing attendance) opens a pop-up. Ticking member names auto-increases the No. Attendees for the selected attendance date, or you can tick Didn't Meet. Pertinent meeting Notes can be optionally added - perhaps the names of guests and visitors - and the No. Attendees can be manually adjusted accordingly. Maintaining details of group attendance helps churches with their small group ministry reporting, and it can help you with pastoral care, while also providing an invaluable historic record of group meetings for safeguarding purposes.

From the Members list, leaders can manage their group member details, approving new pending status people - using the Set as Active action for those who have recently signed up to join the group. They can also manage group member role assignments.

Note that when adding new members to the group, leaders can only search/select people whose privacy settings have their Name visible. Speak to your church office if you can't locate a new member through the search, or if someone new joins your group who wishes to have their details added to the church database – new people can't be added to the database from My ChurchSuite; although they may be able to submit their details into the database by signing up to your group via your church's website. Removing a group member retains their historic group attendance, and prevents them from sending or receiving group emails.

Finally, designated Cluster Overseers have an additional tab titled Clusters, listing the groups in their care and oversight. Overseers can click through to view the historic attendance and member lists of groups within their cluster; however, they cannot change any of the group details, add or remove group members, or add or edit group attendance, unless they are also a group leader of that group.

My Rotas

The My Rotas section shows your Next Serving commitments for the next 3 months. Further tabs give you access to your Rotas and manage your Unavailability. Those with linked family members can also access their Next Serving and manage their unavailability. Note that you will only see the My Rotas section if you have future serving dates on a published rota, if there are rotas published that you can sign up to, or if you are an overseer for an active ministry.

Rota names shown in red indicate a clash, where you're set to serve on more than one rota on the same date/time. It's of course perfectly possible to serve on multiple rota dates at the same time, but some clashes may require you to decline or organise a swap. For rotas with 'accept/decline' enabled you'll have the option to respond to serving requests. Previous Accepts are distinguished with a green tick icon, and Declines with a red cross icon and the rota name in red strikethrough styling. Red strikethrough styling is also used to distinguish dates where unavailability has been added. You'll continue to see declined and unavailable servings listed until your ministry overseer either replaces or removes you from the rota; or you may be required to organise and process a swap - explained below.

You can easily block out dates of unavailability for yourself and linked family members from the Unavailability section. Adding unavailability means unavailable for any rotas in the range of unavailable dates/times. It's not possible to be available for one ministry, but unavailable for others; however you may be able to Decline serving requests if that functionality has been enabled for your rota/s. By keeping your known unavailability up to date, rota overseers can more easily plan, manage their rotas, identify gaps and needs, and better ensure people are not over-serving.

The Rotas tab provides a list of all the Rotas you are set to serve on, or that you oversee. If you oversee a rota you'll also see the Add rota option. Rotas with a 'pencil' icon represent rotas you oversee, and may also be serving on; those without a pencil icon are rotas for ministries that you belong to or have future serving dates. Once a rota expires, or your final serving date on a rota passes, that rota will cease to show in the list. You may also see follow-on rotas when an existing rota is expiring soon. Note that draft status rotas - styled italicised in the list - are only visible to ministry overseers and are not visible to the rota's members until published, enabling overseers to plan, create rotas, and fine-tune them before publishing them and making them visible to rota members.

Clicking through into a rota from the Next Serving or Rotas list opens the rota to view. The rota view is divided into tabs, showing the rota Dates, the rota's underlying Teams (members and roles), and the rota Details. Rota members have actions available on their serving dates - to Add unavailability, Accept or Decline (if enabled for the rota) and Organise swap. If enabled, you may also be able to sign up for available rota dates where there is serving capacity remaining on that date. Previously-accepted serving can be declined, and vice-versa, without constraint. Declining a serving will send a decline notification to the rota's overseer.

Selecting Organise swap enables you to process details of the person with whom you have already relationally made arrangements to swap with. You can only process swaps with an available rota member who is not already serving on the rota on that date. It is not currently possible to process swaps with children. Select the person's name from the Swap with drop-down list, and optionally select details of any Return swap you may have agreed to. Saving the changes will update the rota immediately, adding the swapped people to the rota dates with an 'accepted' status.

After processing 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 that they are now serving on that date, and the role/s they are serving on that date. A further notification is sent to the ministry overseer advising them of the swap transaction.

