Happy Pastor's Appreciation Month!

October is Pastor's Appreciation Month! If you are a pastor or church leader and you are reading this, know that our team here at Subsplash loves and appreciates you! And if you aren't a pastor, we still love you, but we wanted to take a few minutes to share some encouragement for our friends who find themselves working in pastoral ministry. 

 

Keep preaching the gospel

The question of "How do we get more people in the seats on Sundays?" seems to be one that many churches are constantly wrestling with. In order to accomplish this, it can be tempting to water down the gospel, only teach "less offensive" parts of scripture, or create other gimmicks to draw people in. But even the most elaborate, "culturally relevant" event cannot save people. Only Jesus can do that. If you want to reach more people for him, simply [lovingly, faithfully, and unapologetically] preach the gospel and love the people in your city. Even if you find yourself amidst a culture that is hostile toward Christianity, know that you have the most powerful, life-giving narrative on your side. Check out this video about our friends at Downtown Cornerstone Church to see how God is working amidst their commitment to teach the scriptures.

 

Lean on the Holy Spirit

In a culture where pragmatism rules, it can be easy to look at what other churches are doing and try to fit that into your model. There is certainly wisdom to be gained from the successes and failures of others, but don't forget that your particular context is unique, and so is the story God is writing for your ministry! There will always be tough decisions in ministry, and there will always be people who have opinions about those tough decisions, but the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is infallible. In every decision, lean in to the wisdom of the Spirit and move forward with boldness, knowing that God's direction is always best.

 

Treat yourself!

We all know someone who has been burned out from ministry. Maybe you feel that way right now. Your hard work as a pastor is important, but so is taking time to rest! Make sure you are spending time with your family, taking regular vacations, and ultimately, feeding yourself spiritually. God delights in our enjoyment of the blessings he's given to us, and that includes a relaxing week at the beach with your family. Don't deprive yourself of these blessings! 

 

We know that your job isn't easy. It often requires long hours, hard conversations, and tough decisions. But take heart! God is working through you to spread his gospel to the ends of the earth, and that is the best mission in the world to be a part of. Know that you are loved, your work matters, and our team here at Subsplash is so thankful for you! Happy Pastor's Appreciation Month!

P.S. If you are reading this as someone who is a church member, make sure to encourage your pastors this month! Take their family out to dinner, buy them coffee, or simply say a kind word. Your encouragement will mean a lot!

Launch Your App With A Bang!

Have you recently launched your app? Are you getting ready to launch your app? Did you launch your app a while ago but wish more people would download it? If you answered “yes!” to any of those questions, then this blog is for you! Let’s dive in to some practical ways you can get more people to take full advantage of your app!

What we learned

We found the five churches that had some of the most successful app launches this summer (most downloads in the first 30 days) and dug into the data for where those downloads were coming from. Interestingly enough, over 70% of each church’s iOS downloads came from external referrals. This means that less than 30% of the downloads came from organic App Store searches (typing “church name” in the search box), with everything else coming from a web link, share link, etc.

What you can do

Encouraging your congregation to download your app from the stage on Sunday is a great first step to help increase adoption. But if all you’re doing is asking them to go home and search for your church in the app store, you could be missing out on hundreds or even thousands of additional app downloads. Here are a few practical steps you can take to put your gospel content in front of more people:

  • Put a link on your website. In the past, we’ve written about how your website is often the “first impression” for visitors to your church. But statistically, after that first impression, most people are more likely to engage with your content via an app rather than continually revisiting your website. Putting a “download our app” button on your website can help keep your website visitors connected long-term.

  • Take advantage of sharing. Have you ever noticed that “share” button that lives right under media items, events, and more inside your app? This allows your app users to easily share the app, a sermon, or an event with their friends and family. Tapping the “share” button opens up a menu to share via Facebook, Twitter, email, text, and more. If even just 10 people from your church with 500 Facebook friends share something in your app to their profile, that opens the door for thousands more people to get your app and engage with your content. Sharing literally only takes a few seconds!

