The landscape of team communication has exploded with options.
At Church Comm Team, we use a combination of Slack and Monday for communication and project management, and with the expansion of work-from-home and remote freelancing in the last 2 years, churches are looking for the best solutions.
While we are pretty set on Monday being the best tool for helping teams accomplish work, manage projects, and communicate the status of items to each other, we recognize there are several good communication tools that compete with Slack.
So, while we think none of these are to be a replacement of email (that’s a whole other blog), I wanted to put together a list of the best and most-suggested team communication tools here to help you make the choice.
The Best Team Communication Tools
Now, these all do basically the same thing and can probably work for you as long as you set clear expectations for your team, define how you want them used, and set them up correctly. However, each offers a few different features that may interest you. Tap the headings for links to their pages.
Before we get started, a quick note about things like this: don’t be cheap when it comes to communication. Many of these solutions offer a free version that is all you need. However, if you’re going in on something for your whole staff and a paid version is better for communicating and what you need, pony up the dough and get the right tool for the right task.
The most obvious and reliable choice for team communications. Slack is a free (up to a certain number of messages) solution that if organized correctly, can be a great team communication platform for your church staff. Set up channels for different departments or direct message anyone in the organization easily and eliminate the very unprofessional yelling across the hall or scaring the crap out of your coworkers with a sudden intercom call on the office phone.
One of the new features of Slack is to make audio calls in channels or in DM’s, however, video calling is not yet available on the free version. It also has the ability to schedule messages to be sent in the future for those moments after hours where you think of a great idea, but don’t want to bother your team til tomorrow but also don’t want to forget what the idea was.
Slack is a little difficult to get set up, as you must do the setup online in your browser, but that is also part of a particular feature that some may like. The feature is that you can open slack in a browser window or download a desktop app. I prefer the app, but everyone is different. The mobile version is very simple to use as well and there is something to be said for a desktop app and mobile app offering a similar experience. The same goes for Discord if you’re comparing the two. Speaking of which…
What started as an app for gamers to chat with a community while they streamed video of themselves on Twitch playing Minecraft, Discord has emerged as a powerful and free community-building app for team communications. Available on desktop and mobile, Discord does everything that Slack does plus a little more. It’s the app we are looking at seriously for Church Comm Team. Personally, I am also looking at starting a channel based around The Seminary of Hard Knocks Podcast instead of using my Facebook group but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.
Discord allows encrypted messaging, calls, video calls, gifts/emojis, public and private channel set up, and all the other basics of direct messaging and group messaging that Slack does. In addition, Discord allows the embedding of live streams to channels, so in theory, it would be a place you could stream your live services to a community that offers chat right in the window much like Facebook or Church Online Platform. It also offers massive control over permissions, so you can choose who is in each group, which groups are private or public, and make it easy for users to sort themselves into topic channels (something Slack does not do).
If you want a really exhaustive look at what Discord can do for churches, check out the upcoming episode of my podcast with the guys from BlkBar or check out this YouTube video from them.
The strength of Signal is in its security. It is a peer-reviewed, open-source, end-to-end encrypted messaging system. That’s fancy talk for “we aren’t listening to you for marketing purposes.” It is available on mobile and desktop and is funded by grants and donations, so large companies can’t buy or sell your information (or steal it) from them. Also, it’s free, so you can’t beat that.
Signal basically functions as a typical messenger app. You can text, call, send gifs and emojis, and set up group chats. As far as messaging platforms go, it’s fairly basic in its function and the interface is very easy to pick up and understand. I do like that you are required to have your own pin number, however, you must enter your cell phone number to use the app on mobile which may concern some staff members.
I hate all things Microsoft except for Xbox, so, yes, I’m that guy. However, Teams isn’t a bad choice, especially for those teams who are more comfortable with a Windows environment. Having never used it myself, I can only give some of the features and feedback I’ve heard from those who have.
It’s my understanding that Teams functions as somewhat of a hybrid between communication like Slack and project management like Asana or Basecamp, offering messaging, calling, and video chat but also checklists and to-do lists your people can collaborate on. Group video calling is a top feature as well, which is great for remote work and it functions in your browser, desktop app, or mobile app.
End-to-end encrypted team communications messaging with unlimited voice and video. This app from Mozilla (the makers of the Firefox browser) gives you the option to choose where you store your messages and data, either locally by you or on a secure server by them. It’s nice to have options! Like Signal, Element is built as a secure open-source platform so it is very secure about how your data is handled. It is available on the web (in browser), a downloadable desktop app, as well as mobile, so you can keep up wherever.
A basic group and direct messaging app that offers SMS texting to the groups, so you don’t have to actually download the app to be in the group and communicate. I personally used this app to communicate with a homegroup I was part of and it was very helpful. GroupMe can do the basics of text messaging, though it has the ability to send polls to your groups or create events for reminders in groups. I don’t recommend this for church team communication as it is very limited compared to other options, however, it can be a powerful small group communication tool.
This group messaging platform is really set up for teachers to use with parents and students in their classrooms. It has the same functions as GroupMe and is fairly basic: put contacts into group lists or direct message them. I don’t recommend this app for team communication in the church setting, but can be helpful for small group leaders to connect with their ever-changing groups in adult ministry rather than a full-blown Facebook group or learning a robust app like Slack or Discord.
Band is more of an announcement hub kind of platform, though it offers group and private messaging just like all the rest. The difference is that Band allows you to see when someone has read a message or not, which is kind of like a Planning Center feature. It also will remind group members of upcoming events you set up or allow you to send the equivalent of an app notification to groups when important information needs to go out. This platform may be a good solution instead of a mobile app for your members, but in my opinion, it lacks several features to make it great for team communication.
I hope that helps you make some decisions about your team communications. As always, contact us at Church Comm Team if you want access to a team of pros to either fill in your communcation gaps at your church or set up systems and tools to help you communicate Jesus to a digital world! Set up a free consultation call HERE.