Health and Growth

6 Reasons You Need a Church App Yesterday

The church app is no longer a novelty. It's the difference between churches that are engaged and growing, and those that won't be for much longer.

6 Reasons You Need a Church App Yesterday

Paul Maxwell

When churches say they want engagement, that means they want:

  • People showing up to events
  • Members showing interest in the sermon
  • Small groups building relationships with each other during weekly meetings
  • Volunteers overflowing at church outreach events

On the other hand, when people think about phone apps, they often think of the opposite:

  • People glaring at their phone with zombie-like stares
  • People oblivious to the real world, enraptured in a digital world
  • Distracting games and social media

That’s why it can be counterintuitive at first to think that a church app could build your church’s engagement.

Here’s the truth:

If your church lacks engagement, a church app is probably the very thing you need to spark meaningful buy-in from your congregation.

Let me explain:

With a custom church app, the usefulness of your members’ smartphones becomes an asset to member interaction rather than a hindrance.

Don’t believe it?

Check out these six ways that church apps increase your church’s connection as a community.

1. Your church app enables members to listen, watch, and take notes during sermons

Your church app lets you upload the video, audio, and interactive sermon note outline directly to your app.

This is really important for several reasons.

First, it means that those who missed church on Sunday don’t have to rummage around YouTube, their podcast app, or the church’s Facebook page to find the latest sermon.

They can simply open the app and navigate directly to the most recent sermon audio, video, and notes.

Second, this means that small groups can open the sermon in the app during small groups in order to share notes and play specific clips that were helpful.

In other words, your church app can become an engine of social discussion rather than a distraction.

Third, the fact that you can centralize your entire sermon history on the church app means that those who are new to your church can listen to your backlog of sermons in order to become familiar with the history, the tone of your church, and your preaching.

2. Your church app is a better community schedule

The in-app calendar is an extremely convenient feature of the app. Most churches struggle with getting the word out about what is going on at the church.

It’s true: they most likely have church events on their website.

But it’s not exactly convenient to navigate to the events on a website even if the website is mobile-friendly.

The calendar enables people to very easily view events, register, and add events to their personal calendars. This may seem basic, but it is significant for your church’s workflow because now, whenever someone asks about what is going on at church, it allows you to say “Have you checked the app?“

If you rely on your church bulletin and the weekly email to communicate the church’s schedule to your members, then your church communication strategy is from 1995.

Members shouldn’t have to wait for a weekly update or visit the church website to search for a specific event’s details like Indiana Jones looking for an ancient artifact.

With the church app, your entire calendar is clearly displayed and searchable on the app.

This means that all someone needs to do in order to discover the details of an event when it comes to mind is take out their phone, open the church app, and look at the calendar.

But the church app gets so much better:

Members can express interest in going to certain events by filling out registration forms and receive notifications about updates and needs for an event.

3. Your church app enables leaders to accommodate logistical hurdles in real time

Church leaders are able to update, reschedule, and modify events in real time as they need to change.

This means that when event details change (as they often do in church), leaders don’t have to send out a new “Hey, sorry!” email every single time and overwhelm the email inbox of their congregants.

No more people showing up to the wrong event because they didn’t get the memo.

More importantly:

No more reminding people constantly of event details.

When you have a church app, you can make this the refrain of your church for everyone who has questions:

“Have you checked the app?”

“Have you checked the app?”

“Did you look at the app?”

“It’s on the app.”

“Hey! Check the app.”

So many different ways to say the same beautiful thing:

“We have a church app so that I don’t have to be your walking secretary!”

Getting a church app liberates church leaders from needing to know all details on-hand in case they meet anyone who has a slight lapse of memory.

Stop using your brain’s ram as the computer for your church, and start using a church app.

4. Your church app will notify members more effectively

The church app has the capability of sending push notifications to users so that they don’t have to search through texts and emails to find event updates and details.

More than that, if you create a church informational culture based on the foundation of “Have you checked our app?” then the church app replaces hundreds of individual inconvenient processes with a single, unified, efficient, and centralized command center for your church’s administrative needs.

But it gets even better:

Event managers can send push notifications to attendees to update them on urgent or last-minute event details in real time.

Not only can users check the app … the app can check in on them.

5. Your church app will make event planning easier

With the church app, mistakes, misunderstandings, and miscommunications shrink from catastrophic errors to blips on the radar.

People will see Sunday morning that nobody has committed to bringing coffee for the coffee hour.

Members will ask Thursday night if someone can bring their teenager to a small group to babysit because their babysitter backed out last minute.

Congregants will see what volunteer needs haven’t been filled for VBS a week ahead of time so that you can draw their attention to it during the service and make a call to action: “Volunteer! We need your help!”

Could all of this be accomplished through text and email?

Yes, it could.

But then it clutters up your text and email.

When you host all of your event planning on your app, you exist as a unique element on your church’s phone without competition.

If you decide merely to use email and text, you become just another white line and blue dot in a pile of “unread” texts and emails.

Set yourself apart by centralizing church communications to a single app.

People will know to check it because you will be promoting them to check it.

Instead of people saying, “I didn’t check my email” and “I didn’t get your text,” you can proactively say, “Make sure to check your app before you come out!” But, again, with push notifications enabled, they won’t even need to do that much.

6.  Makes it easy for new visitors to connect

During the church service, you can make a simple appeal to visitors:

“Hey, new visitors! Download our app so that you can follow along with the service.

If you get a visitor to download the app to follow along, they now have it installed and some will have push notifications enabled. That means that you can engage with them throughout the week as well.

Over to you

Of course, it’s not enough to simply get an app.

There are plenty of church app myths you'll need to avoid.

A church app could easily be the shiny new church toy that’s left collecting dust before summer even starts.

You need to get people using the app.

The sermon notes are great for this.

The calendar is great for this.

When you use the app as your central hub for organizing the church’s calendar, it gives you a natural way to promote the app to your church every week.

You can then open every message with “You can follow along with today’s notes in our app and take personal notes in the app as well.”

That way, you are helping people to engage with the message in a way that is more relevant to the age group that most churches are targeting (I know that I prefer taking notes on my phone way more than writing in the margins of a bulletin), and it also lets you remind people that there is an app every single week.

Get church app and boost engagement in your church today.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.


6 Reasons You Need a Church App Yesterday