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Version 6.x Version History

Estimated reading time: 10 min

Version 6.5 Release Notes (Q1 2023)

NEW! Visitor Data Import

Congregate now allows you to import visitor data via a CSV file. You can import visitor contact information in bulk (including name, address, gender, phone, email, comments, last visit date and service, user-created custom fields, and tag the visitor as local or non-local). Download the provided CSV template, add your visitor information, and then re-upload the file – it’s that easy. Learn more under “Import/Export” on our Visitor Tracker support page.

NEW! Manage Your Church’s Account

Congregate Admin users with the account type of “all access administrator” now have the ability to manage your congregation’s church account with Congregate. All access administrators can now:

    • See your current service plan, monthly service rate, and any premium features (text messages, voice messages, Virtual Library)
    • See your current data/storage usage (for sermons and uploaded media)
    • Review your monthly service fee payment status (and payment method) for the previous and future year
    • Directly update the main, billing, and technical points of contact on the account (names and email addresses)
    • Request to upgrade your account’s service plan, premium add-ons (text messages, voice messages, Virtual Library), and/or additional monthly text/voice messages.

Click “Account” on the upper-right of Congregate Admin to manage and view your account information.

Ensure you protect your church account by only having a limited number of trusted individuals with “all access administrator” level accounts! Click User Accounts in Congregate Admin to review all your user accounts and levels, and learn more about account types, levels, and permissions on our User Accounts support page.

Additional Spam Protection

Congregate has increased spam protection in contact forms. While we already use the industry-standard Google Captcha for spam prevention, sometimes spammers still find a way through and message you via your public “contact us” or “ask a question” forms. Some claim your website has been hacked, others ask for money, and some are even in other languages – all of which are spam and/or financial scams. We have added additional levels of protection – including banning messages with certain keywords – in an effort to reduce spam messages. Remember, as an alternative, you can always disable contact forms on your site and/or simply have visitors email you directly. You could also choose to embed third-party contact forms if you wish.

Version 6.4 Release Notes (Q4 2022)

NEW! Google Analytics 4 Support

As of July, 2023, Google will no longer support the legacy Google Analytics tracking code. Therefore, clients will need to login to their account Analytics account and obtain a new GA4 ID to continue tracking visitors after July, 2023. Congregate has already added support for the new GA4 ID and you can enter your new ID in the “Google Analytics” section on the General Settings page under Configuration in Congregate Admin. Learn more and obtain your GA4 ID at https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9304153

NEW! Unlimited Length Text Message Support

Now you can send text messages longer than 150 characters in length. While actual text messages are still 150 characters in length, Congregate will allow you to send longer messages by combining multiple message segments together as one. While the content of multiple messages may be combined on recipients’ devices (so it appears as one longer, single message) the actual number of segments used to send your content will be deducted from your monthly messages allowance. For example, if you pay for 2,000 messages per month, you can send 2,000 messages of up to 150 characters each. However, if you wanted to send a message that was between 151-300 characters in length, you would only be able to send 1,000 messages (because your content would require two 150 character message segments to send).

In addition to the content length, any specially encoded characters included will increase the number of message segments required to send (due to the added length of encoding the characters). Congregate has a built-in encoded character replacement tool that attempts to replace pasted content which may include specially encoded characters (e.g., the long dash “–” is a specially encoded character; Congregate will replace this with two normal dashes “–“). Note that this feature may not replace each and every specially encoded character, so while the length of your content may require a certain number of message segments to send, any and all non-replaced specially encoded characters will add an additional number of message segments to send.

Please pay close attention to the new message counter at the bottom of the text message content field to see how many message segments will be required to send your content – which is based on content length and any specially encoded characters.

Additional monthly message packages can be purchased and added to your account at any time via congregateonline.com/upgrade should you wish to increase the number of messages you can send.

Directory View Permission

Congregate uses account permissions to allow and/or limit user access. Now you can choose to hide the member directory from user accounts if you wish. You’ll find the new directory permission in Permission Groups under User Accounts inside the Church Membership section of Congregate Admin. Note: the Congregate Members app requires directory access; members cannot use the Congregate Members app without directory permission.

Google Maps API Key Requirement

Google Map-related modules now require you to register for a free Google API account in order to activate them. The Google API account allows you to fully use the Member Map and Visitor Map modules. Note: this does not affect embedded (iframe) Google Maps used on contact pages, for example. You can enter your Javascript API Key and Server API Key in the “Google Settings” section on the General Settings page under Configuration in Congregate Admin.

Learn more and obtain your keys at https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/javascript/get-api-key

Important: when configuring your API with Google, please leave any server/access restrictions blank as Congregate has multiple servers accessing the API and there is not one static IP address or domain name used to access the API.

