Getting started with the Small Groups module
Purpose of the module
Welcome to ChurchSuite's Small Groups module! This module enables you to manage all the aspects of your small groups ministry. In this module you can easily create groups, optionally group your groups together using Tags and Clusters, manage group member lists and roles, and record small group attendance. The module includes optional group sign-up functionality, helping you to more easily engage prospective group members by promoting the groups you run, and where sign-up is open, to make it super-easy for people to join. Sign-up confirmations and group leader notifications keep everyone in the loop. The module also includes a wide range of reports to help you better understand small group engagement and how your small group ministry is growing over time.
We encourage you to read this article in full in order to familiarise yourself with the module's key features and customisation options available, and to acquaint yourself with some of the basic concepts and terminology you'll see within the module and our other Small Groups module support articles. Here's a helpful video to get you started...
Small Groups module features at a glance
- easily add or duplicate groups that meet online or physically
- optionally create custom fields to record additional group-related details for each group
- manage each group's visibility in My ChurchSuite, the Connect 'Group List', and the 'Group Map' and 'Group List' Embed
- group your groups together using Tags to help categorise different types of group and enhance filtering of reports and group lists
- use Clusters to group groups and provide oversight by designated cluster overseers
- easily produce and share small group promotional flyers by email or share them on social media
- maintain group attendance for safeguarding and strategic reporting purposes
- quickly integrate newcomers into groups though group sign-up - prospective sign-ups can view a 'menu' of groups open for sign-up, and then join the group by submitting a few basic contact details - sign-up confirmations and leader notifications keep everyone in the loop
- multi-site support - create 'site-specific' or 'all sites' groups
- comprehensive reporting to help you better understand your small group ministry, and easily identify those not yet engaging in your groups
- in-built communication section to communicate with group members or just those in specific roles
- empower group leaders to manage their group member list and group attendance from within My ChurchSuite, without needing Small Groups module access
- scaleable and flexible functionality for churches and organisations of any size - there's no limit to the number or types of groups you can use the module for
Overview of the Small Groups module
At the heart of the Small Groups module are of course your groups. From the Groups section, switch between viewing past, active and future groups, and add or duplicate groups.
Navigating around the groups in the module is really simple and intuitive. The Search Bar auto-filters the list of groups as you begin to type a group name, making it easy to locate the group(s) you're looking for.
Opening the Advanced Search provides additional filtering options - ideal for drilling down into your small groups data further or to locate the right list of groups based on criteria.
Each group's "View" page provides an overview of the group - its settings, the group's details, the Members list including member roles, the group's recent Attendance and group location. From here you can also upload a group image.
The 'action' buttons at the top of a group's "View" page make it easy to communicate with group members, send or print group flyers, view the public/member-facing group page or share the group page to social media.
You can easily control each group's visibility and sign-up settings on a group-by-group basis. For example, you might have certain groups that are only to be visible in My ChurchSuite and Connect, or groups where you prefer web sign-up (through the Embed) to be disabled. Optionally specify a group capacity to prevent groups over-filling and encouraging people to consider other groups that have available space. New sign-ups can be added to the member list with either and active or pending status - ideal if you want to introduce an "approval" step so that leaders can be involved in the decision to accept new group members.
You can group your groups into Clusters and designate cluster overseers who will be able to view group member lists and attendance for the groups in their care from within My ChurchSuite.
The Small Groups module includes a group Tags option to create your own custom groupings of groups - for example, group together all your 'daytime' groups, or all your groups 'suitable for newcomers'. Group tags can then be used as filters within small group reports, but also as filters where lists of groups are surfaced e.g. in the Connect 'Groups List' or the small group Embed.
From the Attendance section of the module, users can add group attendance quickly and easily...
...or have group leaders submit their group's attendance through My ChurchSuite...
You can optionally assign roles to certain group members - ideal for when you need to communicate with people based on roles and for helping newcomers to easily identify who the group's leaders or hosts are within a member list. Each role has a range of optional 'permissions' that give role-holders greater functionality within My ChurchSuite when managing their group.
Helping people find a suitable group is made considerably easier with some of the small group reports and other useful features. For example, while there are a variety of factors involved in choosing a small group, the Suggest groups feature provides suggestions based on a person's basic demographic details (where known). Similarly, the Not in a group reports will help identify those not yet in groups - perhaps to whom you'll promote an upcoming group sign-up period or small group launch event.
We've made it super easy to add people to small groups wherever your Users might be working in ChurchSuite. For example, when viewing a contact's profile page in the Address Book...
...and when people through Flows - perhaps a "Join a group" flow designed around your internal admin processes for connecting people to suitable groups.
Depending on your group visibility and sign-up settings, group members will see the groups they belong to in the My Groups section within My ChurchSuite, and those looking for a group will see the Sign Up section, listing all your active groups.
From here, people can click through to a group and, where sign-up is open and the group has capacity, they can sign up.
Group leaders (those whose role permissions allow) can also manage their Members list, Edit the group's details and submit group Attendance (or submit a 'group didn't meet' response).
Connect is home to all of ChurchSuite's Sunday-facing applications, - like the Child Check-In. There's also a range of applications that can be run on a tablet or device at your Information Point, including a helpful Group List.
The Group List comprises two sections, both designed to help people find a group to join. The filters at the top of the page affect the matching group results shown for both sections.
