Being a pastor is a tough job: it’s hard to care for and shepherd people who one minute are desperate for you counsel and prayers and then are furious at you and threatening to leave the church in the next. Fortunately—or not—I only work as a pastor part-time.
However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to keep track of people who need care, counsel, or prayer. And to be honest, I’m not really good at remembering those types of things. That’s why an app like The CareNotebook is so perfect for me.
The CareNotebook is set up with a pastor and staff in mind. For each person who needs care, you can create a “care card” with space for all of their personal details and a brief bio. From there, you can create reminders to help you make sure you give your people the care they need. (Reminders can be “delivered” via e-mail or push notifications.) You can also create “To Do” items unrelated to the cards. This turns a nice “care” focussed app/service into a much more powerful organizational tool, especially for a long pastor or a small staff.
Now, if you have a larger staff or an elite group of laypeople, you can create “care teams” and then assign them care cards with attached reminders. I can personally attest that delegation is a skill lacking in many ministers, and this function is a great way to get past that limitation. In fact, I think that this might be a great way to involve lay people: have a staff pastor assign follow-up or other pastoral care items to qualified/called lay people via the CareNotebook. If you’re a church with an engaged, elite laity, this could be a true leap forward in how you shepherd your flock.
As far as access is concerned, the CareNotebook is designed to function both on an iPad and an iPhone, but if you’re not blessed to have an iOS device, you can also access it on the web.
As of right now, the CareNotebook is a fairly isolated app/service. There’s no tie-in to other apps or services. Now, this may be forthcoming, or it may be muddy CareNotebook up too much. I’m not passing judgement, but my gut reaction is that social media integration would be huge for some power users. For example, if I were able to automagically create card from the profile of one of my “friends”—just name and photo or something equally as basic—then I would be able to seriously increase my efficiency as most of the prayer requests I receive from parishioners come to to me via Facebook. And yet, this isn’t a deal breaker by any stretch.
For me, the only real drawback, the only thing that would keep me from having a paid account, is the fact that my church uses Church Community Builder as our ChMS, and almost all of CareNotebook’s functionality is included, in some form, in Church community Builder. Of course, if your church doesn’t have a ChMS or has a paired down system that only tracks specific bits of data, the CareNotebook could truly be a support to what you have now…if only were a bit cheaper. Granted that I’m not a developer, but for me, the CareNotebook seems best suited for a smaller church, and $17/month (discounted one-time annual payment) seems like a lot, especially when you think about how many “social” hurdles there are in getting a smaller church to accept new technology. When it comes to money, I like to use my church as an example, and we would need to use the “Medium Team” option at a discounted annual payment of $420. For a church our size, that’s a totally doable amount of money, but then again, most churches our size have a ChMS that does a lot (and more) of what the CareNotebook is offering.
In the end, I really do like the CareNotebook and would certainly recommend it to any of the following three ministry scenarios:
- A church with one pastor since it’s certainly cheap enough, and a lone pastor needs all the help possible;
- A “small church” that doesn’t have a ChMS or at least not one powerful enough to handle this type of data;
- And a church so large that it can do whatever it wants with its money, including possibly creating system redundancies—i.e. the CN and a ChMS which does the same thing—for the sake of ministerial preferences.
That last scenario doesn’t seem very likely, but I can imagine a large church with a commiserate budget that would purchase such a system because they like it, whether they need it or not.
In the end, the pricing structure is the only thing that gives me concern. The CareNotebook looks good, has a simple, intuitive interface, and offers a decent amount of features (with some noticeable gaps in social media integration), enough that I’ll wholeheartedly endorse it.
Value for Money (3.5)
A free trial of The CareNotebook was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.