Adding small groups

In this article

Adding a small group
Managing group images
Customising the group's sign-up confirmation email
Importing small groups
Managing small group capacity

Adding a small group

Setting up small groups in ChurchSuite is quick and easy. To add a small group to your ChurchSuite account go to the Groups section of the Small Groups module and click Add group.

On the Add group pop-up, fill in all the details for the group - the group Name and group Start Date are required fields. Use the drop-down selectors to specify when the group typically meets - either selecting the group's meeting Frequency, Day and Time...

...or select Custom Frequency and enter a free-text description for irregular frequencies e.g. "Mondays at 8 pm in term time only", "First and Third Thursdays Monthly at 7.30 pm", "Various days and dates".

Custom group meeting details

Many of ChurchSuite's reports include the option to filter by the group's Meets on day. The Various Days filter option should be used to match groups that have custom meeting details.

Optionally add the group's Location name and Address, which is used to plot the group's map location on the group page. You can provide a generic location name and partial postcode if you wish e.g. "Bill & John's House, Beeston, NG4". Notice the option to switch between a Physical and Online group location - see the related support article for running online small groups.

The group Start date is required and can be a past or future date. The End date is optional. An active group becomes a past group when the End date passes.

Optionally select the group's Labels and Cluster - see the related support articles for further information on categorising groups using Labels, and managing group oversight with Clusters. Multi-site customers will be able to set the Site that the group belongs to - small groups can either be site-specific or "All Sites".

Add responses to any group Custom fields you may have added to your Small Groups module - see the related article on Adding small group custom fields.

Set the group's Visibility. Groups are only visible to Small Groups module Users in ChurchSuite, but you can set them to be visible in the member-facing My ChurchSuite, on your website in an embedded map or groups list (Show in Embed), and at your in-person services and events if running the Connect app at your information point (Show in Connect).

And finally, set the Sign Up settings as appropriate for the group. Each small group has a public-facing Group Page with a URL that you can optionally share in your communications and on social media. Additionally, you have granular control over signup through My ChurchSuite, Embed and Connect. See the related support articles for more information about group sign-up through My ChurchSuite, Connect and Embed.

With sign-up enabled, and on a group-by-group basis, you can also control

  • the Sign Up Start (required) and End date range (the end date is optional - signup can remain active indefinitely)
  • the group Capacity, further sign-up will be prevented when the group reaches capacity, although a module user (in ChurchSuite) or group members with Edit Group Details role permission (in My ChurchSuite) can override group capacity and add additional members
  • the Member List visibility for active group members
  • the default Member Status of new members when they sign up, enabling you to operate an approval process whereby pending status sign-ups have to be set as active before they join the active group member list. Small group module users (in ChurchSuite) and group members with Edit Group Details role permission (in My ChurchSuite) can approve (set as active) members to the group or remove them from the group. Removal notifications are not sent to the removed person, so leaders would need to contact the person to let them know.

Click Save to add the new group and be redirected to the newly-added group "View page, which shows all the group Details you've just added. You can return to this page in the future should you need to Edit and make group details changes. Finally in this section, notice the option to Add description which can be used to provide additional information about the group to prospective members viewing the group page.

Managing group images

From a group "View" page you can optionally upload a group Image - perhaps of the group leaders. PNG or JPEG file formats are supported. Note that group images are re-proportioned to show in the My Groups section of My ChurchSuite in a 4:3 aspect ratio, but will show in their original aspect ratio on the group page. To ensure that important information or details of the image are not clipped or distorted, make sure that all group images are saved in a 4:3 aspect ratio (e.g. 1280x960px). For help in calculating the aspect ratio of group images use this handy calculator. To add a suitably-prepared image hover your cursor over the group avatar and click the pencil icon...

Either choose a file to upload by clicking the + icon or drag the image file into the dropzone.

The image is added immediately. Once added, note the additional options to view or remove the image.

Customising the group's sign-up confirmation email

For sign-up-enabled groups, you can op[tionally add a welcoming message to the sign-up Confirmation email that people receive when they sign up to the group. Select to View or Edit the confirmation email.

On the Edit pop-up - in addition to a custom message - note the From and Subject email fields, which can also be customised.

Importing small groups

You can import a list of small groups, making the process of adding multiple groups considerably quicker than adding groups individually. The import workflow is ideal for churches running termly groups, where you first collate the list of next term's groups outside of ChurchSuite and then import the list in one process.

