By Jason Alexis
We just can’t say it enough…having a comprehensive, relationship-building, digital strategy hugely increases your ministry’s ability to effectively communicate Christ’s message. A large part of that strategy is smartphone apps.
You may be wondering what all the fuss is about. You may point out that technology has long been a part of the church service…and you would be totally right.
Perhaps the key difference is that older technology (such as an overhead projector or microphone) ENHANCED the non-technological communication. Today’s digital culture often REPLACES it.
So, for many millennials and younger audiences, their digital devices are often their primary communication tools, with “live people” coming second.
Communication on digital devices is usually via applications (apps), software programs that are designed to perform specific functions.
Why does your church need to incorporate smartphone apps into your digital strategy? Here are our top three reasons.
1. Most of the millennials and Gen Z’ers in your ministry can be considered digital natives – people for whom the Internet and digital communication is a way of life.
They are used to having diverse information available all in one place, as needed at their fingertips via phone apps. This wide variety of instant information has conditioned them to have shorter attention spans. So, they are not used to waiting an hour for God’s good word. They would prefer Googling “God, good word” and reading it now.
2. More than ever, churches today strive to be good shepherds of God’s resources.
We need to use our budgets of the following in efficient and effective ways, showing our care and accountability of these precious gifts:
- Time – ours and our volunteers
- Money – most tithes come from hard-working church members
- Goodwill – people are usually happy to help but there’s a limit
3. Much of today’s communication is distant (not face-to-face) but it’s still all about the relationships.
A recent study looked at U.S. church attendance. It found that 58 percent of churches have fewer than 100 people attending their sermons. Only 10 years ago, the number of churches in that category was 48 percent – that’s an increase of 1 percent a year.
This adds a challenge to building your ministry – getting in touch with people who are not there. And what about the community who is not church-affiliated? This has always been a goal, but today, churches realize that bridge-building with these groups is more important than ever.
Those are some demanding points. Can smartphone apps deliver solutions? Absolutely!
Phone apps put your church at their fingertips exactly as needed.
Good, off-the-shelf phone apps have customization built-in. So, your church can tweak your app to serve your needs, such as prayer request forms, surveys to find out what’s on your parishioners’ minds, online tithing, and downloadable content (spiritual such as sermons and informational such as the schedule of upcoming events). Phone apps that have been specifically designed and developed for churches will suit your needs better than those that weren’t.
Phone apps are relatively cheap.
Cost-benefit analyses of apps show that there is no question that these apps more than justify their prices. Good phone apps are excellent values and can often save your church money because they provide a single solution that consolidates many functions.
Also, since your church is not the only app user, the design and development costs of the app are spread over its customers. This means your church does not have a big outlay of funds. Yet, your church app is you, since you have customized it for your ministry.
Phone apps can help build strong relationships.
The right phone apps facilitate real, two-way, human communication. Your church members and guests feel that there is an actual person on the other end of that phone, someone who is truly interested in their thoughts, feelings, and needs.
Good phone apps can bridge the divide between your ministry and non-attendees (whether lapsed members or those in the community who don’t yet know you) because phone communication is “non” in the best ways – non-threatening, non-demanding, non-invasive.
The right phone apps can make your church a 24/7 experience for your members. They won’t only connect on the Sabbath or during a specific workshop or event. Now, there can be communication from either side whenever and wherever.
Got a smartphone? You’ve got the ability to communicate! That’s a powerful thing.
As the founder of Fluid Ministries, Jason Alexis brings a scientific common sense approach to church communications and marketing. He helps churches to spread the age-old Gospel message through modern high-tech communication channels, including mobile apps, text messaging and social media, www.fluidministry.com.