We just can’t say it enough: having a comprehensive, relationship-building, digital strategy hugely increases your ministry’s ability to effectively communicate Christ’s message. A large part of that strategy is smartphone apps.
You may be wondering what all the fuss is about. You may point out that technology has long been a part of the church service … and you would be totally right.
Perhaps the key difference is that older technology (such as an overhead projector or microphone) ENHANCED the non-technological communication. Today’s digital culture often REPLACES it. So, for many millennials and younger audiences, their digital devices ARE OFTEN their primary communication tools, with ‘live people’ coming second.
Communication on digital devices is usually via ‘apps’: applications – software programs that are designed to perform specific functions.
Why does your church need to incorporate smartphone apps into your digital strategy? Here are our top three reasons.
1. Most of the millennials and Gen Z’ers in your ministry can be considered ‘digital natives’ – people for whom the Internet and digital communication is a way of life. They are used to having diverse information available all in one place, ‘as needed’ at their fingertips via phone apps. This ‘wide variety of instant info’ has conditioned them to have shorter attention spans. So, they are not used to waiting an hour for God’s good word. They would prefer Googling “God, good word” and reading it now.
2. More than ever, churches today strive to be good shepherds of God’s resources. We need to use our budgets of
- time – ours and our volunteers
- money – most tithes come from hard-working church members
- goodwill – people are usually happy to help but there’s a limit
in efficient and effective ways, showing our care and accountability of these precious gifts.
3. Much of today’s communication is distant (not face-to-face) but it’s still all about the relationships. A recent study looked at U.S. church attendance. It found that 58% of churches have fewer than 100 people attending their sermons. Only 10 years ago, the number of churches in that category was 48% – that’s an increase of 1% a year. This adds a challenge to building your ministry – getting in touch with people who are not there. And what about the community who is not church-affiliated? This has always been a goal but today, churches realize that bridge-building with these groups is more important than ever.
Those are some demanding points. Can smartphone apps deliver solutions?
Phone apps put your church at their fingertips exactly as needed.
Good ‘off the shelf’ phone apps have customization built-in. So, your church can tweak your app to serve your needs such as prayer request forms, surveys to find out what’s on your parishioners’ minds, online tithing, and downloadable content (spiritual such as sermons and informational such as the schedule of upcoming events). Phone apps which have been specifically designed and developed for churches will suit your needs better than those which weren’t. One example of such an app is Pastorsline. (link)
Phone apps are relatively cheap.
Cost-benefit analyses of apps show that there is no question: these apps more than justify their prices. Good phone apps are excellent values and can often save your church money because they provide a single solution that consolidates many functions. Also, since your church is not the only app user, the design and development costs of the app are spread over its customers. This means your church does not have a big outlay of funds. Yet, your church app is YOU, since you have customized it for your ministry.
Phone apps can help build strong relationships.
The right phone apps facilitate real, two-way, human communication. Your church members and guests feel that there is an actual person on the other end of that phone; someone who is truly interested in their thoughts, feelings, and needs.
Good phone apps can bridge the divide between your ministry and non-attendees (whether lapsed members or those in the community who don’t yet know you) because phone communication is ‘non’ in the best ways – non-threatening, non-demanding, non-invasive.
The right phone apps can make your church a 24/7 experience for your members. They won’t only ‘connect’ on the Sabbath or during a specific workshop or event. Now, there can be communication from either side whenever and wherever. Got a smartphone? You’ve got the ability to communicate! That’s a powerful thing.
You’d like to hear some success stories, right?
Happy to oblige!
Houston Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Houston, Texas.
Houston Central realized that their digital presence (a website + some social media) was mostly being used to convey information and not to connect with people online. They were resistant to change because they saw themselves as a traditional ministry with face-to-face evangelism their main priority.
As the result of a lengthy re-education process (almost 3 years), a new digital strategy, which revolved highly around phone apps, was born. Two weeks after the launch, they saw 5 new online visitors who did a Google search all walk through the door in 1 week. And the effect continues…
The information shows that smartphones ARE a highly significant digital connectivity device, not ‘emerging’, not ‘in the future’, NOW. Here are some current U.S. stats:
- Adults spend 5.6 hours on digital devices – 2.8 hours on smartphones and 2.4 on laptops/desktops.
- Of all Internet users, 80% own a smartphone.
- When on their smartphones, users spend 90% of that time on different apps.
This means your ministry needs to be on their smartphones … using your resources wisely to be at their fingertips; building solid, human relationships; round the clock. Smartphones apps are a powerful way to do just that.
SEE ALSO: The Human Side of Mobile Apps!