If you’re over the age of 30, you probably remember when an “app” meant playing Snake on your Nokia brick phone.
Oh, how things have changed.
Today, using an app can mean just about anything–from chatting with a friend in a different country, to paying a bill, to tracking a run, to connecting with the Body of Christ.
Mobile apps have become a ubiquitous part of life in the 21st century. In fact, over one-fifth of all Millennials use an app 50+ times a day, and nearly half of all people use an app 11+ times a day.
Apps have become the norm for communication, engagement, and information. They are convenient, accessible, easy to use, and typically free. But most importantly, apps make people feel connected to others, to their favorite brands, and even to their churches.
Apps & the Church
Simply put, an app–or application–is a software program that’s designed for use on a smartphone or tablet.
While many of us associate apps with social media, they’ve now become synonymous with brands and companies. That’s because any organization can build an app as a single, streamlined touchpoint with customers or members.
In theory, an app can do just about anything. It can give information, display content, provide a way to purchase something or donate, or create a new way to track data.
Apps are nearly limitless in their application. In other words, they don’t have to be devoted to shopping, playing games, or personal development. Apps can also be used for the Kingdom of God–for connecting with believers, offering new ways to learn and grow, and for providing ways to give.
9 Ways to Engage Church Members with an App
An app won’t substitute face-to-face connection with church members, but it can provide an easy way for them to stay engaged throughout the week, and even create a deeper level of relationship with the church and with each other.
Here are nine specific ways that members can connect with their church communities through an app.
#1: Listen to sermons.
Teaching is one of the pillars of a church community. When believers receive Biblical teaching on how to live like Christ, pursue holiness, and advance the Kingdom of God, they can learn and grow together. Teaching is often what unites a community and creates common ground. It’s also what brings church members back to Truth in times of chaos and uncertainty.
All that being said, it’s not always possible to attend Sunday services. More than ever, church members may have any number of reasons for staying home or being unable to attend. But that doesn’t mean they should go without being fed.
Using an app, church members can listen to weekly sermons and access notes anywhere, anytime. This isn’t limited to Sunday sermons. Churches can also offer podcast content and additional teaching through an app.
In other words, an app isn’t just a sub for Sunday service. In fact, it shouldn’t be. When used well, apps can become powerful supplements for church members to dive deep into growth with Christ.
Traditionally, tithing and giving have been limited to writing a check or dropping cash into a basket on Sunday mornings. While there’s nothing wrong with that, things have changed when it comes to finances and giving.
Over 64% of the U.S. population uses digital banking. In 2019, mobile finance apps (or so-called fintech apps) were used over 1 trillion times by users around the world.
More and more, people are using their mobile phones to pay bills, check their balances, withdraw cash, and pay for goods and services. In other words, consumers are becoming accustomed to using their phones for their finances.
By keeping up with this trend, the church can a) make it more convenient for church members to tithe and give, and b) make it easier to receive and manage financial giving.
While churches can use their website or an option like PushPay to receive, including a giving option on an app makes tithing and giving easier for users. An app-driven giving option also makes finances more efficient to manage for church staff, by bringing giving under a single umbrella with everything else.
#3: Engage new members.
Many churches know the challenge of engaging new members or visitors. People may come and leave on a Sunday morning without ever getting connected or plugged into the community. As a result, they may eventually leave the church or stay on the periphery without ever diving into growth and relationship.
A church app can help new members and visitors feel quickly connected and engaged with your church. An app helps users access important information about service times and events. It also offers a comprehensive view of what a church is all about–helping newcomers to explore and learn in a non-intimidating way.
#4: Create new avenues for prayer.
How do you get your church community to grow in a more active prayer life?
Delivering a sermon or holding prayer meetings are powerful tools for equipping members to pray. They teach believers the power of prayer, and give them a way to learn and intercede corporately.
But a third–maybe overlooked–way to encourage prayer is to use an app to help users post and respond to prayer requests.
A digital “prayer wall” in your app can help users:
- Ask for prayer from others…
- Feel supported by community outside of Sunday morning services or small groups….
- Pray strategically and specifically for the needs of others….
- And build a community and culture of prayer.
Finally, using an app for prayer helps equip younger generations to pray. Gen Z-ers, for example, spend 10% more time in non-gaming apps than older generations. And on average, Millennials spend 211 minutes–over 3 hours–every day using apps or the internet on their mobile phones. In other words, using an app is a strategic, practical way to encourage younger generations to pray.
#5: Encourage Bible reading.
