Are there any other plans for ChurchSuite within Christ Church?

Yes, our Communications team are already using ChurchSuite to provide us with a Calendar to provide on-line information on forthcoming events. All public events can be seen on the calendar on the website. Church members can see the calendar also within MyChurchSuite, and additionally they will be able to see events that are not open to the public. This is work in progress.  In due course the calendar will enable people to sign up for events where appropriate.

We have also started to set up church and hall bookings which will be done through ChurchSuite, making it easier for Pat to manage bookings.

Why are Rotas included?

We have decided to use ChurchSuite to record rotas for the 9am and 10:30am Sunday services, youth and children’s groups and midweek activities.  ChurchSuite will allow an automated reminder system to be introduced. Rota members will be able to record swaps easily on MyChurchSuite without having to worry about remembering to change the list in the porch when they are next in church. The rota identifies clashes clearly, which can so easily be overlooked by volunteers with busy lives. ChurchSuite will also provide a single report of everyone who is on a rota on Sunday and this will be extremely helpful for the wardens and the ministry team. Other rotas will be included if this seems appropriate at a later stage.

Why are Church Groups included?

Home groups and other groups comprising adult members of Christ Church have been included in ChurchSuite to simplify distributing information to members.  For example, distribution of sermon series questions can easily be done from ChurchSuite, whereas previously it has been done from ministry team members’ individual email address lists. Being able to do this through ChurchSuite means that the home group leaders contact list will be kept up to date through a single point of data entry and members of the ministry team do not need to build and maintain their own personal address lists. PCC and other groups categorised as ‘administration’ have been added, and other groups will be added if that helps contact members on a regular basis.

Groups and Rotas

PCC has approved the use of ChurchSuite to support the administration of our numerous groups and rotas.  Those of us who are members of a group and/or on a rota can expect to receive communications via ChurchSuite when we are fully up and running. Queries on group matters should still be sent to your group leader; and queries on rotas should still be sent your rota lead – or if unclear to a church warden.

Are Children’s details also held on ChurchSuite?

Yes – where this helps the administration of regular children’s activities – such as Kids Church, Mini Church, Tot’s Church, Pathfinders, Youth Connect Groups and Friday Nite Live. Children’s groups and activities are recorded in a separate section under the direct control of our children and families and youth workers.  The ‘search for others’ function will not reveal the names of any children. However, a child’s record requires a parent contact to be entered and in this way all children’s records are linked to their parents. The parents have access to the data held on their children through MyChurchSuite and can update or amend the details as they wish. One important feature is that parents will be able to record information such as the child’s GP, any allergies or special needs. This is information we require at registration for many of our children’s activities and ChurchSuite enables parents to enter this once and routinely keep it up to date.  There are many features in the children’s module which makes it easy to administer children’s activities such as printing registers and badges, enabling parents to sign up for events through the website and communicating directly with parents.

Will I get lots more emails?

Many emails are exchanged daily between groups and people on rotas already. The idea is that ChurchSuite makes it easier to manage email address lists from a single point within the database, improving accuracy and data protection and saving time. Emails that you get through ChurchSuite are emails that would have been sent anyway from someone’s personal inbox. The only email traffic that will increase is a reminder during the week that you are on a rota. This is a simple message that is easily deleted. Currently, we cannot ‘switch off’ this message to an individual, without switching it off for everyone on the rota. Individuals may choose not to receive any emails from within ChurchSuite by editing their details accordingly in MyChurchSuite. However, we strongly advise against this as it will mean that important communication from church will be missed, especially as this will be the primary method of communication to groups used by the ministry team, PCC and other church members who lead groups and events.

Most people like to have an email alert for the rota, but if you are not happy to receive this, please bear with us. We have raised this as an issue for development with ChurchSuite and it is possible that in the future they will enable us to switch email alerts off for individuals within a rota, without switching off the individual contact’s ability to receive all emails from ChurchSuite.

Will my details be passed on to others?

No.  Church member details are used solely to contact members about church activities, such as events, meetings and important developments in our church life.  We also use the Electoral Roll and other data held in ChurchSuite to complete statistical returns requested by the Church of England, currently twice a year. Statistical reporting by Churches is important and a rapidly developing area within the CofE. ChurchSuite puts us in a much better position to respond accurately and speedily in the future.

