If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that we use Fellowship One at Gateway Church here in Austin. You’ll also know that I’m a big fan. This week I have a handful of posts about F1, specifically about check-in. However, I thought I’d begin this little series of posts explaining why I’m such a big fan.

  1. Fellowship One was not the first church management system I’ve used, but it was the first check-in system I’ve used. The church I was at decided to switch to another system, which we used for 18 months before switching to another system. Two years later they switched yet again. I’ll just say that the two years after leaving F1 were not very fun when it came to check-in. Not only have I used other systems, but I’ve researched, tested and explored countless other systems. No other system matches F1. No one. You may find another system that does fast check-in, but it may not tie into event registration or other family involvement as seamlessly. This is why I’m a fan.
  2. Flexibility. F1 is the most flexible check-in systems available. If I want all kids to be pre-assigned to classes before they arrive on Sunday, I can do that. If I don’t want kids to ever be assigned to any classrooms and allow them to check in to any classroom, I can do that. Even kids with assignments can switch to a different classroom without requiring an act of Congress. It’s all automated and 95% of the time, check-in attendants can just follow what F1 is directing them to do, and they’ll be right. The system is flexible enough that we can even come up with out of the box ideas of how to assign kids to special events, classes or groups and it just works. Nothing is as fast and flexible. This is why I’m a fan.
  3. Control. With F1, I have control. It sounds bad when I say that, but really, it’s a good thing. At Gateway we experience near-capacity attendance in the Fall and Winter months. Literally, 80% of my Early Childhood rooms will reach maximum capacity. Non-intuitive check-in systems cause you to sometimes have 4 kids in one classroom with 25 in the one next door. With F1, I can load balance rooms so that they fill up evenly. I can close rooms when they get too full allowing kids to overflow into other rooms with more space. Through assignments, I can make sure certain kids always check into the same classroom. Last of all, I can shut down ministry areas to protect ratios or prevent over-crowding (unsafe ministry environments).

There are lots of other cool things about F1 and check-in, but you’ll just have to find out what those are for yourself.