Working from within the Groups section of the module, click Import groups.

The Import page contains lots of useful information on Creating your CSV file, which will help you prepare your file of groups ready for import. There's even an Example file that you can download to help visualise how the group data should be presented or used as a template for your group import. There's a comprehensive list of all the supported fields that can be imported. You don't have to supply data for every field in your CSV file but ChurchSuite will import every column in your CSV file that has a field header that it recognises.

The first row in the CSV file must contain the header information - the column labels that ChurchSuite will use to match the appropriate field in ChurchSuite. If you use the suggested field-naming convention for the CSV header row, ChurchSuite will automatically map the data in your file to the appropriate field in the Small Groups module. For multi-site customers, and where the group Site is not specified in the CSV file, groups will be added to the site being viewed. If your file includes multi-site groups we recommend you include a Site column in the CSV file and import the file viewing as "All sites". Site names specified in the CSV file must precisely match the site-naming convention used in ChurchSuite.

When you are ready to proceed click Choose file to search/select the CSV to be uploaded. Then click Upload CSV File.

After upload, a preview of the CSV file data is displayed. Each CSV Header field needs to be mapped to a field in the Small Groups module. For each CSV Header that matches a field in ChurchSuite, that field will be automatically selected in the Import As column. Any unrecognised CSV Header fields are distinguished with a yellow warning triangle and will not be imported. However, you can use the Import As drop-down selector to select the appropriate field to map that CSV Header. Once you are satisfied that all the CSV Header fields are mapped to the correct field in ChurchSuite, select Import All Records or Cancel if you need to abort and make further changes to your CSV file.

The uploaded items are now verified. Valid rows are distinguished by a green tick and any invalid rows are distinguished by a yellow warning triangle and the Errors listed. You can View, Edit (to correct an error) or Remove a row. You can Process valid items at any time - any invalid items will remain in the list until resolved or removed. Common errors are missing required data or data supplied in an incompatible format for the field. You can Pause or Cancel an import at any time, and you can later Resume an incomplete paused import.

Clicking Edit you can make changes to the data and correct errors before processing. In this example, the required group Start date is missing and can be added. Click Save to apply the changes.

You can resume an incomplete/paused import at any time. Click back into the Groups section of the module, and the Import groups page to Resume or Cancel an import.

Managing small group capacity

You can manage the Capacity of small groups, enabling you to cap groups when they are full and encourage people to consider other groups. Group capacity isn't just about optimum group sizes or venue size constraints; it can also increase engagement during a group sign-up period!

For those using the Activate small group model (created by Nelson Searcey), greater small group engagement is encouraged by setting group capacity constraints that encourage people to sign up quickly before their desired group fills up. It's also great for newer people to have a visual indicator of the size and capacity status of a group when they're choosing a group - they might be less inclined to sign up for an empty group.

Once the group sign-up capacity is reached no further signups will be possible and the group page will show This group is full.

However, Small Groups module Users are always able to add members - a Capacity message is displayed alerting the User to the group being over capacity but with the option to Ignore capacity and proceed.

Note: A Capacity warning is not shown when adding people to a group through a Flow.

Setting small group capacity

Small group capacity can be set for groups that have sign-up enabled. On the Edit group pop-up - and for each group in turn - scroll down to the Sign Up section and check the Sign up through group page option. Other sign-up options can then be optionally enabled as appropriate. Set the date range within which sign-up will be active - the Sign Up Start is required, but sign-up can remain active indefinitely if the Sign Up End is left blank. Finally, set the group Capacity.

With sign-up enabled and the sign-up period active, prospective sign-ups will see a Sign Up button...

and if the group is full they'll see This group is full.

Similarly, those signing up through a group page from the Connect Group List application or via a web-embedded group list will see whether groups are full or open to sign-ups. We continue to display groups at capacity so that people see a clear picture of your small group ministry - rather than thinking there might only be one or two groups, you may have many small groups but all but a couple of them are full!

Monitoring small group capacity and sign-up progress

In the Small Groups module's Reports section, the Capacity report provides a concise visual overview of sign-up progress. You can further filter the report to just see groups in certain Clusters or with certain Labels.

Still need help? Contact ChurchSuite Contact ChurchSuite