Sender, Segment Count in Text/Voice Message Logs

The sender of text and/or voice messages is now included in your message logs, allowing you to see who sent text and/or voice messages through Congregate. (For security and privacy, message content is never saved or logged in Congregate.) The number of segments utilized to send text messages is also included next to each message.

Version 6.3 Release Notes (Q2 2022)

NEW! Visitor Tracker Public Entry

While you can manually add visitors/visitor information to the Visitor Tracker inside of Congregate Admin, the new public visitor entry module allows visitors to submit their own information directly on your website. Create a new page with custom content and your own, customized visitor data collection form. Visitors can access the page via a direct URL, a link on your site, or via a custom-generated QR code provided to you inside of Congregate Admin – perfect for print materials or projection. Customize the messaging after a successful submission and optionally be notified via email after each successful submission.

New Visitor Tracker Custom Fields

In addition to text-based custom fields, you can now create options-based custom fields that will appear as a dropdown menu on the public visitor entry page/visitor input in Congregate Admin. Custom fields can now be public (i.e., they will show on the public visitor entry page) or private and only visible in Congregate Admin.

Other Visitor Tracker Changes

The “Individual Male/Female or Family” field has now been retired. If you wish to collect a visitor’s gender or type (individual vs. family), please create and use custom fields to do so. Note: the first name field in the Visitor Tracker can support multiple first names in cases where visitors are couples or families (in addition to an individual).

Read the full Visitor Tracker documentation – which includes of all v6.3.1’s new features – visitor tracker documentation

NEW! Archive and Restore Pages

New to the page manager, you can now choose to archive pages instead of deleting them. This allows you to restore a page you may have removed by mistake or restore a page you wish to use at a later time. The default “delete” option has been replaced with “archive.” Only after a page has been archived can it then be permanently deleted or restored to your site.

Read the full Page Manager documentation – which includes of all v6.3.1’s new features – pages documentation

Version 6.2 Release Notes (Q1 2021)

Custom Default Automated Reminders

Now when you add a new user, his or her automated reminders for jobs, volunteer, and/or visitor assignments can be defaulted to “on.” The user can disable reminders in his or her account settings page (or an admin can disable them). Customize this new setting on the options pages under job assignments, volunteer assignments, and visitor assignments.

“Remember Me” Feature

Now when you log into Congregate Admin or your member website, choosing the “remember me” option will keep you logged in until you log out. (Remember to use the feature with caution and only on private computers/devices.)

Custom Congregate Members App Dashboard Image

With the introduction of the Congregate Members 2.0 app, you can now upload a custom image that will appear on members’ dashboards inside the app. If no custom image is uploaded under Configuration > Templates/Styles > Style Settings, the app will display your uploaded email/system logo by default.

Changes to Members App Permissions and Mobile Attendance

With the introduction of Congregate Members 2.0, there is no longer a need for enabling and/or disabling modules within the members app – if a member has permission to view and/or post to a module, that module will appear in the app. There are no longer separate settings for what modules will appear/not appear within the Congregate Members app.

Real-time/mobile attendance taking has been relocated to a /mobile directory on your website until it is fully integrated into Congregate Admin. Users can continue to access real-time/mobile attendance by visiting https://www.[your_website].com/mobile in their device’s web browser, logging in, and then selecting “Attendance.”

Version 6.1 Release Notes (Q4 2020)

Optional Login Requirement for Member Shared Files

Access to member shared files has always been password protected; the only way a member can view a listing of shared files is to login to his or her account to view the shared files module. The module includes the ability to direct-link to member files. This is used for transfers, embedding files, etc. Only users who know the exact URL of such files are able to access them; they are not indexed with search engines. In version 6.1, we’re offering another level of shared files protection with an option to force members to login to view any shared file, whether they have the direct link to the file or not. This means you cannot direct-link to member files and users who have the direct link to an uploaded file will be redirected and required to login before accessing it. Clients can choose what’s best for them and their usage of member shared files. You’ll find this new option under Online Media/Files > Shared Files > Options > “Require login to view protected files.”

Optional Church Branding Removal in Message Center

Messages sent from Congregate are sent with a church-branded template to ensure the recipient knows such messages are from your church/church website. This includes your church name and logo. User-sent messages from the message center also sent with the church-branded template. However, if you wish to have the template disabled from user-sent messages, a new option will allow you to disable the church-branded template on all messages sent through the message center. This will make them look like a “regular email” and will only include the content the user has sent (no template, no church name and logo). Clients can choose what’s best for them and their usage of the message center. You’ll find this new option under Configuration > General Settings > Default Email Settings > “Use church branding in message center.”

