Almost every week, I receive an announcement about a new service or software offering for churches. It’s exciting, because we now have so many resources to choose from. As churches, we now have the ability to provide tools for our congregations that take full advantage of the internet. Companies are providing online Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions that help churches track, train, and communicate with their attenders. I think it is great, but I also see a problem developing for small and mid-size churches. With each new service and category of software, we see the overall cost increase to a point that is beyond our reach.

Even though many of these services offer tiered pricing based on the size of the church, when you add all of the different types of software together, the cost is significant. Companies are moving more toward a subscription based pricing model, but that typically increases the overall cost of ownership for the software. When a service is $50 or even $100 a month for a smaller church, that is simply not feasible. Since I live in a rural area, all our churches our smaller and mid-sized, and we all face similar challenges. We want to use tools that will help us be more effective, but the budget is limited.

What do I recommend? Honestly, I would love to see prices for software become more affordable for smaller churches. I understand the need for software companies to make a profit, but I think companies overestimate the budgets of smaller churches. After facility and payroll and ministry expenses, there is not much left for technology and software. Costly software updates are one of the toughest challenges. Software like ProPresenter and Logos have the same upgrade cost for everyone, regardless of church size, and the updates are definitely cost prohibitive. The end result is that even though tools are available, many churches are unable to take advantage of them for ministry. Please understand that I’m not complaining, I just want to see churches use every available tool and method to advance the Gospel and reach their communities for Christ.

Here are just a few of the services that I am aware of, and this is just a sampling of what is actually available. I know that some offer discounts, and that pricing typically changes, but this should provide a good overview of how quickly costs can add up.

  • Church Management Software Systems – typically starting at $100 per month
  • Bible Study Video Services
    • RightNow Media – starting around $80 per month
    • StudyGateway – starting around $80 per month
  • Church Graphics
    • Graceway Media – $400 per year
    • Centerline New Media – $199 per year
    • MinistryPass – $399 per year
    • ProChurch – $399 per year
  • Church Worship and Projection Systems
    • Proclaim – starting at $19.99 per month
    • Planning Center Online – starting at $14 per month
    • CCLI, CVLI, Podcast & Streaming License – $1000 per year
    • High Renewal Costs of ProPresenter, MediaShout, and EasyWorship
  • Church Training
    • Multiple Online Coaching Programs
    • MinistryGrid – starting at $24.99 per month
    • Downline Builder – $49 per year
  • Bible Software
    • Logos – lots of options – but all are costly
    • WordSearch – again lots of options
  • Websites
    • Hosting – from $5 to hundreds of dollars, depending on size of site and traffic
    • Church Website System – typically at least $25 per month
    • Video Hosting – $60 per year for Vimeo
    • Streaming – typically at least $100 per month
    • Mobile App – starting around $50 per month
    • Online Giving – typically starting around $30 per month
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9 Comments

  1. February 13, 2016 at 10:52 am — Reply

    Hey man, Realm by ACSTechnologies is a 100% web based solution starting at $29.99 a month for small churches that is pretty nice. You can see more at http://www.acstechnologies.com/products/realm

    You can contact me if you have any questions. I would love to help.

    • February 13, 2016 at 10:58 am — Reply

      Thanks Chris. That’s a great starting price for a church management system. I really think there is a huge market for easy-to-use inexpensive software for the smaller to mid-sized church.

      • March 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm — Reply

        I used it while I was Executive Pastor. Again, I know I work for ACS, but it really is a nice and easy to use product.

      • May 20, 2016 at 10:06 am — Reply

        Forgot to mention, you get online giving for free in that $29 a month package. Makes it great for church plants and fund raising!

  2. Chris Cuilla
    March 19, 2016 at 2:04 pm — Reply

    Mike, good points overall. That said, I think it’s also important for church staff (and volunteers) to evaluate the cost of these against the value of their time. I think church staff and volunteers often underestimate and under value their time while over-valuing dollars out the door and, as a result, forgo a genuinely better option that saves them in the long run. They see the $50 per month going out the door but may not see or recognize the 3-4 (or more) hours per week being saved. Granted that’s a bit of a marketing failure on the part of many software vendors.

    • March 19, 2016 at 8:08 pm — Reply

      I absolutely agree. But that still poses a problem when the budget simply isn’t there. I see a lot of tools that would help me be more productive, but most pastors still are at the mercy of a budget or financial team. Unfortunately, in a small church setting, where there is typically a single employee, it’s hard to justify spending more money when everyone expects the pastor to do more.

      • Chris Cuilla
        March 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm — Reply

        Fair point Mike.

  3. June 4, 2016 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    I recently took over our website and looking at new web, adding app and forms. Tons of great products, prices are inline with what is mentioned here. The selling point will be the savings of time and as s smaller not wealthy church I do this while having a full time job and MBA program. My other concern besides price is the various flavors of software. Just signed up for the blog and looking to implement network down and will be looking at the piece you wrote.

  4. Glynne
    May 3, 2017 at 4:49 pm — Reply

    The theme of this post kind of bugs me. The thought that all new technology is needed or helpful to the church. For multiple reasons I think all technology for the church requires some careful consideration before using it, especially in worship. But then again I come from the Regulative Principle of Worship. Rather than the almost anything goes view.

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