Apps are an indispensable tool for accessing digital information and services quickly. There is an app for anything and everything, including churches. Why are apps so useful? Is it because they are fast and easy to use? Or because they sidestep the trouble of opening a browser, logging on to a website, and then searching for a desired function or feature? Of course, websites are amazing resources and necessary components of any healthy communications system, but when it comes to performance, speed, and agility – apps are definitely out in front.

A major factor for the success of apps is the smartphone. Over 70% of Americans own and use their smartphones for nearly every facet of their lives from connecting with friends and family via phone, text, and social media, to shopping, banking, and connecting with their church communities. Nearly 90% of this time is spent connecting via a mobile app too. Users are bypassing their browsers (even mobile-friendly browsers) and directly connecting through apps for a customized online experience. What does this mean for churches? Does your church have an app?

Here are 10 ways church apps outperform mobile websites:

1) Speed

Apps are quick, easy to use, and are more responsive than mobile responsive websites. Click your favorite app and you’re in! Your apps also store your personalized data and preferences, making it even faster to access your data than going through a web browser.

2) Accessibility

Being online all the time is possible with smartphones. Mobile accessible apps make connecting on the go very easy and remove the need for laptop or desktop computers. If your smartphone is connected, your apps are connected. And while some functionality within certain apps may require an internet connection, there are also many features users can access while offline – like downloading podcasts to listen to anytime and anywhere.

3) Enhanced Experience

Mobile apps can provide more functionality and enhanced user experiences because apps are specifically designed for use on mobile devices. Apps naturally create dynamic user interactions, as opposed to websites which are designed for laptop and desktop computers. Mobile apps give users an experience that far outshines that of a mobile website experience. Using a personalized app is like entering a membership club or a community. Just download the app and you’re in! This is critical in for the common fast-paced and on-the-go lifestyle.

4)  Personalization

Church websites are a source of static content for visitors, meaning everyone is presented with the same content. Mobile app users, on the other hand, receive content that is tailored to their personal preferences. Users choose what content they receive from the app and design their experience. Websites just can’t offer this kind of personalization.

5)  Increased User Engagement

Mobile apps tend to inspire greater user engagement and interaction. Users can quickly find what they need within the app (event calendar, Bible reading plan, small group leader contact information, etc).  This is not always the case with a mobile website. And since almost 90% of all smartphone users are spending time online using mobile apps that means that only about 10% are using mobile web browsers. That is a huge amount of user engagement that is either gained by having an app or lost by not having one.

6) Multi-Featured

Mobile apps clearly have an advantage because they are also leveraging the features of the smartphones themselves. Users can easily access the built-in functionality of their smartphone from within many apps, such as GPS, phone calls, photos, etc.

7) Instant Communication

Customized church apps allow churches to send push notifications to users to share important information such as prayer needs, alerts, updates, volunteer requests, crisis needs, or even event and service reminders. Mobile church websites are rarely equipped with this functionality.

8) Real-Time Interactions

Mobile apps allow the congregation to interact during church services when they are offered in-app experiences like real-time polls or other interactive features.

9)  Money Savers

Building and maintaining a mobile app for churches is now more cost-effective than ever. Website updates can be costly, depending on the functionality. Why worry about that? Why not add an app to enhance your overall communication and engagement capabilities, instead of redesigning church websites with new features each year? Mobile apps can increase engagement at a lower cost, and apps can be linked to and integrated into websites as well. Because technology has evolved rapidly, so have the prices. Some companies are even designing church apps for free.

10)  Customizable Bible Study

Pastors are using customized daily Bible reading plans, and devotional builders, within apps to create reading plans that correspond with their sermon teachings. This allows church leaders to engage, communicate, and follow up with members throughout the week. Apps allow quick, convenient, and engaging online Bible study to take place all week long from any location.

Pastors, church communicators, and church leaders will have to explore and discuss whether creating an app specifically for your church is the right move. Making sure that church websites are mobile ready and friendly is a good first step, regardless of whether your church moves forward with creating an app.  Would an app benefit your church? Could it enhance your church community’s ability to share and connect with one another in deeper ways? Share the word of God? Maybe it’s time to explore creating a mobile app.