Leaders of faith-based organizations are noticing the growing demand for church apps—and it’s no wonder! The number of apps used per day is two times higher than it was in 2015, and people now spend 85% of their digital time on smartphones using apps. With the mobile-first population on the rise, these trends are likely to continue.
While apps open ministries up to connect with their congregations beyond the walls of the church, deciding on one must be a calculated decision. Features, price, and user experience all need to be looked at carefully.
Those that succeed with a church app (or any software for that matter) take time to do the necessary research. Their efforts result in engaging and growing communities, both online as well as in the church. In the same vein, rushed decisions can actually increase administrative burdens and decrease engagement.
In order to help you make an informed and confident decision, let’s look at what you can expect from features, price, and user experience when choosing a church app, here are four keys to consider:
Church App Key #1 – Expect a Range of Features
Your app needs to have a reason for people to use it routinely, and that’s where features come in. These fluctuate in number, so expect some church apps on the market to have a few simple features and others to have an abundance of features and customizable options. The goal isn’t to choose the church app with the most features—it is to find one that offers the most valuable features for your church.
Try not to get caught up in the long list of features that you won’t use or don’t have time to manage. Instead, identify what is important to your church. The most popular church apps include media (listening to sermons), prayer requests, online giving, events registration, integrations, and customization.
Make an informed decision by looking at features in two ways. First, look at each feature individually from the user’s point of view:
- Can people interact with this feature?
- Does it add convenience to the lives of your member?
- Have your church members requested this functionality?
Second, look at the features from the admin side:
- How easy is this feature to update and manage?
- What customer support and resources are available to help?
- Does it integrate with other software you use?
Key Takeaway: You can get an app with as many features as you’d like. Just be mindful that too many features may be a distraction for members and more time-consuming for admin.
Church App Key #2 – Expect Varying Prices
Now that you have a better idea about the features you want, it’s time to consider the price. Rather than focusing on custom-built apps that are $50k and up, we’ll look at customizable church apps that can be added on to a digital giving plan. These vary in price from free to over $200 a month.
If a church app is free, pay attention to the fine print because access to powerful features is often limited. You’ll end up purchasing a la carte items and the cost can be more than a flat rate. If prices are over $100 a month, compare features to ensure you aren’t paying for components you don’t need or won’t use.
Expect to find similar plans in a range of prices from different brands. Pay close attention because a church app that is $19/month might be extremely similar to one that’s $99/month.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when comparing prices:
- Are features similar for a $19/month church app compared to one that’s over $99/month?
- How does the overall cost of the app fit into my church’s budget? (calculate the price of the app and the cost of your church admin’s time managing it)
- What organizational shifts must be made to implement the app?
Key Takeaway: Prices will vary. Just make sure you don’t overpay for the same features and services that you can get at a fifth or more of the cost.
Church App Key #3 – Expect Different Levels of User Experience
User experience matters on the front and back end of the app. For church members, it keeps them engaged once they’ve added the app to their phones because it provides fast access to their favorite features. For the church administration, it makes managing the app seamless, so that adding the latest sermon series and managing giving is easy.
Ask yourself the following when comparing user experience:
- Does the app have a clean interface?
- Is it customizable with your church’s logo?
- Do people have quick access to favorite features?
- Is navigation simple?
- Are integrations easy to use?
Key Takeaway: Expect user experience levels to differ, and for this to impact engagement for both church admin and members.
Church App Key #4 – Expect a Better Connected Church
Beyond what is listed above, make sure you go with a reputable company when choosing a church app. This ensures you get top-notch customer support and stay at the forefront of the latest advances in apps.
By taking the time to do the research upfront and asking the right questions, not only will your admin and members love using the app, but they’ll further their connection with the church.