Adding small groups

In this article

Adding a small group
Managing group images
Customising the group's sign-up confirmation email
Working with groups - overview of the group "View" page
Duplicating an existing small group
Importing small groups
Deleting small groups
Managing small group capacity
Promoting groups on social media

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 and Day from the drop down lists and setting the Time...

...or select "Custom" Frequency and enter a free-text description for irregular frequencies e.g. "Mondays at 8pm in term time only", "First and Third Thursdays Monthly at 7.30pm", "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. For groups where a "Custom" Frequency has been specified, the Various Days report filter option should be used to match groups with custom, unspecified meeting days.

Optionally specify the group's Location and Postcode. You can provide a generic location name and partial postcode if you wish e.g. "Bill & John's House, Beeston, NG4". Notice also the option to switch between a physical and online group - see the related support article for running online small groups.

A group Start Date is required - this can be a past or future date.

Optionally set the group's Tags and Cluster - see the related support articles - and add a brief Description of the group e.g. what does the group do, who is it suitable for? Multi-site churches or organisations will be able to set the Site that the group belongs to - small groups can either be site-specific or "All Sites".

Continue scrolling down through the group settings. If you wish, select the responses to any Custom fields you have added - see the related article on Adding custom fields:

Set the group's Visibility. By default a group is only visible to Small Groups module Users in ChurchSuite but you can set the group to be visible in ChurchSuite's member-facing platform (Show in My ChurchSuite), on your website (Show in Embed) and at your church or organisations information point (Show in Connect).

Choose Sign Up settings as appropriate as in addition to the group being visible to prospective group members, you can also select where people can sign up to the group. Each small group has its own unique public-facing Group page and a group page link that you can manually distribute through your communications. You can also enable Sign up through that Group page and, where the group is also visible, you can enable Sign up through My ChurchSuite, Embed and Connect.

Where Sign Up is enabled, you must set the dates within which people can sign up. A Start Date (when sign up is open from) is required but the End Date (when sign up closes) is optional if you wish to allow ongoing sign-up, even after the group has started. Typically the 'sign up start date' is before the 'group's start date', however, for an existing group that has already started you may wish to re-open sign up at any time in the future.

Optionally specify any maximum group Capacity. While Small Groups module Users can always add members to groups, regardless of capacity, group sign up will only be possible if there is remaining capacity in the group. See later in this article for further information on managing small group capacity.

Next, select when group members are able to view the Member List of other group members when they are viewing their group within My ChurchSuite - the member list can be set to be visible Immediately (as soon as they've signed up) or After sign-up ends. With the latter option, the member list will never be visible if an end date has not been specified.

Finally, select the default Member Status of new group members when they sign-up - new group members can be added or signed up to the group with either an Active or Pending status. Active group members are joined immediately to the group and are able to view the group member list in My ChurchSuite (subject to the Member List visibility setting); Pending group members are added but must first be approved (set active) by the group's leaders before they are able to view the group's member list in My ChurchSuite. Pending status group members will not receive group emails sent by fellow group members from within My ChurchSuite until they are set active. Group members with a pending status will not be visible on the group's member list to other group members until they are set active. Subject to their "role permissions", small group leaders are able to "set active" pending group members from within My ChurchSuite or a User can set them active from the group's "View" page in the Small Groups module in ChurchSuite.

Remember to Save the changes before navigating away from the page. After saving the group you are taken to the group's "View" page.

Managing group images

From the group's "View" page you can optionally upload a group Image - perhaps of the group's leaders or an image of a book or resource that the group is using this term - PNG or JPEG file formats are accepted. Hover your cursor over the group avatar icon and click the pencil icon...

Either choose a file to upload by clicking the icon or drag and drop it to the drop zone.

Once uploaded, the image is immediately displayed on the 'View' page:

Customising the group's sign-up confirmation email

Where group sign up is enabled, take time to compose a welcoming confirmation Email that people will receive when they sign up to the group - select Edit from the Action menu...

...and type a brief sign-up confirmation message. Click OK before navigating away.

Working with groups - overview of the group "View" page

Returning to the group's "View" page, notice the button options available at the top of the page, including Go to group page, which will preview the public-facing Group Page that prospective group members will see. You can easily embed the Group Page URL in your communications if you wish. Subject to the group's visibility, the group page will also be visible in My ChurchSuite, Embed and Connect. The Share button provides options to optionally share the group page on social media channels; and you can Print flyers for the group - ideal for giving someone a leaflet about the group.