  • Get social. Speaking of social media, why not share your app on your church’s social media pages? Someone who is scrolling through your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds is most likely already on their phone, so downloading the app is just one click away! You can also share each weekend’s sermon on your Facebook and Twitter pages via the Subsplash Web Player. Those who click to check out your sermon will also have the option to give, listen to other sermons, or download the app right there.

What's the big deal?

So what’s the big hoopla about getting more app downloads? Why does it even matter? Well, the number of downloads is just that, a number. And while we can easily quantify numbers and recommend best practices, the thing that matters most is the people behind those numbers. That person who started listening to last week's sermon after reluctantly downloading your app may be struggling in their faith. That person who had a friend share your app with them may not have heard the good news of Jesus before. Having more people download your app means that more people are having more opportunities to be encouraged and strengthened in their walk with Jesus. And that’s what matters most. Subsplash is passionate about helping you help your community in their discipleship journey. If you have any questions about best practices for launching your app, please let us know! Our Client Success team would love to help you find the right strategy. You can reach us at 206-965-8090 or hello@subsplash.com

Downtown Cornerstone Church: A Light in the Darkness

Planting a church in Seattle is no small task. According to Barna, the Greater Seattle area is the third most unchurched city in the United States. In addition, 37% of Seattleites fall into the category of “nones” - those who do not affiliate with any religion or belief system. This is the highest percentage of religious nones in the country.

With a cultural landscape that is generally hostile toward Christianity, it can be tempting for pastors to find other mediums to attract people to church, rather than simply teaching the Bible. But Pastor Adam Sinnett and the team at Downtown Cornerstone Church believe that gospel itself is far more powerful than any gimmick meant to draw outsiders in. Since they planted the church in 2010, their mission has been simple: teach the scriptures and serve the city of Seattle. Boldly proclaiming Jesus as Lord in a city that looks elsewhere for fulfillment and joy can be intimidating, but Pastor Adam and his team truly believe that if they simply remain faithful to preaching the gospel, God will show up. "The Bible is God's inspired word, given to us for the heralding of the gospel and the upbuilding of his people and the conviction of sin and the fulfilling of God's promises....it's really meant to do those things," he says. "God is in fact as good as the scriptures say he is. He is as powerful as the scriptures say he is. So we need to be careful not to bow to the cultural forces that tell us people aren't interested in Jesus or interested in the Bible. We've discovered the exact opposite to be true." God certainly has shown up at Downtown Cornerstone. Over the last seven years, they have seen sleepy Christians awakened to the joy of Christ, countless baptisms, and even the most calloused hearts transformed by the love of Jesus.

We sat down with Pastor Adam to hear more about Downtown Cornerstone and what it's like to do ministry in Seattle. Check out the video above to hear what he had to say.

To learn more about Downtown Cornerstone, visit downtowncornerstone.org or download their app.

Improvements Coming to Your App

When it comes to a great user experience, it’s all about the details. Whether it’s how fast something loads, an interface that’s clear and consistent, or an experience that feels familiar and intuitive—all of those little things add up. That’s why we’re particularly excited about the upcoming bundle of improvements coming to your iOS app.

Unified Audio and Video Player

The audio and video playing experience is now combined, which is helpful if a user is watching a video but then navigates elsewhere in the app or on their phone, in which case the audio will automatically resume playing in the same place.

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Refreshed Interface

The now playing (equalizer) icon in the upper right corner of your app now animates when listening to audio. This will make it easier for your users to find the volume and fast forward/rewind controls when listening to content.

User Accounts

Users can now create accounts so that they can access their notes and giving history on any device. This feature unlocks many improvements to come, so stay tuned!

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New Features in the App Menu

Downloads have moved to the app menu (alongside the new notes feature) for easy access.

