In February of 2019 we switched to a new Church Management System (ChMS) called Planning Center. I’d like to explain why the church needs a ChMS to store congregant data, why we chose Planning Center as our database, and how NLCC strives to adhere to Canadian privacy laws and follow best practice for securely managing congregants’ information.
NLCC has obligations both as a B.C. Registered Society and a CRA Registered Charity regarding privacy and record-keeping. ChMS helps organizations like ours fulfill our legal obligation to keep track of necessary data concerning donations, tax receipts, membership, criminal record checks, etc. Online management systems are now how records are kept, especially in a larger church like ours. It also helps us in communicating with and caring for our congregation, as it streamlines important processes such as service planning, facility bookings, event registrations, tax receipt distribution and event attendance.
We chose Planning Center after researching many other ChMSs. In our opinion it’s the most effective and efficient way for the administrative team at NLCC to manage documentation and registrations. We have also found the developers of Planning Center to be very open and responsive to church feedback, implementing new features and actively looking for ways to improve the system for their users. Planning Center streamlines many different aspects of church life for attendees, including child check-in, event registration, youth small group information and follow-up, baptism/membership pipeline, and giving. For volunteers, Planning Center makes it easy to know when you are scheduled and what is expected of you because of the built-in reminders and communication tools. Group leaders have access to some very helpful tools for communication and planning meetings (times, locations, resources). These are some of the basic ways Planning Center, and its public-facing side ‘Church Center’, help our church and its attendees.
We take data privacy very seriously at NLCC and we have spent a good deal of time learning how we as a staff team can continue to grow and maintain a privacy-respectful culture. The two main concerns of data privacy are what is collected and how it is stored. Within our ChMS, we store basic profile information and keep track of historical giving, serving and event attendance. For more detail, click the Data Collection and Storage link at the top of the page.
Planning Center’s documentation on security and privacy can be found here: