Manage Your Church Membership Data for Free

Planning Center Online is a suite of apps built specifically for churches with churches in mind. These are same guys who make the extremely popular Planning Center Services app that so many church worship teams use to plan their worship services, set lists, and so much more.

While their most popular app is called Services, Planning Center also has several other apps that aim to be the best in each app's category.

To see a list of all the PCO apps visit their website here.

However, today I would like talk about one app in particular that every church can use absolutely free. This is especially great for smaller churches working on an extremely tight budget. If you are part of a small church, you know that every penny counts. Often times spending resources on software gets put on the back burner, but that doesn't mean that software isn't needed.

Of all the issues that churches deal with when it comes to tracking data, the first bit of information every church needs to track is membership data. Who are our church members, and what do we know about them? Every church needs to have a central place with every members contact information.

This is where PCO comes to the rescue. PCO People is an app from Planning Center that allows you to track unlimited member records and even track custom information for each individual for the great low price of FREE.

Now you might be asking how they can provide a free solution like this and reliably support it. To put it simply, PCO Services is so extremely popular that they have the financial resources to continue to provide PCO People for free. There is no catch. It is absolutely free software. It also happens to be the backbone of the other PCO apps, so if you ever want to add another paid app to your account, all of your people data is already there. However, there isn't a requirement to do so.

My church happened to be using PCO Services before PCO People existed. At that time, we didn't have a software system to manage all of our membership data. As a matter of fact, our contact information was a mess of spreadsheets and word documents. I had spent a ton of time researching Church Management Systems, but I was unable to convince the church board to spend the extra resources on a ChMS. I was frustrated with the was things were. The youth department had one list of people. The children's department had a partial list of people. The church office had a word document with the church membership list, and our accountant had a completely separate list of donors.

That's when PCO released their People app. I was immediately impressed. Check out this video from Planning Center below.

A quick overview of how PCO People can help you organize your ministry.

The best part of the whole app was that it was absolutely FREE. I can do free, and so I started importing the data from all of our systems. Our church staff was encouraged to all use the PCO People app to track member information. Once we had all the information in one place, we realized something. We were missing information on some of our members. So we collect that information. Then we began to realize just how powerful this new system was. When we needed to contact someone, we had one place to go. When we needed to contact a whole group of people, we could filter the people we needed to contact into a list.

Then we realized that we could use PCO people to track even more information about each person. We could track their volunteer information. We could track who has a background check on file. We could track forms like medical releases. We could track dates like salvations and baptisms.

PCO wasn't quite through bringing new features to the table though. Soon they released another feature to the PCO People app called Workflows. With work flows you can set up a series of steps to process people through and assign a staff member to each step. One of the best uses for this is visitor follow up. Your church may find a ton of other uses as well. You could set up a series of steps for becoming a church member. Basically you can track a person's progress through whatever steps your church already uses, and if you don't have a great process for visitor follow up, this is a great place to start.

PCO still had more to announce (and will keep updating their apps with great new features in the future). Recently PCO announced People for iOS. If you have an iPhone, you can now easily access all of your church membership information and contact information on the device you are most likely to contact them with. PCO also mentioned that an Android apps was in the works.

If you are interested in checking out more about PCO People, visit the website below and click the "Sign Up" button.

God bless,

Pastor Nate Cress

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