 

You will be able to take advantage of these new features as soon as your iOS app is updated to version 4.7.0+, which will happen automatically within the next few weeks. If you're curious which version your app is currently running, you can find out by navigating to Settings > About > Version within the side menu of your app. Enjoy!

How To Revamp Your App for Fall

Don’t look now, but the season of colorful leaves, chilly mornings, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes is right around the corner. We’re trying not to think about that too much (it’s tough to beat summer in the Pacific Northwest), but the reality is that fall is fast approaching us. If you are a pastor or church leader, then chances are you are probably in the thick of ramping up for fall. And you should be - fall is a great time of year to launch new initiatives in your church. With the school year starting and summer vacations coming to a close, many people are looking to settle down and start new habits for the next handful of months. Your app can actually play a huge role in helping your church launch new fall initiatives. Let’s take a look at how you can capitalize on welcoming visitors, launching new small groups, and encouraging giving this fall:

 

Welcoming new visitors

With people settling in after summer vacations, you can probably expect to see some new visitors on Sunday mornings this fall. Hopefully your pastors and greeting team are on top of connecting with visitors, but even with the best plan and intentions, some new people may fall through the cracks. Getting your app in the hands of these visitors can help them take next steps in getting connected to your church. Here are a few things to make visible in your app that can help new visitors feel welcome:

  • Connect card

  • Children’s ministry information/check in

  • Church doctrine

  • Welcome video

 

The goal here is to provide relevant information with actionable steps in a welcoming manor. To see an example of a church that is knocking it out of the park with this, check out our friends at South Community Church in Oklahoma.

 

Promoting small groups

Small groups play a key role in discipleship, accountability, and fostering community. Your church probably has some form of small groups already set up, and fall is a great time to get people connected to those groups. Your app can play a huge role in facilitating this. Most churches like to put a plug for small groups in their Sunday service, and often times, that plug is usually made in conjunction with a slide that says something like this:

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this method. First, it is not an immediately actionable item. This requires everyone to go home, get on their computer, and remember all of these steps. The likelihood of someone remembering all of that (especially after grabbing post-church lunch with friends or taking the kids to the playground) is pretty slim. Additionally, this process could take a long time. Many people (especially millennials) will probably view these “four easy steps” as four difficult barriers. This is where your app can come to the rescue. By putting all of your small group information in the app, your congregation can take action immediately. Your pastor can even walk everyone through how to download the app and sign up for a small group while on stage. Boom. Now everyone knows how to join a group and has the opportunity to get connected right from their seat in church.

 

Encouraging generosity

Has your church seen a dip in giving over the summer months? If you have, don’t fret! The work you do this fall can set you up for long-term success, even into next summer. Just like serving in the church and getting connected to a small group, giving is a part of discipleship. Empowering your congregation to be generous helps them participate in this act of discipleship, and it helps your church plan for the future. One way to empower your congregation to be generous is simply by providing them with a simple, easy to use platform for mobile giving. The churches we work with that encourage mobile giving typically see at least a 5% increase in generosity, with many even surpassing 10%. You can place a “give” button anywhere in your app, so people who are watching sermons, reading new material, or signing up for small groups have the opportunity to give right there. Another way to encourage generosity is by promoting recurring gifts. A recurring gift takes away the potential for someone to forget their tithe (we’ve all been there), and also provides your church with a clearer financial forecast. Pro tip: Save your church money by encouraging recurring gifts via bank transfer instead of credit/debit card….bank transfers cost a fraction of the processing fees for cards!

One thing we want to make clear is that your app is not a silver bullet. We like to say around here that the app does not replace relational discipleship, but it helps facilitate it. These tips do not replace all of your technology, nor do they replace the relational work your team is doing on a daily basis. But the app can certainly help make those things easier and remove some technological barriers for your congregation. If you would like some more tips about ramping your app up for the fall, we would love to help you. Our team of Client Success Managers can work with you one on one to develop a strategy that is tailored to your ministry. Feel free to give us a call at 206-965-8090.