You’ve probably googled this or asked another ministry friend this question. Wouldn’t it be sweet to have your very own church phone app that all your people can download? Something that enables them to give, listen to a sermon, register for events, and more? Your people would love it!
I did a bunch of research on this topic, watched a slew of youtube videos like this one, and spoke to dozens of church leaders about this over the past year. Below are my findings.
But, before I dive into whether or not a church app is worth it for you, let’s talk about the “state of phone apps” in 2022.
Phone apps are hot. We’re seeing millions of more apps downloaded in 2022 than in 2021. Depending on what statistics you read, the average smartphone user has 80+ apps installed on their phone at this very moment. On top of that, the usage of the apps they have downloaded is going up as well. The under 45 crowd uses them like crazy! App usage is showing no signs of slowing down.
Despite having so many apps...roughly half of smartphone users spend most of their time on ONE single app. 97% of users spend their time on less than 10 apps total! Surprisingly, just over 50% of smartphone users don't download any new apps. This is especially true of the over 35 crowd. Many either don’t have the time or don’t see value in adding yet another app to the apps that already gather digital dust on their phone. (Google this stuff if you don’t believe me).
Let’s get down to the brass tacks and talk about what makes church apps awesome...and also what makes them the equivalent of lighting the weekly tithes and offerings on fire.
The majority of your people have smartphones. It’s easy to tell them to download a church app that gives them the ability to really connect with your ministry. Below are just a few reasons having an app can benefit a church:
There are a ton of other features that many church apps offer. At the end of the day, a church app makes you look super cool and gives the appearance that your church really has it together. The app is the place where you can tell all your people to go to be connected to the body and kept in the loop!
If your church is larger than 500 people with an average age of around 35, a church app may be worth looking into.
Just because most of your people have smartphones doesn’t mean a church app is actually worth having. Here’s the dark side of church apps that very few will talk about. Especially the companies that make church apps.
I think you get the gist. There are many more reasons why having an app isn't worthwhile for a church.
My church has its own app. It’s not a custom “made from scratch” app. It’s a pre-made app made from a template from one of the big church app providers. It gives me the ability to give, listen to or watch sermons, receive messages, and more! Here’s my personal experience:
When I click give in the app, it takes me to another giving website outside of the app. Annoying! This is because my church was already using another online donation platform that has better rates. Plus, the hassle of moving to another platform could be detrimental.
When I go to listen to the sermon, I find myself getting frustrated because it’s not as good as my iPhone’s native podcast app (which I use a lot). Because of this, I switch back to the podcast app on my phone where I’ve already subscribed to my church podcast. I asked a few of my friends how they listen to our church’s sermon, and they do the same thing!
My church used a push notification to let me know about the latest sermon being released. I was at work and just hit clear. Besides...I always re-listen on Mondays during my evening commute. The next day I got a push notification about a devotional. Again, I was at work and just hit clear. I already have a daily devotional I read and honestly don’t have time for another one.
I get other messages here and there about upcoming events and whatnot...but it gets buried below other push notifications that I ultimately just clear out anyways. I think I’ll probably just disable the push notifications soon...
A phone screen is too small to properly display the pdf guide for this week’s small group lesson. I keep pinching my screen to magnify text and it’s just cumbersome (coming from a millennial). I usually just hop on my computer and read it there.
I’ve spoken to coworkers and friends who’ve used these church apps at their churches, and they’ve all shared similar (and often comical) stories. Looks like I wasn’t alone after all!
Back in the day when phone apps came out, they could do things that a typical web browser couldn’t do. Web browsers had a certain set of rules to follow. Apps could make their own rules, limited only by your imagination.
HTML5 is the standard for web development, and it offers functionalities that make web apps/responsive sites almost indistinguishable from a native phone app. The two biggest differences are that a web app cannot send push notifications and it can't geofence.
The HUGE plus of having a responsive website/web app is that it can be accessed from literally any internet device. Many companies are opting for using great web apps/mobile responsive sites over a dedicated app for many of the reasons mentioned above.
Church Apps are like new luxury cars. They’re really cool, they’re super sleek, and they’ll turn lots of heads. Buying them makes you feel good and will make other pastors slightly jealous!
After a year though, that new car smell fades. The posh features no longer impress anyone. The maintenance costs begin to kick in and that small mortgage of a car payment starts getting old. You start to wonder to yourself...was it worth it? What else could I have spent that money on?
Church apps can be amazing platforms that offer online giving, event registrations, online forms, sermon podcasts & more! If you’ve got the money...why not?
For the rest of us that don’t have money trees, responsive websites and web apps are going to be the best option for 99% of the ministries out there. That way you can allocate those funds elsewhere to do more ministry.
Now you’re probably thinking to yourself..."this whole article is a joke!" It’s literally written by a guy who works at a Church Management Software company that’s just trying to sell me something. After all, why on earth would someone write a 2,053-word article that’s filled with popular search terms like “church app” or “church website”?
I’m not here asking you to “marry us” as your ChMS or your church website platform. I’m just asking you “not to marry them”. It kills me to see churches get taken advantage of by tech companies that just want to make a buck.
Welp...my typing fingers are toast and your attention span went away 2 minutes ago.
'Til next time 👋