Version 6.0 Release Notes (Q1 2020)

    • Fresh branding including an all-new ‘Congregate’ (formerly ‘CongreGATE’) type mark and logo
    • Fully redesigned Congregate public website, packed full of detailed information on the platform and its features
    • All-new native iOS and Android app for administrators to access Congregate Admin (formerly known as the administration console) (Currently in BETA)
    • All-new native iOS and Android app for members – Congregate Members – with mobile-formatted modules and access your member-only content (Currently in BETA)
    • Restyled and reformatted automated emails for better readability
    • New Congregate support website with new written documentation, new tutorial videos, FAQs, and technical support ticketing system
    • New Congregate payment center website for clients to make and/or setup one-time or automated payments and update their information on-file

Administrators/Congregate Admin 

    • Interface
      • New branding/styling
      • Updated menus/feature/module names: Leadership CRM (formally known as Interaction Tracker); Shop One Stone (formally known as Biblical Resources); Weekly Recap Email (formally known as Weekly Summary Email); Daily Recap Email (formally known as Daily Summary Email); Text Messages (premium add-on; formally known as TruText); Voice Messages (premium add-on; formally known as TruVoice)
      • Church logo added to header bar for additional personalization
      • Direct access to webmail and email servers settings (for clients who utilize Congregate-hosted email)
      • Direct access to account data storage usage total and account upgrades and changes
      • Direct access to all-new support website (with documentation, videos, FAQ’s, quick start guides, technical support, etc.)
    • Templates/Styles
      • New template selector – change templates anytime at no cost
      • New color scheme selector – choose from several built-in color palettes for each template
      • Ability to add your own custom CSS to further stylize your website to meet your needs
      • Ability to upload your own favicon (i.e., favorites/bookmark icon)
    • Attendance
      • New duplicate option for per-member attendance records
    • Podcasts
      • New setting for custom podcast confirmation email address (for Apple, Google, Spotify, etc. verification)
      • Ability to have a unique podcast image per podcast feed (instead of one shared image for all feeds)
    • Job Assignments
      • New setting to limit members from being auto-assigned more than once per day (in addition to the per month option)
    • Page Manager
      • Ability to open redirected links/menu items in a new window/tab
      • Ability to enlarge the page editor field for easier editing
    • File Manager
      • Updated look and image editing capabilities allowing you to scale, crop, and rotate images
    • User Accounts
      • Ability to enable or disable member account registration/requests from your website
      • New permission group added to allow access to features’ “options” pages (formerly only admins had access)
      • New admin and non-member accounts now require an email address (for validation/recovery purposes)
    • Blog/News Posts, Recap Emails
      • Images/links to uploaded files appear/link within the email
      • HTML now supported for display of formatted posts in the email
    • Message Center
      • Improved delivery to certain providers whose anti-spam filters were blocking Congregate-sent emails
      • Newly formatted emails for nicer display
    • General Settings
      • Ability to add custom site-wide header content (for meta data, header or tracking codes, etc.)
      • Ability to use https:// (SSL) connection for your entire website (versus only member and admin pages)
    • Mobile App (search ‘Congregate Admin’ in your app store) (Currently in BETA)
      • New iOS and Android app for administrators released
      • Full access, mobile-formatted Congregate Admin console

Public/Public Website 

    • Change your public site’s appearance anytime with the template selector and built-in color schemes
    • Sermons: Larger and reformatted pop-up sermon audio player

Members/Member Website

    • Member-Only Pages
      • Login/Register: Ability to disable new member registration/request
    • Mobile App (search ‘Congregate Members’ in your app store) (Currently in BETA)
      • New iOS and Android app for administrators released (replacing web-based “CongreGATE Mobile”)
      • Mobile-formatted modules for members and administrators
      • Direct links to your public website and desktop members-only site
      • Dashboard: church logo and footer content added for additional personalization
      • Directory: member groups filter added

Recommendations for Existing Congregate Clients

Add Your Square Logo

If you have not already, upload a square version of your church logo (300x300px) to the “Square Logo” field inside Admin > Configuration > Templates/Styles > Style Settings > “Square Logo”. The square logo will be used in the header of Congregate Admin, on your Congregate Members app, and on automated emails/messages sent from the message center to further personalize and “brand” your content.

Setup Your Congregate Members App

If you wish to utilize our Congregate Members app, select the modules you wish to enable on your Congregate Members app inside Admin > Configuration > General Settings > “Members App”. After you’ve selected the modules you wish to use, you can inform members they can download the Congregate Members app from their app store onto their devices and to information from your site. Member permissions still apply, and members must have permission to view and/or edit any of the modules enabled for the app. Some modules are designed for data entry by members with permission (e.g., attendance, song tracker, etc).

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