If you think your church is ready to launch a mobile app, or redesign its exiting app, you’re not alone. Many church and gospel-centric ministries are beginning to recognize the value of what we like to call it the sticky and ubiquitous mobile app, which occupies as much as 2 hours of a typical smartphone user’s day.
A previous post made the point that the primary questions a ministry leader should ask when preparing a mobile app are: what content the app should contain; how and on what mobile platform to deliver it; and finding a quality mobile app developer that is attuned to your ultimate mission to spread the gospel. In this post, we get a little more detailed.
So, without further ado, here are nine content options and features to consider for your mobile app:
- Sermon Podcasts or Vodcasts. Again, it primarily about content. And if you’re a typical gospel-centred church or ministry, generating content is what you do. You tend to call it sermons, or weekend church school lessons, or Wednesday night prayer meeting. Assuming your church records this content, the ideal way a smartphone user can access them is through your mobile app. For those who want to consume the content while driving, or jogging, give them a podcast (audio) option; if they’re taking the bus or an airplane, direct them to the vodcast (video) vault.
- Text Files of Sermons and Bible Study Lessons. Some people are old fashioned. And practical. If they can read a sermon, or a devotional, or the Bible lesson, they’ll do so. If you have such content electronically, preferably as PDF or HTML files, provide links to them in your mobile app.
- Multimedia Gallery. Create a gallery of photos from the church picnic or of video clips from an evangelistic series. It’s an easy ways for church members and users of your mobile app to experience your church’s culture on the go.
- Prayer Wall. Even the unchurched tend to turn to church when they’re standing in the need of prayer. If strangers happen to find your mobile app, make sure there’s a place–a Prayer Wall–for them to post a prayer request. Your members, too, will benefit from your Prayer Wall.
- Financial Donations. A 2012 survey in Christianity Today found that more and more church members are bypassing the offering plate and are giving their their tithes,offerings, and donations electronically, including through cell phone applications. The benefit of so-called e-giving is that anyone can do it, anywhere, and people tend to give more consistently, AND spontaneously through electronic methods. Your mobile app can prominently feature a direct link to your e-giving platform; read this post for help on choosing an e-giving platform.
- Directions and Contact Information. Make sure potential visitors never get lost trying to find their way to your physical location. Your mobile app can include: your address, which, when clicked, can open a navigation app; your phone number, which, when clicked, will ring your church office; and your church email, which, when clicked, will deliver an electronic message
- Links to Social Media Platforms. Want an easy way to increase eyeballs for your Facebook Pages and Twitter feeds (or Pinterest; Tumblr; Google+; or whatever else)? Insert links to them in your mobile app. So while your app user is listening to a downloaded sermon, he or she can “socialize” in your virtual church lobby.
- Event Marketing Campaigns. You’re planning an evangelistic crusade, or the concert of a well-known artist, but the details of the event keep getting updated. Don’t wait before everything is finalized; start your marketing campaign as soon as reasonably can, but be sure to “push” or send updates directly to your app user’s smartphone notifications feed.
- Live streaming. These days, mobile bandwidth is much improved, allowing users to watch live events in real time. That’s good news for your church, because it allows those who can’t make it to church for whatever reason to still “be there.” They can open up the live even right in your mobile app.
What are some other ways you want to use mobile apps in your ministry?