How confidential are my personal details?

Christ Church, and the ChurchSuite company themselves, are fully compliant with the Data Protection Act. Church members may access their own individual details but have the option of making their address and contact details (email and telephone) available to other Christ Church members.

Group leaders can distribute information and meeting details to their group members from within MyChurchSuite without having to set up distribution lists in their personal email.  Replies will come to the group member’s personal email in the usual way. Emails sent from ChurchSuite to groups only show an individual recipient’s email address, ensuring that emails are fully compliant with best practice in data protection.

The rotas recorded on ChurchSuite can only be seen by other members on that rota.

A small number of church officers are designated administrators for ChurchSuite and therefore have wider-access to personal data on the main database.  They are the electoral roll officer; church wardens; church administrator and 2 PCC members.  Collectively this group maintain ChurchSuite and act as system managers.  This is less than the same number of individuals with previous access to the Electoral Roll.

Whose details can I search for on MyChurchSuite?

We have set up the system so that initially, the only contacts that others can search for are people on the electoral roll, the ministry team and administrators of the database. This is because these people have all given their permission for their data to be ‘published’. The electoral roll officer has already consulted on publication of the electoral roll and will do so again at the next formal revision. However, there are many people who are members of our congregation who are not on the electoral roll, and those details are not currently visible. We would be delighted if those people could let Pat Blyth know that they wish their details to be made visible in address book and we will enable that to happen. We would also be delighted if people who are eligible to be on the electoral roll, but have not yet got round to registering, would complete an Electoral Roll form which can be found at the back of the church.

Can I ask for my details to remain confidential?

Yes, of course.  All details are held as confidential until members allow their contact details to be available for other church members to search and view through the ‘search for others’ function in MyChurchSuite. Only the contact details that people will see are those that you want people to see. When you first receive an invitation to login to MyChurchSuite, the default setting will only allow your name to be shown. We hope that church members will be happy to show more contact details to make it easy for people to contact each other, but that is entirely a matter for individual preference.

Can I see the information held about me on ChurchSuite

Yes, this is through a facility named My ChurchSuite which you can access on a computer, tablet or mobile phone.  MyChurchSuite is an ideal way for church members to stay connected to one another and stay up to date on all that’s going on in the life of your church. Through MyChurchSuite, church members are able to update and manage their details, sign-up for events, join small groups, keep on top of the rotas they’re serving on and much more!  Changes in their individual contact details, or errors, can be corrected by members through MyChurchSuite or for members who prefer not to do this themselves, simply notify Pat Blyth, our church administrator.

ChurchSuite information

We have been trying to find a solution to storing information more effectively and securely, and communicating more efficiently.  From January 2019 we will be using ChurchSuite.  That’s just the brand name for the leading database in the UK specifically developed to support the administration of church functions – electoral roll, contact lists for individuals, home groups, administrative groups such as PCC, kids and youth groups, rotas, calendar and much more.

ChurchSuite holds all the information in one place securely and provides an efficient way of communicating without the need to maintain multiple systems and multiple email address lists. For some months now we have been uploading the data we hold in a variety of places, starting with the electoral roll, making sure at each stage that the data is accurate. We are now at the point where we can provide a variety of reports which the Church of England requires on our many activities in Christ Church, saving much time and energy.

ChurchSuite is also a great communication tool and PCC has agreed that it will be the primary emailing tool by which we send out information to groups and rotas.  Individuals can have access to part of the system through something called MyChurchSuite.  There church members can see the information we hold on them and set their own privacy settings.  The initial trial of the rotas function has been well received.  The latest addition is the calendar which you can see on the website. The benefits are enormous and we hope that you will bear with us as we tease out some inevitable teething troubles from time to time.

We plan to send invitations to MyChurchSuite to the rest of the congregation in May. There will be a briefing after church before then and offers of 1:1 support if needed. Please let your groups know this is coming.

What is ChurchSuite and why does Christ Church need it?

ChurchSuite is a database used by Christ Church to record membership of the church, some church groups and to administer some church rotas.  Our church needs to hold information centrally and this system helps us administer our activities effectively and allows us to communicate more efficiently with members.  ChurchSuite has become the leading database used by churches in the UK and was selected after much thought.