How does Churchteams compare to Planning Center?

Are you thinking of making a change in Church Management Software?
Read the comments from actual church staff members who have used Churchteams and
other competitor products, when asked to compare Churchteams to Planning Center.

How does Churchteams compare to Planning Center Online?

Rather than our staff answering this question, we thought it would be more valuable to hear from actual staff with experience using or evaluating Churchteams and Planning Center. 

The unedited comments below were posted in our Facebook Community as a response to someone asking for reasons to switch to Planning Center or stay with Churchteams.  

Church Consultant perspective: “I spend most of my waking hours helping churches choose ChMS software when they reach the conclusion that their current solution isn’t meeting their needs. My experience is that the most important thing is to understand the ministry problems you are trying to solve first – then evaluate solutions. When you start with the solution, it forces you to skip defining the problem. I think it was Albert Einstein who said that with limited time to solve a problem, he’d spend 90% of the time defining the problem and 10% solving it… I’m sure I messed up the quote, but you get the point.

So, I’d start with what are the problems you’re (they’re) trying to solve. And what’s the root cause of that problem – is it a system limitation in CT, a configuration or process issue, or a training issue. 

Many times people blame configuration and training issues on the system when the real issue is that they just didn’t know how to do it in the system. PCO won’t fix that.

Are the processes or training issues that you need to address first?

Church Teams and PCO think about data and how the church ministries are structured VERY differently. CT is obviously very groups focused – everything is a group, and all features center around the group concept. PCO is very much centered around individuals. PCO is 8 different apps, and the biggest difference in PCO vs CT is probably in the way that each of those apps do 1 thing – check-ins is *a thing* – PCO Groups, Registrations, Check-ins, and Calendars have some relationships to each other, but not in the way you would expect. So, if you need to assign kids to their class roster and then check them into that roster, you’ll find that very difficult because PCO only assigns check-in based on age/grade/gender filters. I could go on – but those are ways that PCO solves a ministry problem. If you don’t define your problem first and what solved looks like, you’ll have a difficult time evaluating whether PCO solves it.

As others have noted – PCO support is a different model than almost any other ChMS in the market – they don’t have sales, onboarding, or professional staff at all. They only have support via email. It’s very good support, but you’ll probably never speak to anyone above the tier 1 email support agent that responds to your ticket for anything. Have an idea of something you’d like to see on their roadmap – support will add it to a list for you. But as others have noted – you won’t get to talk with an owner who can decide whether to put it on the roadmap like you have here…

I don’t have a dog in the hunt, and there are plenty of my clients that I would say CT is not a good fit for, including some that PCO would absolutely be the right fit. I try to stay unbiased – but in a ChMS industry that’s being taken over by private equity companies whose ONLY interest is 1% of your monthly payment transactions, Boyd Pelley pushes the limits of my unbiased opinion. What’s the biggest reason someone should choose CT – Boyd wakes up with the same mission to disciple people that you do. Period. CT is good and capable software – but that’s it. CT exists to disciple people. Every day.”

Database Administrator, 3500+ weekly attendance:  “When we were evaluating, we had it narrowed down to PCO and Rock RMS, but a consultant encouraged me to check out Churchteams, and I realized it would do everything we needed and wanted, more integrated, more easily, and all in one place… except for service planning like PCO. 

Our worship team has used PCO pretty much forever, because its service planning function is really in a class of its own. You’ll find that a lot. So worship kept PCO for service planning and they still do their volunteer scheduling there, but we helped them see that ‘their people’ are our people – we’re all ministering to the same body, and they’re all serving with the same body, and all our people need to be in one place so we can all minister holistically. 

Now our worship team does more and more in CT because it is what we have decided is our central hub. They do attendance for their teams, registrations for all their events and everything in CT because this is the program we use for those things. Churchteams was a better choice for all our ministries, not just one. 

At some point, you have to decide which will be a better choice on a holistic level and then make that the standard. (I’m hoping worship will check out the volunteer scheduling in CT, but it’s not a hill I’m willing to die on as long as they keep everything else here.) “

Administrator, regarding support and Churchteams communication features: “CT has excellent customer service and support. PC only provides support via email (at least that was the case 2 years ago when we were using it). Also PC charges for each and every feature. CT has a very good built-in email generator, it comes with some great templates, and creating your own is very easy. I am still learning bits and pieces, but I am ever grateful we made the switch.”

