The Mobile Revolution and the Church

7:00am hits, phone alarm goes off. Eat breakfast and check Twitter for morning news. Play your favorite Spotify playlist on your morning commute. Check notifications on your lunch break. Pay for coffee with the Starbucks app. Text family about dinner plans. Watch the hilarious Jimmy Fallon video your friend sent. Snap a pic of the breathtaking sunset. And much more in-between.

Sound familiar? Maybe the details differ for everyone, but one thing is the same for us all: mobile has become woven into our daily lives. With mobile passing the TV as “America’s first screen”, and people spending almost 2.5 hours daily engaging with apps alone, content consumed on a mobile device isn’t something to brush off as a passing trend.

In fact, we say with confidence that mobile has become vital. With the revolution of apps, mobile devices can now sync our daily, necessary, and leisurely activities all in one control center. People are relying on their devices to consume and communicate what is useful, helpful, and empowering in their daily lives.

[Enter the Church] These are the people that make up your congregation. These are the people that are actively seeking how to use their devices in greater and better ways. These are the people that can greatly benefit from your church’s resources beyond the Sunday service. With the global reach of the app stores, churches and ministries now have an amazing opportunity to enter the space of mobile technology and use it to provide a vital function in their congregation’s daily lives: hearing the Gospel, and staying connected to Christ’s Church.

This is a call to action. An action that we’ve seen countless churches use to fulfill their mission to spread the good news of Jesus, and use technology to be an active presence in the lives of those they shepherd. From more app downloads than members in their congregation, to increases in sermon downloads, to increases in giving, we’ve seen churches like The Village Church, Elevation Church, Fresh Life, and many others find great success through The Church App Platform. By making sermon archives, blogs, push notifications, giving, and other resources instantly accessible, apps can help you meet your audience in their context, on their time.

Think about the people that work weekends and can’t make it to Sunday services. Think about those that need your pastor’s weekly blog post to encourage their spirits. Think about the people who will share sermons via their social channels and will reach their friends and families as a result.

While there are a lot of overwhelming and uncertain ramifications that may accompany the mobile revolution, we challenge you to look at the great and powerful ways technology can be used for good. Here at Subsplash, we are passionate about using technology and delightful design to help make the most of your Gospel content. We want to see the Gospel shared to the ends of the earth. With The Church App Platform you can easily create and manage your own mobile apps, putting your content in the hands of a wider audience. We’d love to help you get started.

The Customer Service Superlative

If you’ve ever worked in customer service, you’ve probably heard of “The Disney Experience” or “The Disney Difference.” Many regard it as the superlative service benchmark; you can hear it invoked frequently across every spectrum of the service industry. But just like a trending buzz phrase, these Disney-esque ideas seem to propagate through the business landscape with little attention to context or detail. When attempting to emulate Disney magic, we’re often too easily satisfied with a vague notion of smiling faces and the way we felt on that trip to Disneyland. Notions of the ideal only get you so far. There’s an artful science behind the magic, and it applies whether you’re serving dinner, coffee, clothing, theme parks, or mobile app platform support. So, what’s the secret? There are certainly more facets to Disney’s service standards than can be written here, but if we dig into just a few key principles it can open dozens of doors leading to endless opportunities for improvement.


Disney strives to connect with their guests relationally in every interaction. Whether you’re booking your stay, waiting in line for a ride, searching for a particular attraction, or trekking back to your hotel at the end of the day, Disney “cast members” will make an intentional, proactive effort to help you. Rather than wait for you to reach out, they’ll anticipate your questions and needs, and treat you as a valuable and unique individual. Referring to their patrons as “guests” is no accident and reflects a philosophy that defines the customer as being much more significant than just a stranger paying for goods and services.

Given that it costs much less to keep fans than it does to acquire new ones, it’s no surprise that Disney has placed such an emphasis on establishing long term relationships by building trust and valuing their guests. Absent of the hussle and bussle of being processed through a system, this feeling of being valued and engaged helps breed an incredible brand loyalty that keeps fans watching the movies, buying the merchandise, and coming back to the theme parks again and again.

Quality Service

Quality service is, of course, about much more than pleasant interactions between guests and cast members. Every process a guest passes through and every environment they find themselves in has been meticulously fashioned to improve the total experience. Every physical feature of the park and every step in a guest facing process has first been viewed through the lens of guest needs and expectations. Knowing your customers’ perspectives and perceptions of the experience you design gives you the chance to exceed their expectations and deliver unparalleled service at every turn.

Attention to Detail

The most visible example of Disney’s attention to detail may be in their relentless pursuit of spotless, trash-free parks. Have you ever noticed how bright and clean Disneyland appears when compared with other theme parks? This incredible mandate is achieved through a top-notch team of custodians that clean every inch of the park at night as well as maintain it throughout the day. But the dedication doesn’t end there. To achieve their unprecedented standards, they task every cast member, regardless of their seniority, with the responsibility of keeping the park neat and clean. This unity of mission and commitment to high standards makes possible what would otherwise be an unreasonable goal.

