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. There 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.

Here are 3 Church Apps for People-Focused Pastors (in alphabetical order):

#1 – Notebird

Over the years, pastors have unsuccessfully tried all sorts of ways to organize their pastoral care. This includes sticky pads, journals, email, spreadsheets, Google Docs and even the notes app on their phones. Notebird is pastoral care software that aims to streamline this process—making it easy for congregations of all sizes to care for their people.

Notebird is one central place to organize all your pastoral and congregational care. A pastor or care team member records each of their interactions in a congregant’s Notebird profile. Over time, you’ll have a full history of care engagement and important life events for each member of your congregation.

The activity feed shows a real-time list of updates from the entire care team. Groups within Notebird keep your people and activity organized while also restricting access to sensitive information. People-focused tasks allow team members to coordinate care efforts and follow-up with congregants—making sure no one falls through the cracks.

Unlike church management platforms which have all the bells-and-whistles, Notebird is dedicated to providing a very focused app exclusively for pastoral care. The software is designed to be quick and easy to use, so recording interactions and care history is never a burden.

Pricing is meant to scale with you. If you pay annually, each user is $9 per month. $12 per user/mo if paid monthly. All accounts include unlimited congregants, updates, tasks, life milestones, and live-chat support. A 14-day free trial provides access to every Notebird feature giving you a chance to see whether it’s a good fit for you and your team.

After adopting Notebird, pastors and care teams feel organized, prepared and equipped with a tool that complements their love of people.

#2 – SmartChurch

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, address, phone number, 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. They can 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.

#3 – YouVersion Bible

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. 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 a request
  • Videos or images
  • Links to a church’s website, Facebook page, Google+ profile or Twitter account
  • Invite others to use the Bible app to follow the event
  • 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.