Adding custom fields for small groups

In this article

Overview of the intended functionality
Creating custom fields
Using custom fields

Overview of the intended functionality

While we've tried to anticipate the most common field needs for small group information, it's sometimes the case that you may want to record additional group information that doesn't comfortably fit in any of the standard small group fields already available in ChurchSuite.

For example, perhaps you'd like to distinguish groups that are suitable for newcomers or new believers, or groups that have a particular focus, like prayer or bible study or mission. This information could be added to the group's description field. A better solution for this information would be to use custom fields. Custom fields can be set visible so that wherever the group's details are shown (group name, meeting day, time, location, description etc), this additional custom field information is surfaced too - meaning that that those signing up to groups can view even more comprehensive details about each group and make a more informed decision. Or perhaps you need a custom field for group information that is internal-use only - no problem!

For each custom field you add you can select from a variety of data formats - single sentence (free text), paragraph (free text), drop-down list (only one option from the list can be selected), radio list (one option must be selected from the list but can exist with no value selected when a contact is created; once a value is selected you can only toggle between values and never reset to no value selected), checkbox list (select none, one or multiple options) and dates (in your local regional date format). Within the Address Book module only, you can also create custom fields that link to another Address Book contact - ideal for storing a contact's spiritual mentor or primary pastoral care contact, for example.

You can create up to 10 custom fields within the Small Groups module. There's a 250 max. character limit on a custom field's Name label and the Option labels, and custom field responses for Single sentence type and Paragraph type fields can be up to 250 characters in length. Custom fields can optionally be set visible in My ChurchSuite, and also editable by a group member with "Edit group" role permissions - typically a group's leader. Custom fields can optionally be set visible on event pages surfaced through Connect and Embed.

Custom fields are fully searchable and are included in the module's Advanced Search functionality. They can be also be included in a CSV export function and they can be specified as conditions within Smart Tags; so you can ask easily questions of your data and match results based on the contents of custom fields.

Creating custom fields

To create a Custom Field simply click into the Small Groups module's settings via the cogwheel icon in the top right-hand corner of the module - you'll need manage module or Administrator permissions to access this area. Locate the Custom Fields section.

Add new custom fields as appropriate, giving the field a suitable Name and select the field Type from the drop-down list. Depending on the 'type' selected, set Options as appropriate. You can also optionally set a custom field as Required.

When setting a Custom Field as Required the Batch Update button becomes visible...

Batch Update enables you to assign a default custom field value to all existing groups in the module where they do not yet have any value assigned - any groups with existing values will not be affected by a batch update. In this next example, a batch update the "Suitable for new believers?" field for all existing groups that do not yet have any field value assigned to "Yes". If any groups already have "Yes", no change is made. And if any groups already have "No" assigned, no change is made.

When changing an existing Custom Field from one type to another ChurchSuite will often be able to help with the change of data Type. For example, when changing a "Single Sentence" type to Checkbox List, Radio List or Drop-down List, ChurchSuite will automatically populate a list of custom field options based on your existing data, creating a field Option for each unique text entry found against your existing contacts.

Note about changing custom field "types"

While no data is lost when changing a field format from one type to another, it is possible that your data will have existing values that are not compatible with the new field type you are selecting. In this scenario, the original values against your contacts are maintained after the change but it will be removed if it is not compatible with the new field type when a contact is edited and saved. This incompatibility scenario is most likely to occur when changing any existing field type to a Date or Contact type. Dates should be in your local date format, so if you have a Date custom field for your locale that is mm/dd/yyyy, but you have existing dates like 1st Jan 2018, this will obviously not be compatible.

Similarly, if you have a checkbox type where multiple options are selected in your data and you change to a radio or drop-down select type then only the first checkbox option will be maintained when a group is edited and saved, and the other checkbox options will be removed.

Having created custom fields be sure to click Save before navigating away from the module's settings.

Using custom fields

Custom fields are editable by a Small Groups module User when they Add or Edit a group.

Custom field options are then surfaced when viewing a group within ChurchSuite...

and are also editable by a group member with "Edit group" role permissions enabled - typically this would be those with a "Leader" role.

With custom fields that have been set visible showing on the group page that group members and prospective signups will see.

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