Note that rota members can't edit their roles – this is an overseer-only task. When swapping, the swapee will inherit the original roles of the swapper. If in doubt, contact your rota overseer to advise them what is happening, and if necessary they can update the rota for you, as they have further functionality that enables them to manage team member roles from within My ChurchSuite.

For rotas with sign-up enabled you'll see a + Sign Up button at the bottom of each rota date where there are serving spaces available, but only on rota dates that you are not already assigned to serve...

In this way, rota overseers may publish a part-completed rota, and then invite ministry members to sign up for future dates based on their availability. It's a great way of recruiting for rota gaps and helps team members too because they can better manage their serving commitments based on their known availability.

Rota functionality for ministry overseers

In addition to great rota member functionality in My Rotas, designated ministry Overseers have full rota management functionality in My ChurchSuite. If you're a ministry overseer this means 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 rota dates to communicate pertinent information about something happening on that date
  • Enable rota sign-up and manage the maximum sign-up numbers for individual dates or the entire rota
  • Add and manage unavailability for all serving team members and themselves
  • Receive notifications for declines, unavailability clashes, and upcoming rota expiry

Full details of the ministry overseer functionality are explained in our related article - Working with rotas in My ChurchSuite - referenced at the end of this article.

My Giving

The My Giving section shows a summary of your recent personal Donations, and for UK churches, the Gift Aid that is claimable on each donation (or the Tax Deductible status, for North America and Singapore). You can further filter the list, perhaps to see a particular tax year or filing year. If enabled by your church, you can also use the Donate option to make one-off and recurring online donations to one of your church's funds or causes.

If enabled by your church, the Pledges tab enables you to view and manage your existing giving pledges. A pledge is automatically added for recurring online donations made through ChurchSuite Donate, but you can also add a pledge for the regular donations you make by other donation methods. Pledges are non-binding, but they help your church to create budgets based on future pledged income. Your church finance team will link the pledged donations you make (by any method) to your pledge, enabling you to visualise pledge progress here in My Giving.

You can easily make changes to your recurring online giving using the Manage option. For example, you may wish to cancel a direct debit pledge, perhaps to set up a new direct debit for a different amount or bank account. And for recurring card donations, the Manage option enables you to change the donation amount, add a pledge end date, change your payment card, or cancel your card giving altogether.

Finally, for UK churches and charities, the Declarations tab enables you to manage the active Gift Aid declarations you've provided to reclaim Gift Aid.

If you're a UK taxpayer then you can add or end an active declaration at any time. When adding a declaration you can select which fund/s the declaration relates to, and you are permitted to optionally backdate the start date up to four years from today's date, enabling your church to reclaim Gift Aid on your historic donations to the selected fund/s. The declaration will remain active until the end date is reached, or you can leave the end date empty if the declaration is to run until further notice. 'Ending' a declaration will end the declaration today and will prevent your church/charity from reclaiming Gift Aid on future donations to the declaration's fund/s made after today - unless there's another active declaration covering the date and fund/s of those donations.

My Podcast

Catch up on a missed sermon message in the My Podcast section. It's great on a smartphone, tablet or in a web browser – sermons on the go, all from within My ChurchSuite!

Sermon messages may be grouped by series, and they may be presented in audio and video format depending on your church's media setup and podcast configuration. Use the Search to find a particular message of interest - the list of matching sermons auto-filters as you type.

This is your church's contact directory for your church community. If enabled, your church may choose to restrict access to this feature, and they may restrict which members can be searched (for example, perhaps excluding newcomers who may not yet be using My ChurchSuite themselves). Church members whose privacy settings have names not visible will of course not be shown in the results. It is 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.

You'll only be able to view the basic contact details of other people - the precise details you can see for each person will depend on their privacy settings. In the same way, your privacy settings determine which of your contact details can be seen by other members.

Your church is optionally able to share links to other important information, so you may see a Links item on the menu. These links are to external web pages and resources that your church may have set up for you. Some links may only be available to certain groupings of people so that the content you see is personal to you. Here's an example where the church has provided Links to the "Sundays Online" YouTube page, a "Need Help?" enquiry form, web pages for finding out about joining a small group, social media pages, and much more. Why not let your church office know if there are links that would be useful to your community?

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