Giving your church a church app can sometimes feel like putting a 16-year-old who doesn’t know how to drive in a paddle shift transmission Lamborghini.
When you don’t know how to use something, it’s hard to appreciate all of its features.
This is especially true for a church app.
On the one hand, there is no single piece of tech that is easier to waste by letting it gather dust as a fancy website alternative than the church app.
On the other hand, there is no single piece of tech that could more powerfully boost your church engagement than the church app when used correctly.
At the root of much church app misuse are myths about what they are, how they work, and whether churches should get them. Once you debunk these myths, your pathway to using your church app to engage your church drastically increases.
So, let’s get right down to busting myths so that you can get back to growing your church and boosting engagement among your members.
Here are seven church app myths that you need to stop believing today for the sake of your church.
1. People don’t engage over church apps
People do engage over church apps.
But many church apps don’t foster engagement, not because members don’t want to use them, but because church leadership doesn’t actually use them.
For example, there are several features ina church app built for you by Tithe.ly Church App, that boost engagement instinctively. Here are a few features that come with every Tithe.ly Church App:
A Church App Calendar
This helps everybody to get on the same page about key events. With this calendar feature, the church app becomes the “command central” of the questions “When?” and “Where?” for every event in your church.
A Church App Event Registration
This feature allows people to sign up for scheduled events through the app rather than routing them through a pen-and-paper or alternate website solution, which means that if people want to belong somewhere, they should be directed to the app.
This feature makes it normal for people to be “on” their phones during service, taking notes in a specific part of the app that exports a beautiful PDF to your email that you can use to discuss during small group later in the week.
A Sermon Archive (downloadable audio and video)
This feature makes it possible for people to watch the week’s sermons right in the app.
These tools will help your church, small groups, volunteer groups, and event-specific groups stay informed about the latest information relevant to their efforts.
An Aggregated Newsfeed
This feature brings all church-related news into a single spot—including social media, latest sermons, and typical church bulletin information relevant to your church members.
A Church Tithing Feature
Make it easy for people to set up recurring donations from any card or bank account through their member account on the church app, which means they can manage tithing entirely through the app.
It’s clear with these features that whether people find it helpful or not comes more down to whether the church leadership prompts a culture that values the app by investing in it and using it, or whether they treat it as a throwaway luxury that is dispensable and irrelevant.
If church leadership treats the church app as central, relevant, and purposeful, the church members will use the church app centrally, relevantly, and purposefully.
2. People don’t want a church app
People don’t know what they don’t want.
In 2006, it would have been easy to say to Steve Jobs: “People don’t want their phone to have screen buttons.” Lo and behold, the iPhone was the single most revolutionary invention since the Internet itself.
If your church app is just about the vanity and luxury of having cutting edge technology in your church, then it’s true—people don’t want it and they don’t care about it.
But technology never exists for its own sake.
People don’t just want tech.
People want connection.
People want engagement.
People want convenience.
People want to be “in the know.”
People want to be prepared, registered, belonging, ready for whatever their church has going on.
Your church app makes it easy to do this.
Stop cluttering your church welcome speech with announcements and tell your congregation:
“For all information about what’s happening, our church calendar is right in the church app. Check it out to see what we’ve got going on this week and what to register for!”
You could even include a “Weekly Events” video or email in the app to tell people important information for the coming week.
Relying on email alone for this forces people to rummage through their email for crucial church information.
Whatever your method, using your app as the command central for information is the most convenient method for informing people in your church about what’s going on, when it’s happening, how to be involved, and what to bring.
An app gives engagement, clarity, convenience, and tight-knit community.
People want that.
But you as a church leader must use it correctly.
3. Church apps don’t add value to your church
Church apps add value to your church because they give multiple operations within your church that cost a lot of time, energy, and money a single, streamlined solution.
The church app gives back your church leadership—and your church members.
- Time (through convenience)
- Focus (through removing distraction)
- Money (through facilitating tithes)
Know what else?
Your church app makes information access, event registration, financial giving, and event scheduling all accessible and executable through the app.
4. Church apps are a money pit
It’s very possible to waste thousands of dollars on a church app.
