HomeDigital MinistryManagement (ChMS)5 Benefits of Open Source Church Management Systems

5 Benefits of Open Source Church Management Systems


Since the dawn of web-based church management systems (ChMS), there hasn’t been much change in this area of technology until recently. Although the shift to the “cloud” back in the late 90s’ turned the church technology market on end (for the better), and shifted many churches to rely on the web instead of leaning on the power of their desktop software, after fifteen or so years, we now have another contender for change: open source church management systems.

It’s a completely different company and product model, so prepare to “free your mind” of the traditional software model you’re accustomed to. What if a world existed where your powerful, robust church management system was free, and the only costs were for hosting and support if you need it? Imagine if users from all over the world could be involved in the evolution of the product and even provide support to one another organically?

Here are the five benefits of open source church management systems:


Benefit #1 – Church Ownership

  • No one “owns” the software. Its development isn’t drive by profit; it will grow in the areas necessary to meet the community’s needs and won’t be sold for profit.

Benefit #2 – Relevant Support

  • With a strong community, the support can more relevant, learning from other churches that are actually using the product like you do.

Benefit #3 – Personal Contribution

  • You can make a difference in that a little hard work and time spent connecting means you have the ability to contribute and possibly even influence the platform.

Benefit #4 – Improved Efficiency

  • In an environment focused on making the global church successful, the sharing of ideas and resources helps prevent duplication of effort and cost, and encourages the type of collaboration that can lead to exponential growth.

Benefit #5 – Product Development

  • Because the goal is to create, update, and improve the church software on a continual basis, all development costs and efforts are pooled and put back into the product itself.

If these benefits sound intriguing to you, I invite you to explore the following top seven open source church management software options as compiled by Capterra, a research site that reviews the best church management software:

  1. ChurchTrac
  2. ChurchInfo
  3. Rock RMS
  4. Working Church
  5. Excellerate
  6. CahabaWorks
  7. AgapeWorks

We’d love to hear about your experience with open source church management systems. Which one works best for your church?


Lauren Hunter
Lauren Hunterhttps://laurenhunter.net
Lauren Hunter is a writer who loves the big picture of God’s journey we are all on together. In 2007, she founded ChurchTechToday, a website for pastors and church leaders to harness technology to improve ministry. Married to her high school sweetheart, Lauren lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. Her latest book is Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ. She can be found online at https://laurenhunter.net.


  1. Thanks for the Rock RMS mention, Lauren. Your stated benefits are right on target, as far as what we hear from churches every day. It’s so exciting to see the industry trending toward more choices for churches.

    • Hey Allan, Thanks for reading! I’m not sure about the open source databases. There are a few open source ChMS companies but we haven’t done a comprehensive review in quite some time. I’ve got an article schedule for January. Let us know if you hear of any church-focused open source systems!


  3. […] I write about ChMS often, and wrote about Bellevue Church Management System (BVCMS) earlier this week, I thought I would highlight some of the differences that The City offers churches. Also, I will […]

  4. This is the 3rd semester for us using this system. I love it. I am able to see from one day to the other about our students’ attendance, send them e-mails, and also keep up with their b-days.
    I recommed everybody to use it.

  5. BCVMS is ChMS that is feature rich and provides functionality that directly relates to my lay leadership activities and allows me to interact at different levels (communication, administration, reporting etc) with the same system. At the same time the user interface is funtionaly designed wich make it easy to use. I am convinced that this its open source framework has contributed to it invaluable relevance since the line between the user community and the deisign team is permeable, producing a continuously relevant product. Additionally, the support is great – Kudos to David and his team.This is not just a system but a ministy tool that is essentially employing techology for the furtherance of the Kingdom. Great stuff!!

  6. We have been using the system for almost one year now and all that touch it love it. David and Karen are very responsive to issue and requests for help, many times within just a few minutes of sending a question by email. We started out using the system strictly in children’s ministry for attendance tracking, self check-in, and for the collection of contact information and such. After other leaders in the church heard about what was going on and the full power of the system, other areas have become involved and we are now in the process of rolling bvcms out as our church-wide data management system as it was intended. We’re very excited to be able to free up the valuable time of the leaders and administrators and give them time back to actually do ministry. Currently we have over 900 records in the system and should top out above 1500. This is a great tool and the community development process has been very beneficial.

  7. ChMS is the most incredible integrated Church software I have ever used or even heard described. This system is designed to record, report and communicate any and every part of your Church ministry. And every member can use as little aor as much as the yare comfortable in using or as much as they want to use. The information is always there for the inquiry if leadership so desires.
    This software is very easy to use. Not that it is simple software. The programmers have done the complicated work and made it easy to use and easy to obtain all reporting. And to my knowledge the size of large data files is not problem. So, large churches should find this as easy and convenient as smaller churches. In fact, large churches will be able to use even more of the applications that are already available. So, I can say I am a big supported of the ChMS software system and recommend this to every church.

  8. We actually got more than we bargained for. We were looking for a way of recording contributions and it turns out BCVMS offers more than just that. The query capabilities along with the touch-screen check-in system, we hope to implement soon, will allow our congregation to be more efficient. We are very excited about BCVMS’s potential and the opportunities it presents for our church.

    Thanks guys.


  9. We have been using bvcms as a church for approaching two years now – and cannot say enough about it! In the past we have used a few different database systems, some that were quite expensive, but none that gave us the simple, user-friendly functionality of bvcms. It handles our attendance tracking for worship, Sunday School, small groups and special events – all quick and easy. It allows for convenient, personal communication through email. Whenever we’ve had questions, we’ve gotten prompt attention, and often a step by step, screen-sharing walk-through solution! This open source software is an incredible gift to the church!

  10. When you have many volunteers in your ministry, BVCMS makes it simple to contact large groups and expidite event planning. I areally love the iphone app. To be able to look up a members contact information while you are away from your computer, on the go, is awesome. BVCMS is certainly a must have for any church!

  11. My church, FCBC Walnut, just started using BVCMS and so far so good. I spent over a year looking at ChMS, on and off because of other priorities. In November 2010, I made the decision to purchase CCB, but when I put it to vote with my business board, there was a hold up because of the lack of Chinese Character support. I then spent some time looking at other tools and I am so thankful to come across this one.

    I chose this instead of the other ChMS systems because of:

    1. Great support – Through David and Karen.
    2. Flexibility – Open source allows unlimited options to mee the needs of my evolving church.
    3. Value – You get a whole lot for the hosting fee. CCB wanted $2,000 to help guide my team through implementation! I know they have a different pricing model, but I still thought that was a little steep.

    We just ordered a barcode reader and I didn’t know entering data about member attendance could be so easy. I’m looking forward to seeing this tool evolve.

  12. I love our bvcms system. It makes it so easy for me to email my group, to check on their status, to see their attendance. I actually email more b/c of this system. David has done a great job. If I have any questions, I can easily find help or even get in contact with one of the team members.

  13. […] 5 Benefits of Open Source Church Management Systems […]

  14. I am not very computer literate, but I do use the site to check to see who was present in my Life Group small group. I have also been able to print out my Chronological Bible study list of ten women. I was thrilled to get all the info—name, birthday, address, phone numbers, and e-mail! With my limited knowledge of how to use the site I am very pleased.


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