The top section is the Group Map - optionally enter a partial address or postcode/zip code to centre the map on that location and visualise the closest groups. Clicking on a map pin opens a pop up with information about the group; and if sign-up is open, people can click to sign up.
Under the Group Map is the Group List. Just as in My ChurchSuite, prospective group members can browse the menu of available (active) groups, and where sign up is open, click to join a group. Confirmation and leader notifications are sent, ensuring everyone is in the loop and new joiners are welcomed to their new group.
You don't need lots of technical 'know how' to embed a Group Map and/or Group List in your website. The beauty of embed is that you can achieve stunning and feature-rich results without needing website development skills. From the module's Embed Options you can quickly customise the embed user experience and styling.
ChurchSuite then generates the single line of embed code, which you simply copy and paste into the 'source code' or 'embed block' section of the appropriate page on your website.
We think you'll agree that the results are impressive and provide your prospective group members with a great first impression of your small group ministry, as well as make it really easy for them to view the menu of groups you offer and find one to join.
Being able to send and email or SMS to just the right people in groups is at the centre of the Small Groups module, which is why you'll see a Communicate button at the top of most of the "View" pages in each of the sections in the module and on many reports - it's easy to communicate from wherever you're working.
Frequently-used communications can be saved as Presets and recalled whenever required. Use the HMTL tools to style your message content, insert Merge Fields for personalisation, attach Files to emails and even Schedule a message, specifying when you'd like it to be sent.
Like most ChurchSuite modules, the Small Groups module includes a Communication section - simply search and select the Groups, Clusters or Tags you'd like to communicate with, and whether to communicate with All Members or By Role.
The Small Groups module includes a wide range of standard reports for common admin tasks, or to help you drill down into the content of your Small Groups module data for strategic purposes or historic reporting. Filter reports to see just what you're looking for and then download, print or send the report, or communicate directly with those in the report's results. There are reports relating to Attendance, Groups and group Members.
For example, have a look at the Not in a group 'location' report - easily identify those not yet in a small group and then use the report to direct people to their nearest group; or use the report strategically to inform where new groups could be started.
Before adding data to the Small groups module, we recommend that you first review the module's settings to make sure the module is customised to suit your church or organisation's needs. Some features will not be accessible until they are configured or enabled.
Accessing the module's settings is done via the cogwheels icon in the top-right corner of the module. This option is only available to those Users with at least Manage-level user permissions or Administrators.
The Small Groups module's settings are divided into 4 sections, each controlling different areas of the module's functionality across each part of the ChurchSuite ecosystem.
Use the Module Options Tab to:
- enable (or disable) the Clusters functionality
- set whether groups are allowed members from just the group's site or from any site (multi-site customers only)
- create custom fields for group, perhaps for storing additional group information such as 'group focus'
Use the My ChurchSuite Options tab to:
- enable (or disable) the My Groups section within My ChurchSuite
- allow group members with appropriate role permissions to submit group attendance or manage their group details, including custom fields
- surface the clusters functionality within the My Groups section
- customise which group details are surfaced on group pages accessed through My Groups
- customise the 'Sign Up' section that shows in My Groups when you have groups with sign-up enabled and open
Use the Connect Options tab to:
- customise the filter options you wish to provide in the Connect 'Groups List'
- customise whether the groups list and groups map is shown in Connect
- customise which group details are surfaced on group pages accessed through the Connect 'Groups List'
Use the Embed Options tab to:
- customise the group map embed
- customise the group list embed
- customise which group details are surfaced on group pages accessed through the embed
- customise the group sign-up functionality when people sign up through the embed
In order to explore many of the Small Groups module's features and functionality you'll need to add some data. While not intended to be an exhaustive list, working through some of the following tasks will help you get your Small Groups module up and running - see the related support articles listed at the end of this article for detailed 'step-by-step' instructions.
- Review the module's settings
- Add you groups, setting the visibility and sign-up settings as required for each group
- Take time to write helpful group descriptions that prospective sign-ups and group members will see, and even upload an image for each group - perhaps of the group's leaders looking beautiful!
- Optionally add Clusters, designate cluster overseers and assign groups to each cluster
- Optionally add group Tags, set each tag's visibility and assign groups to your tags
- Create roles and set each role's permissions
- Populate each group's member list and assign roles - perhaps from existing Address Book tags or manually searching and adding people. You could even add just the leaders and then have them populate their group's member list using My ChurchSuite
- Decide whether you wish to collect group attendance and your internal process for doing that, or encourage group leaders to submit attendance via My ChurchSuite
- Where sign is enabled and open, review the My Groups 'Sign Up' section in My ChurchSuite to ensure all the groups are listed as expected with all the correct details
- Review the "Groups List'" application in Connect to ensure all the groups are correctly listed as expected and that the list, map and filter options are as you would like
- Optionally generate the small group map/list embed codes and have those added to the 'source code' or 'embed block' section of the appropriate page on your website. Review the embed in your website to ensure groups are listed as expected and that group pages and sign up is operational (if enabled)
Got a question?
You’ll find the answers to most questions in our support articles - they're all available through the Support beacon located in the bottom-right corner of each page in the Small Groups module - just search by topic, phrase or keyword. You can also access the Support Article library on our website. And if you still can't find something you're looking for, click to get in touch with one of the ChurchSuite team - we’re happy to help!