Or, you could spend $50 per month to have an app that’s fully supported and updated by our own team of engineers at Tithe.ly, who have already successfully created church apps for thousands of churches.
If you let your DIY instincts take over how you approach your church app, you could end up wasting money—and much of your time—on building something that’s less functional and less affordable than your church realistically needs.
With the Tithe.ly Church App, your church gets the value and usefulness it really needs for less than half your church’s coffee budget.
And with the money your church gets from transferring recurring giving to your church app, you’ll be able to upgrade your coffee to the special third-wave stuff.
The point is this:
Every myth is a half-truth.
The truth in “Church apps are a money pit” is this:
Church apps can be a money pit.
The best idea in the world can be a money pit if it’s executed poorly and leaders fail to delegate the right tasks to the right people.
At Tithe.ly, you can get a megachurch app WITHOUT spending megabucks. Our team will have you up and running in no time for an unbelievably affordable rate.
5. Volunteers won’t actually use your church app
Whether or not people use your church app is far more a matter of how your leadership uses your app than how your members use it.
Members will follow suit of the leadership.
If your church’s leadership uses your app to schedule, communicate, process donations, check-in, make announcements, and issue important statements, people will use it.
People want to be engaged.
People want to be informed.
All transition comes at the cost of a learning curve.
Every learning curve is a little painful.
Eventually, people will willingly go through the uncomfortable learning season to ensure that they’re on the same page with everyone else in the church.
Getting your volunteers to use the app goes a long way in setting the tone for church’s relationship to your app.
One way to get volunteers to use the app is to have the church’s executive team host a “Volunteer Only” BBQ or party to launch the app.
Before you get to the food, have a 15-minute sit-down where the senior pastor has everyone take out their phones, download their apps, turn on push notifications, and start using the calendar and events portion for scheduling.
It might even be helpful to break volunteers up into teams and have team-leads get their particular team oriented for five minutes on how exactly their team will be using the app.
After that, members will inevitably start using your app once the church leadership and volunteers continually reference information contained in the app.
6. A church app makes visitors feel left out
A church app is a perfect opportunity to invite new visitors in, rather than make them feel left out.
The pastor can make a 15-second pitch on stage to the tune of:
“If you’re new, please download our church app here [...] and indicate on the home screen that you’re a new visitor. It’ll help us connect with you after the service and get plugged in!”
Did you catch that?
With a church app, you can have visitors willingly and eagerly on-board themselves.
Then you have their contact information, address, referral information, and reason for visiting—and whatever fields you want to include to gather information from your visitors.
Use your church app as a way to invite people into your church, and afterward, they’ll have your app on your phone as a reminder of what a great experience they had at your church!
Subsequently, you can send them push notifications to remind them to come back to church, invite them to small group, or get them plugged in through another avenue.
The point is—when the visitor has the app, they will feel like they are part of the church, and therefore feel more “in” than if they had nothing.
7. A church app detracts from person-to-person engagement
People think that because people are distracted by their phones, a smartphone app will further detract from personal engagement.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Your church app facilitates engagement, allows people to schedule get-togethers, expedites and smooths communication, and makes it easier for people to engage with one another than ever before.
The point of the app is not to be the place of engagement, but to be a tool which better administrates and fosters engagement.
Riddle me this:
Who is more likely to actually hang out—a group of friends in a group text saying “Anyone free tonight?” or a scheduled church app calendar event with RSVP, push-notifications, and email reminder integration?
You’re right—it’s the church app.
The church app cultivates engagement—it doesn’t destroy it.
Don’t let this myth get in the way of growing engagement in your church.
Over to you
The best thing you can do for your church engagement is to get a church app like the kind Tithe.ly Church App can provide.
Wherever you get it, realize that in the 21st century, the number of churches that don’t have a church app will be less and less.
The only question is whether you’re going to be a late adopter in five years when every church has an app, or whether you’re going to be ahead of the curve and use technology proactively with the skill to grow engagement and boost church growth.
Which of those two paths do you want for your church?
Get a church app today and use it the right way to create a culture of organized engagement in your church.