 

Administrator, regarding support and Churchteams Giving feature: They do NOT want to do that switch. PCO charges for each module. CT allows for Soooo many options. Customer support is off the chain. If you have a problem they find a way to make it better asap. You can email or text all the things you need to go out. Contributions are so EASY with CT. 99% of your reports can be saved and updated instantly. If you have volunteers who schedule…PCO is a pain for them. Unless someone is wanting PCO to only schedule the service down to the minute along with lighting and audio and music…DON’T. Just don’t switch.

Administrator regarding Churchteams functionality: “One of the things that we really liked about CT is that it is NOT a calendar tool. We are heavily invested in Google Workspace for our event scheduling, room reservations, document sharing, etc. I manage 15 different calendars for all our different ministries and sub ministries. It integrates well on our website, and changes made anywhere are reflected instantly. 

MOST of the other CHMS tools we evaluated had their version of a calendar scheduling tool. But none of them was as robust as Google Calendar. Many of them said they “integrated” with Google, but it was only a one-way push to Google. You couldn’t make changes in Google and see them reflected in the ChMs. We could not justify purchasing an application knowing that there was one large component of it that we would NEVER use. 

CT doesn’t have a calendar tool, and I hope they never do, honestly. That’s not a problem that needs solved in my opinion. We have been asked about an actual APP, but so far, we’ve been able to configure the ME card to have everything people want to access on a regular basis, Directory, Giving, Dinner Menu, Live Streaming channel. We are about to launch a Deacon’s Daily Devotion, and we are experimenting with all the neat ways we can accomplish that using CT.”

Former Church Exec. Administrator, current Consultant:  “I have been working with churches of all sizes and denominations across the country for over a decade now. I can echo what the consultant said in an earlier post. There are many, many times when a ChMS such as Churchteams or Planning Center Online gets the blame for something when in reality, it is an education and training issue rather than a missing or broken process or feature. Education and training needs to be a continual process at almost every church. 

Those parents in your preschool ministry that you trained 5-6 years ago have moved on up to the next age group, and you now have new parents and volunteers to train. The same goes for your database and ChMS administrator. If you trained them 5+ years ago, well – there have probably been a ton of new features, processes, and enhancements done to most ChMS products by now that need to be identified, supported, and implemented in your church or ministry. 

And, as others have mentioned many times already – SUPPORT is a foundational and critical issue for every single product out there. And “support” is so very much more than just simple break/fix responses. Does your ChMS vendor see you solely as a revenue stream and continually try to “upsell” you or guide you towards more costly options? Or does the company TRULY PARTNER with you and your church, with a deeply held calling and focus, to best serve you as you reach and serve others in a manner that fosters solid stewardship of your limited time, dollars, and resources? 

I have worked with over a dozen different ChMS providers. I can unequivocally say that the service and support provided by Churchteams (and ACS out of Florence, SC) are unequaled – period. Not only do they support their product – they support YOU, YOUR MINISTRY, and YOUR CALLING to serve your community! I have personally worked with Churchteams Support multiple times to resolve issues, learn alternate ways to use their system in order to accommodate a church’s organizational workflow, and work with them to suggest, develop/beta test/troubleshoot, and train and implement product enhancements. 

Time after time, a message sent over to Churchteams support is responded to directly by Senior Churchteams Leadership, frequently Boyd Pelley and Mark Horan directly (I’m actually working through an issue with them right now!). They are extremely generous with their time and expertise and have a personal desire to help you execute the most effective and efficient ministry decisions you make while using their system. And on more than one occasion, they have also freely shared their wide breadth of knowledge within the ChMS market and suggested products or services from alternate competitor vendors who may excel at executing a particular function or feature you require that they don’t offer. 

I would strongly suggest surveying your user base for their top issues with Churchteams – real or perceived – and then get with Boyd or someone at Churchteams and see what they can offer to help you. And – if you do make the decision to leave – they will be just as gracious and accommodating in helping you migrate your data over. But I think you might be pleasantly surprised at what they can offer you. 

Praying for you and your church as you work through this season. Changing ChMS products is not to be taken lightly, and it does have a high cost in time, dollars, and resources to get everything cleanly migrated over and replicated in your new system. Good luck! I’d love to hear how things turn out as you work through this – it could be of great benefit to many others facing this decision in the future. Sorry for the very long post… Blessings! “