Finally, notice that the group "View" page has four tabs - DetailsMembers, Attendance and Map. See the related support articles for further information on adding group members and attendance.

New groups are added to the list in the Groups section of the Small Groups module. Active and Future groups are listed by default but note how you can select between viewing Past, Active and Future small groups - if your new group isn't listed, check that you're viewing the correct group status!

Duplicating an existing small group

You can speed up the process of creating multiple new groups in ChurchSuite by using the Duplicate option. This feature is also useful if you run termly groups (e.g. Activate groups) that are started or re-started each term in order to facilitate a new sign-up period to engage newcomers and re-engage existing group members or if you're re-activating a previously archived group and want to re-use the same group settings without affecting the historical group data.

Duplicating a group has the effect of duplicating every aspect of the small group settings, including the group visibility and sign-up settings and, optionally, the previous members and roles of the group. During the duplication process you can of course edit the group details before saving.

When duplicating an existing group, notice the Duplicate members checkbox option. If you just want to duplicate the group and its setting, but not the members and roles, untick the Duplicate members checkbox before saving the changes to your duplicated group.

You can also duplicate a group by selecting Duplicate from the Action menu in the Groups list.

Importing small groups

If you're new to the Small Groups module - perhaps transitioning from a different system - you may have a list of your existing small groups, which you can easily import into ChurchSuite. The small group "importer" is also ideal for churches or organisations running termly groups, where you might be collating lists of future groups outside of ChurchSuite - the small group "importer" can make that process of bulk-creating groups really easy! Let's see how...

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

The Import page contains lots of useful information to help you prepare your file ready for import. There's even an Example file that you can download to help get you started - which will help you visualise how your group data needs to be presented, or it can be used as a template for your own 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.

Before upload, make sure your data is in the correct format - a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file. The first row in the file must contain the header information - the column labels that ChurchSuite will use to match the fields in your data to the correct field in ChurchSuite. And if you use our suggested field-naming convention for the header row of your CSV file, ChurchSuite will auto-map the data in your file to the appropriate field in the Small Groups module.

For multi-site customers importing small groups, where Site is not specified in the CSV file, the small groups will be added to the site you're currently viewing; or if viewing "All Sites", they will be created in your first site. If your data includes groups relating to different sites, we recommend that you specify each group's site with a Site column in your CSV file and import that file viewing as "All sites". Also, make sure that the site name specified in your data precisely matches the site names you have first created in ChurchSuite!

When you are ready to proceed, click Choose file to navigate to and select the CSV to be uploaded. Then click Upload CSV File.

ChurchSuite now displays a preview of the first 5 records in your CSV file so that you can check that the CSV Header fields are correctly mapped to the right field in ChurchSuite - the Import As column shows which field in ChurchSuite the data from your CSV file will be assigned to. Any CSV Header fields not matched to a ChurchSuite field are distinguished by a yellow warning triangle and will not be imported...

However, you can use the drop-down Import As selector to choose the correct ChurchSuite field that the CSV Header item should be mapped to. In the example below, "name of group" is not a recognised CSV Header, but needs to be imported into the "Name" field in ChurchSuite. The yellow warning triangle will disappear once an Import As field has been selected, or you can select --Do not import-- if you do not want to import the data in a particular column.

Once you are satisfied that all CSV Header fields will be Imported As the correct field in ChurchSuite, scroll to the end of the page and click Import All Records to complete the import. Alternatively, click Cancel if you discover an issue that needs to be addressed in your CSV file.

The import progresses to the Preview/Edit stage. Valid groups are distinguished with a green tick next to their name. Invalid groups requiring attention are distinguished with a yellow warning triangle and details of the Errors are provided. You can View, Edit (to fix the invalid data) or even Remove a group from the import.

Selecting Edit for a group with an error will surface full details of the invalid data, providing you an opportunity to fix or remove the invalid data.

Continue working through and resolving each error in the list. Note that you can Pause or Cancel a group import at any time. You can also Process groups at any time - only valid groups will be processed and imported; invalid groups with errors will remain in the "Preview/Edit" until resolved or removed.

To resume a Pending import, click Import group from the Groups section of the Small Groups module. Partial/incomplete imports are surfaced on the Imports tab. From here you can Resume or Cancel a partial import. Resuming an import takes you back to where you last left off.

