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Free tools to help manage small groups

One of the most important aspects of church life is a vibrant small-group and Sunday school ministry. You can find many free tools to help leaders increase their effectiveness in facilitating these vital programs.

1. Remind 101 easy mass text

Texting is growing as a primary mode of communication and an excellent way to quickly transmit details or changes to people. However, it can be difficult to manage group texts on your phone as members join or leave. Remind 101 solves your texting problems. By texting a code like “@FUMC” to a specific number, members join the text group. Whoever has access to the account can then text the group from any smartphone or web browser. You can even schedule texts ahead of time to remind people of important tasks! And, it’s absolutely free!

Need other ideas for communicating with your small groups? Here are 6 tools to help you do just that!

2. Signup Genius

Signup Genius is the digital version of passing around a list of needed items. A couple of clicks allows you to set important event information, such as the date and time. The next step is creating a list of supplies or tasks. All you need to do is list the paper goods, desserts or other things needed along with the number of each item. After a couple more questions, your signup is live. Next, you simply invite your group to log on with their name and email address and sign up to bring whatever they wish. A couple of days before the event, they’ll get an email reminding them what they signed up to bring! Signup Genius is completely free to users. It is paid for with small ads that appear on the signups.

This a great way for small groups to better organize their meetings, events and outreach.

3.Take Them a Meal

When small group members have a baby or are going through a difficult time, one of the best ways to offer support is by providing ready-to-eat meals. Take Them a Meal helps coordinate all details of meal ministry. After talking with the family to learn when they would like to receive meals and what sorts of food preferences and allergies they have, any class member can put together a page complete with driving directions and available days.

Once Take Them a Meal is set up, anyone with the invitation can sign up for a meal slot. They will receive an email reminder with delivery details the day before. Take Them a Meal also offers quick and easy recipes as well as a way to order meals to be sent from their third-party vendors. Like the other tools in this list, this service is free.

4. My Attendance Tracker

If tracking attendance is desirable to avoid overlooking people in need, consider My Attendance Tracker. Though it is designed with the face-to-face classroom in mind, My Attendance Tracker could be used for other purposes as well. Once you set up the group, taking attendance is as easy as logging in and clicking “present” or “absent” for each participant. You can even look at attendance trends over time. There isn’t an app for this program, however the website interface was designed specifically to be used on mobile devices so it's simple and fast. This free tool is definitely worth checking out!

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