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
- 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