There’s no arguing that apps are all the rage today. Whether or not to have a church app is a common conversation we have with pastors and churches. Here are a few questionsto ask yourself and some insightsto consider as you determine if a church app is right for you. Finally, some action stepsyou can take now as you consider your next step.
- What are at least two reasons we need an app?
If one of them is;
Because Life.Church and Elevation have one.
I want us to appear in the App Store.
I suggest we keep asking this question.
Some good reasons may be;
–Our website traffic is up due to growth and an app is the next logical step.
–We are producing a good amount of content like videos, writings and events that people need a better way of accessing that content.
–We have more than 50% online giving and we can leverage those givers to access other content…
Then I think we’re getting somewhere.
- Are we already pushing other digital ways to connect from the stage every week?
Why is this important? Well, if you haven’t already been encouraging people to connect to things like online giving, signing up online for an event, Facebook or YouTube as often as you can, then suddenly presenting an app in the app store isn’t going to make people instant digital consumers. The idea behind having an app is to help streamline what they’re already doing.
- Do we have the extra time and funds to sustain a app?
I’m guessing you don’t have 8 people on your tech/IT team to maintain the content on an app, however, you may have a young person in your church that has the understanding and skill and would love the opportunity to serve. Setting up a app could take 10-20 hours staring at a computer screen and testing on your mobile device over and over. Then plan to give at least 2 hours a week to keeping that content up to date.
Custom apps are expensive, but subscription apps are not. They both may have an initial startup fee of several hundred dollars and a nominal monthly fee. So be sure to budget accordingly.
- More that 5 billion people have smartphones.
- 49% of smart phone users download on average 0 (zero) apps per month. *
- 50% of time spent on a smart phone is spent in an app. *
- Less that 30% of users allow push notifications from their apps. *
- The top used apps are Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YouTube & Google Maps. *+
- The highest app users by age are 18 to 24 year olds. 65+ are the lowest. *
- Pros and Cons of an App vs. a Mobile Friendly web site:
+This alone tells me where a ministry team needs to be putting its focus.
*From the 2016 US Mobile App Report www.comscore.com
- Most churches we work with have a web site. If you don’t, well, you should. Squarespace, Wix and WordPress all have easy to build and maintain sites ready to go, at a low cost. If you need help let us know.
- If you already have a site it’s a must that it be mobile friendly or “responsive.” Meaning it adjusts according to the device it is being viewed on. More that 50% of web browsing is done on a mobile device.
- Start utilizing platforms that are available to your church for free. Facebook, YouTube, Messenger etc. Don’t use social media for just announcing things, purposefully engage people, create conversation. You can stream your services live on Facebook and YouTube for free with a smart phone.
You don’t have to post the entire service; 2 minutes is about the norm for video attention span on the web. Maybe a 2 minute Monday sermon highlight reel to post on Facebook and link to the entire message on YouTube.
- If you’re putting your messages on the web leverage online giving. Many people can engage with your church through the message of Christ and giving without ever stepping foot in your building.
There are many things to consider when looking at the app option. Age demographics of your church, current digital engagement, the amount of content your church is generating and time and money you’re willing to invest. I find that many churches that have apps do not have metrics to qualify an ROI on their app. Don’t implement something if you’re not going to measure it. If online giving is the only metric you can measure for app usage, then perhaps a great mobile giving experience on your church website is all you need.
If you have 1000+ attendance and the median age of your attendees is 45 or less, then you may be behind the ball, perhaps an app should be on the table.
A large church that has a self-built app with over 100,000 downloads told me that the 2 top things their app is used for is giving and video watching.
Apps are like SUV’s… Lots of people want one, (I agree, they are cool and fun.) but do we really need one? Maybe you do. Is it worth the extra hassle and expense? Hopefully what was covered here will help you decide.