Reading the Bible is a core part of walking with Christ. And frequency certainly matters. In fact, the Center for Bible Engagement reports that reading the Bible 4+ times a week makes a noticeable difference in the life of a believer. On the other hand, Christians who don’t regularly digest Scripture might eerily resemble people who don’t follow Jesus at all.
That being the case, having a “mobile Bible” can be a practical way to incorporate more Scripture into daily life. Many Christians now use a Bible reading app to follow along during church sermons, to quickly reference Scripture, and even to read during their daily devotional time.
While there’s nothing quite like opening the worn pages of a paper Bible off the bookshelf,, a Bible integrated app can be a helpful tool for accessing the Word of God. You can offer Scripture reading on your church app so that once again, users can access everything they need on a single streamlined platform.
#6: Spread awareness about events.
Most churches host more than just Sunday morning service. Prayer meetings, youth and young adult services, Bible studies, worship services, Bible classes, workshops, and conferences can run throughout the weeks and months at a church.
These events represent wonderful opportunities for members to meet with God, fellowship, and grow. They also represent additional needs for administration and communication. No one knows this better than the church communications department, which carries the constant burden of effectively communicating dates and times of various events to members.
Using a church app to communicate event details can remove a heavy burden of communication, and can help members discover and learn about various events. It can also be a great way to communicate specific details about the event, offer online registration, and send push notifications with details.
Ultimately, using a church app for event awareness can help increase attendance and help grow a more thriving, engaged community.
#7: Grow social media presence.
Like it or not, social media has a powerful impact. Worldwide, the average person spends 145 minutes every day on social media–and your church members are likely no exception.
Of course, we don’t have to be the first ones to tell you that what your members consume and engage with has a potent effect on the way they think, what they believe, and how they behave.
While churches may have different convictions about Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, you can use social media as a positive influence to encourage and edify your church through Biblically-sound, God-glorifying content.
An app can a) display your social media content, b) spread awareness about your social media accounts, and c) engage users with Scripture, teaching, event details, and encouragements.
#8: Send push notifications and message members.
In 2019, the average smartphone user in the U.S. received 46 push notifications a day. Your church community, of course, is no exception to this stat. It’s likely that members of your church receive notifications throughout the day from their social media accounts, email inboxes, news apps, and more.
Push notifications don’t always have to be a distraction, however. Sent from a church app, they can be an encouraging boost. With an app, you can send your own customized push notifications to users, with details about upcoming events or encouragements and prayer requests.
Likewise, you can directly message users through your app, helping them feel connected and cared for throughout the week.
#9: Create profiles for users.
Finally, a church app can help you create a personalized online experience for church members.
Now, more than ever, users expect to be able to create their own accounts and profiles on online platforms. Church should be no different. Profiles on a church app can give users the ability to see their giving history and other important details. Not only that, but profiles create an easy way for them to feel known and recognized.
App profiles are also useful for church admin to manage and organize information about church members.
Apps: Not Just for Big Churches
Here’s the good news: mobile apps aren’t just for big churches.
No matter how small your church is, you can build an app to engage your community...no in-house web developer, software engineer, or massive budget necessary.
With a low build and monthly maintenance fee, Tithe.ly can help you create a customized church app that allows you to do all of the above and more, with:
- A sermon, media, and podcast player integrated with your app, to provide weekly sermons and additional teaching and content. Users can access this content on the go and share it with friends, family, and fellow church members via text, email, or social media.
- Interactive sermon notes that allow users to interact with teaching, add their own notes, and share specific sermons to social media accounts.
- A digital bulletin and events calendar to keep church members informed about upcoming events, with details about dates, times, and locations (map functionality included).
- Push notifications and a dedicated in-app inbox can help you connect with users, alert them to upcoming events, and send helpful, encouraging reminders.
- One-tap mobile giving allows users to conveniently give on their mobile phones. Incidentally, mobile giving with Tithe.ly actually increases giving.
- A prayer wall and in-app Bible encourage your church members to pray for one another and dive into the Word on-the-go.
- Social media integration means that your app can integrate with Facebook and Twitter (Instagram coming soon!), so that users can discover and be encouraged by your social media accounts.
- Personalized user profiles will help app users feel connected and engaged, with personal details and giving histories.
- And more...including photo and video sharing, integration with your blog, and even a specialized “church newsfeed” to let users know what’s going on in your community.
At Tithe.ly, we’ll work with you personally to build an app that your church will absolutely love. The result? A community that flourishes both in person and at a distance, and knows how to harness technology to build each other up and advance the Kingdom of God.