The internet is growing at an insanely large pace, and mobile apps are becoming a big piece of that pie. Why? Because the web is being consumed differently than it was just 5 years ago. The web is quickly slipping out of the clutches of desktops and laptops and is slipping into our pockets with mobile devices. Wireless guru and T-Mobile CEO John Legere said something quite insightful in a recent interview; “All content is going to the internet, and all internet is going mobile.” In other words, people aren’t accessing content sitting at a desk in front of a monitor anymore. They’re riding the subway, sitting in the dentist waiting room, chilling out on the couch, etc. Chances are that you’re actually reading this blog on a smartphone. This phenomenon has driven everybody to make content for mobile devices, coining the phrase “there’s an app for that.” The question is, should your church get in on this booming trend?
There’s definite benefits to building an app just for your church. Your people can view upcoming events right on the app, just like a church bulletin (which also saves paper). You can even use push notifications to pop right up on the device, reminding your people of that prayer meeting or big mission’s emphasis coming up. Some church apps support other features like live streaming for those away or shut-ins, or mobile giving to make it easier for your people to tithe and give to the church. Sounds like a slam dunk, right? Well, not so fast. Here’s a couple of things to think about when considering adding a mobile app.
Do you already have an amazing website?
One common misconception people make is that if a church has a great mobile app, they don’t need a website. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why? It’s simple; no one goes to the app store to search for a new church in their area. They hit up Google, Bing or some other search engine to find out what’s near them. While there’s a lot of benefits to having a church mobile app, you must realize that virtually 0% of new visitors will end up in your pews through that avenue. The bottom line is that there’s no substitute for a professional, mobile-responsive, search engine optimized website that new visitors can easily find and navigate.
Will your people benefit from a mobile app?
In the wide wild world of technology, churches can suffer from a case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Designing a church app just to have a church app can be a severe detour of time and money. You need to ask the right questions of your church and your staff. Are the majority of your people tech users? Older generations or less technically interested demographics may never use this app. Do you have the infrastructure to use the app to it’s max potential? Making sure you have people in place to feed the content and keep it engaging is key.
Do you have the budget for a mobile app?
Building a mobile app (and building it well) is a whole different world than building a website. If you want a quality turnkey mobile app solution (with no coding or developer knowledge required) it can cost you thousands of dollars. Cheaper solutions like generic services retrofitted into a church module might not be worth the time, money and effort. This all brings us back to question #1: if you need a new website and want a mobile app, but only have money to do one of them well, invest in the website first.