Want a Church App? Think Twice.

There are two kinds of churches: ones who hate change and those that want all the latest gadgets. We need to create churches with a balance. Churches should establish the best communication tools and stick with them until something truly better comes along.

Mobile devices have taken over. We use them for email, shopping, browsing, texting, taking pictures, and playing games. We’ve adopted them. Pew Research (2014) says that 64% of American adults own a smartphone, 32% own an e-reader, 42% own a tablet.

iPhone users download an average of 88 apps (mobile programs) according to Statistic Brain Research.

So every church should develop a church app now! No. Think twice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love new church communication tools. I’m an early adopter for most technology. But most churches have substantial communication issues, and an app won’t solve them. It’ll just waste your money.

I know I’m not making friends. Please note: I agree that for some churches, it’s a good idea. But before you spend a dime on app development, consider these 4 things:

  1. Ensure your website is responsive first. Most church communication should revolve around your website. It should be simple to navigate, up-to-date, accurate, and work as good on a small screen as it does on a large screen. A responsive website does that seamlessly. You should have a firm plan to assure your website is incredible. It’s not? Don’t create an app. It won’t solve anything. It’ll simply add another tool that won’t work well in a few months.
  2. Most apps are rarely used. We love to download them; especially free ones! About half of us have NEVER paid more than $1 for an app. If you build one, it’ll cost you many dollars over its life. Sadly, 1 in 5 apps are only used once, and 80% of our apps are rarely used. I hate to break it to you, but your church app will probably fall into that category. Since 20% of our app time is on a browser, having a responsive website seems to be a better option.
  3. A good website does a great job. Yes, apps have push notifications and are better than websites for annoying people. But keeping one platform (web) up-to-date and accessible everywhere (desktop, table and mobile) is a much better option since more turn to a browser before thinking of an app (except for social media). Most church apps have calendars, bibles, videos, photos, and outlines — all can be done on a good website. And you won’t have to train anyone to browse to your website.
  4. Consider what your congregation wants and not what you do. Yes, it’s fun to have an app and you’ll look incredibly cool saying you developed an app. In fact, the app companies will call you blessed. But statistically, your congregation just wants the information, and they should go to your website for it. So why train them to do something different?

Just my opinion. If you chose to not follow it, and you eagerly want to pursue the money to develop an app, make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve. Set goals and freely cut the app from your mix if you don’t reach them.

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