One of the latest crazes hitting the mobile space brings church apps to the phone, letting ministers care for and connect with their congregations. Some offer a social networking component to church life through a mobile app with Facebook-style timelines where ministers and the members can post thoughts, prayer needs, questions and ideas.
Such apps also might include giving links, Bible references for following along in a sermon or Bible study, and ways to invite people to church or Bible study. The apps can also help the minister care for their people with databases of people who connect to the church through the apps or who get added by the minister.
SmartChurch offers an app that people can install on an iPhone or Android phone. They can search for their specific church or for churches in their area based on predefined criteria, like size, worship style, location and denomination.
Will Montgomery, the Vice-president of Integration at SmartChuch described saying that it gives churches “… Facebook-like functionality and a free Church Directory right in the place where their members want it most.”
A church sets up a SmartChurch profile with a logo or picture of the church, pertinent information like address, phone number and style of worship, and names of staff. When a person connects with the church through the app, that person can read posts by ministry staff or members, learn about upcoming events and soon they can give an offering through the app, if the church subscribes to a premium version.
SmartChurch runs well with a simple to use layout. Within five minutes, I set up a profile for my church, signed up as a user and posted my first timeline post. In the near future the service will begin offering premium features that will cost $39.99/month. This will include a leader dashboard where leaders can control content. It also opens the giving page, when it becomes available. They’ll also get access to the online version which makes adding events and typing longer posts much easier. That price seems a little high for the sub-100 church, but the slightly larger congregations could afford it.
CareNotebook focuses on helping a minister connect with church members through a database of members called Care Cards. The minister can track their efforts to care for a family or person. The service includes a website, tablet app and smartphone app. Sign up for a free two-week trial before paying for the monthly subscription which starts at only $7/month.
The Care Cards keep information about the people so the minister can add notes about their caregiving, like dates they visited the person, special needs the family might have and reminders about important events like birthdays, anniversaries or the anniversary of a loved one’s death.
The service lets the minister set up what it calls Care Teams. Add users who can in turn care for a collection of members. For example, my church might create teams based on Sunday School classes or based around a Deacon Family Ministry plan. The class teacher or the deacon will use the app to track their caregiving of their class members or the families the church assigns them. The larger a church grows, the more people the ministry staff will need to include in the CareNotebook service. The Care Teams app can scale to work with a congregation when it’s small by signing up for a single user account. Then the church can add more users as it grows.
The cost per month depends on how many caregivers the church needs. For a solo caregiver, CareNotebook charges $7/month after the free 14-day trial period. Five users costs $19/month. Ten or twenty users costs $39 or $69 per month respectively. Larger teams will need to get a customized quote from the company.
Most Christians with smartphones or Tablets know about the YouVersion Bible app from LifeChurch.tv. The app offers a wonderful experience for daily Bible reading. The latest version of the app adds the ability to follow friends or family like one does with Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. If people highlight a verse or add some personal notes, they can choose to share them with followers using the social networking features in the new updated version.
Churches can harness the YouVersion Bible app to create an interactive worship experience with the Live Events and Groups. A pastor or teacher can set up a Group for their church or small group on Bible.com. The add a Live Event with things like…
- Bible readings
- Study or sermon notes
- Interactive poll questions
- Lists of prayer requests with a place to submit request
- Links to videos or image
- Links to a church’s website, Facebook page, Google+ profile or Twitter account
- Links to invite others to use the Bible app to follow the event
- Links to giving sites so people can contribute
If a person submits a question, a prayer request, or answers the poll, the creator will get a report of their responses.
Anyone who follows a Live Event can share links to their own social networks so they can invite friends or family to the Live Event. LifeChurch provides the YouVersion Bible app and service completely free. ChurchTechToday recently posted an article written by a pastor using YouVersion Live successfully.