Having resolved all remaining errors you can now Process to complete the import. A success message confirms the completion of a successful import.

The completion of the import process takes place in the background. For large imports this may take a little while. During this time the import progress is shown on the partial Imports list.

Successfully-imported groups are assigned to a Small Groups module Tag called Import <date time> where <date time> is in your local format e.g. Import 01-01-2022 11:59am. Import tags can be useful if you identify an issue after import - for example, if you missed a field during the import. Using this import tag you can easily select and bulk-delete just those imported groups, and then re-run the import process again. You can safely delete import tags when they are no longer required.

Deleting small groups

Small groups remain active unless an end date has been added fore the group and that end date has passed. The group then moves from the active list to the past list. Group details, the group's member list and historic group attendance are preserved in tact, and a past group can be set active again by editing the group's start date and end dates accordingly

It's also possible to delete unwanted groups when that data is no longer required or no longer serves a useful purpose. We recommend "ending" groups rather than deleting. For clarity, deleting a small group has the following consequences -

  • the group and all associated group attendance will be permanently and irreversibly removed from ChurchSuite
  • the group members will be removed from the group and a "Left group" key date will be added to each former group member. The group members themselves will not be deleted from the Address Book or Children module
  • any smart tags that contain group conditions that specifically reference the deleted group will break and will need to be edited and fixed

To delete a group select Delete from the groups list...

...or click Delete at the top of the group's view page.

The delete confirmation is used to complete the deletion process.

Managing small group capacity

You can easily manage the Capacity of small groups, effectively allowing 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 sign up periods!

For those using the Activate small group model (created by Nelson Searcey), greater small group engagement is encouraged by setting group capacity restrictions 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 to an empty group.

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

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

Similarly, Users of other modules using the Add to group action available on contact profile pages, tag pages and contact batch actions, are also able to optionally Ignore capacity and proceed.

Note: A 'capacity' warning is not provided when an Add to group action is processed within a Flow - contacts being processed through the Flow are added without restriction or warning.

Setting a small group's capacity

Small group capacity can only be set for groups that have 'sign up' enabled. On the Edit group pop up, scroll down to the Sign Up section and check that at least Sign up through Group page is enabled, although other sign-up options can also be ticked as appropriate. If you want people to sign up to the group it will need to be visible too, so tick the group's Visibility settings as appropriate.

In the Sign Up section, specify the range of Dates within which group sign-up will be open - a start date is required but an optional end date will keep sign-up open indefinitely. Now, set the group Capacity as appropriate. Once a group's sign up capacity is reached, no further sign ups will be possible - the group will show as being 'full' on the group page.

Before saving the group, note the other sign up option that determine when the group's Member List is visible to the group's members in My ChurchSuite and the default Member Status that determines whether sign-ups are added to the group with an Active or Pending status. Pending status group members will need to be set active in the group - this can be done by a Small Groups module User or a group member with Edit Group Details roles permissions, typically assigned to a group leader.

Repeat for each of your small groups.

Now, when people sign up to the group in My ChurchSuite, they'll either see a Sign-up button...

or, if the group is full they'll see a This group is now full message.

Similarly, if someone is signing up through the Connect Group List or small group Embed, groups that have reached capacity will be clearly shown.

We continue to display groups, even if they are full, otherwise people will not see a clear picture of your small group ministry, perhaps thinking there are only one or two small groups, when in fact you actually have many small groups but all but two of them are full!

Monitoring small group capacity and sign up progress

In the Small Groups module's Reports section is a helpful Capacity report that provides a concise and quick visual report on how group sign up is progressing. Optionally filter the report to just see certain groups in Group Tags or Clusters - remember to hit Generate to apply the filters.

Promoting groups on social media

You can easily promote your organisations small groups by sharing them on popular social media like Facebook and Twitter.

On each group's "View" page in the Small Groups module there is a Share button at the top that has options to share the public-facing group page to Facebook and Twitter. The Share button is only visible for active and future-dated groups.


Sharing to Facebook may require you to modify your Facebook App settings. When sharing an group page to Facebook, you may receive an error message like this...

To resolve this, log in to Facebook and navigate to your "Apps" settings and enable "Apps, Websites and Plug-ins". Then try sharing your group to Facebook again.

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