Mobile Apps are all the rage in the digital space, but should you place all your eggs in the app basket? After all, an app’s value is only worthwhile if your congregation downloads and interacts with it. Here are a few ideas to focus on when launching a church mobile app:
First Comes The Website
In order to drive your congregation to using an app, first you need a functional church website that is already being utilized by your congregation. Assuming this is present, you’ll want to make sure this site has multimedia functionality before paying to create a mobile app or church giving app. Churches that already post to and regularly update their website will find it easier to spread word about their app. This makes perfect sense in that a website conditions your congregation to use tech and increases the likelihood they’ll turn to your app for important tasks such as child check-in.
Weekly Sermons & Other Content Must Haves
Including links to your weekly sermons online and within your app is a must do. Allowing your congregation the opportunity to replay your Sunday sermons anytime during the week is one of the primary benefits of having a church app. Some other content ideas to include:
- Prior sermons organized by title/subject including Easter, Christmas.
- Quick summaries of popular Bible passages.
- Discussions on contemporary issues around faith that interest your congregation.
- Prayer requests should also be included as they provide another direct link to your congregation’s needs.
- Sunday bulletin board that allows you to update board and communicate through app.
This is an idea that I’ve borrowed from a popular existing church app- Billy Graham’s Evangelical Association. This app allows you to listen to a new Billy Graham devotion each day and also encourages sharing other content such as classic sermons and older TV specials. The sharing functionality cannot be overstated here; social sharing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to grow your church and expand your ministry’s reach (not to mention the SEO benefit of sharing metrics). After all, word of mouth is still the most effective endorsement your ministry can have!
There are numerous reasons for including push notifications in your ministry app, but the primary benefit here are alerts. Basically, you can alert your membership about new website content, online giving and pledge drives, and even the current status of specific events (Has the afternoon picnic been rained out?). There is a balancing act here though as you want your congregation to feel connected without being irritated. A secondary benefit of push notifications are the valuable behavioral insights derived. Because these notifications track interaction times, open rates, and general engagement, you can gather lots of valuable information that can be utilized in your future events and promotions.
One final point to remember is that your church’s mobile app is an extension of your ministry and an entryway for your congregation. Developing sophisticated multifunctional apps are great but only if your congregation is willing to engage with them. Otherwise you’re better off investing your limited resources into other areas of your ministry.