“Magical” Moments

Beyond the courtesy, the planning, the details, the commitments, Disney wins the hearts of millions by creating “magical” moments as often as possible. Waiting in line for an attraction is usually considered uncomfortable, boring, tiring, and just no fun at all. A day at Disneyland reveals almost every line is themed, interactive, and entertaining. If you keep your eyes peeled you can spot hundreds of “hidden Mickeys” all over the park. Birthday, anniversary, and first-time pins can be picked up at guest relations; cast members are on the lookout for those pins, wishing you happy birthday, congratulations, and offering fun ideas and advice to first-timers. Even the trip back to your hotel room after the park closes hasn’t been forgotten. While riding the tram your driver might start up a game of Disney trivia, and upon entering your Disney Hotel room, you could find your recently purchased stuffed animals tucked in bed, watching tv, playing cards, or even posed cleverly to depict a famous Disney movie scene. Great care, attention, and creative energy have been spent to keep the magic alive throughout your stay and ensure you always remember your visit as fun and full of wonder.

Thoughts and Application

So now you should ask yourself, “How can I apply these ideas to my organization?” With a little creativity and some intentional thought, I’m sure you can. You don’t have to be a CEO, a pastor, or a manager to make a difference. Even if your sphere of influence is modest, you can still be a catalyst for delivering delight and improving the culture around you. You know you’ve seen it before. It’s that smiling server who remembers your favorite meal at your local restaurant. And the vendor who personally delivered a shipment to your business even though you missed the order deadline. And the tech support who helped you solve a difficult and frustrating problem, yet you were certain they were actually happy to do it.

Putting the guest first is an attitude, but it’s also a resolution to never miss an opportunity for improvement. It requires innovation, a drive for excellence, and a bit of humility as well. It means committing to these values and following through with your resolve to gracefully listen and serve, even when some of your customers have been less than gracious. This is especially important when receiving negative feedback.

Let’s be honest, most of us tend to seek positive affirmation for what we do well while playing down our shortcomings. But research shows experts and top performers take that habit and flip it on it’s head. They ascribe more “weight” to negative feedback than positive feedback. In this way, excellence can be wrought from the flames of customer complaints. And if we’re wise, we’ll request constructive criticism from our peers as well. It might sting a bit, and sometimes it will be wrong, but there is almost always some useful truths to be extracted and an opportunity for improvements to be made. And if we’re humble, honest, and driven to correct our mistakes, we’ll seize the moment to learn something, and thank them for their feedback.

So I’d like to challenge you, set aside some time to take a step back and ponder, “How can I deliver delight in my place of work?” Even if you already excel at what you do, being proactive, thoughtful, and taking a few tips from the Mouse is sure to have a positive impact. And if you’re really on board, schedule it on your calendar and make it a regular thing! Get others involved. Be intentional. I’ve made the same commitment in 2013, and it’s already yielding results. Once you start planting seeds of delight, eventually some will grow, and you might just make a big difference.

Thanks for reading.

+ Stephen

What Did I Do Before...?


Have you ever found yourself trying to remember how you used to do things before you had your latest gizmo or piece of technology? For example, 95% of the news I read is through a mobile app on my phone. Before the app, I would visit websites every day and before that?... well, I guess I never was a big fan of printed newspaper or waiting around for the 11 o’clock local news. I’m amazed at how fast technology changes the way we do simple things. I’m sure my kids will laugh when I tell them about CDs, land line phones or even laptops!

Technology changes our daily life so quickly that we can’t remember the change even occurred. I’ve had computers around since I was in middle school, so I can’t really relate to working without email or the web, but somehow people got stuff done for thousands of years before that. I’m actually quite fascinated with how people used to do stuff, from keeping foods preserved to doing international business, and how we got to the place we are today. One of the things I have appreciated most about these rapid changes is how accessible media has become. I distinctly remember when iTunes came out. It wasn’t the first place to play mp3s on your computer (or even to categorize them), but it was designed well and linked to an online store where everything was available at the click of a button, and actually legal. That not only helped change how we purchase and organize our music, but I believe it was the catalyst for Apple’s incredible 10 year run as new devices like the iPod came out that synced with the free software you were already using. Now just a few years later, we’ve entered a whole new realm of mobile access. As a sports fan, I have found myself in the past at an event where I was wishing I could check up on the score of the big game. Well today, not only can I keep up with the latest scores through an app, but I can actually watch the games live on my phone - from anywhere! Now, this may not actually be a good thing for me because I’ll always be tempted to check in on that game no matter what I’m doing, but I digress.

Another catalyst for fast changing media technology has been Netflix. Not only did they change the way we rent the latest blockbuster, but they have an entire catalog of TV shows and movies that I can watch online, through my gaming console, or on my phone. Fifteen years ago (when full house was still on the air) I could have only dreamed this would be possible. I’ll have to admit, when I first saw the iPhone, I had a hard time sleeping as my mind ran wild thinking of the possibilities, and it hasn’t disappointed. These days I would feel trapped without my iPhone. I mean, how did I ever get by with just a phone and text messaging? What did I do when I needed to find out currency exchange between the Norwegian Krone and the US Dollar while at the beach?

So, as we now have access to nearly anything at any time, how do we balance that with real life and real relationships? I mean, I’m thankful that I can simply DVR something I wanted to watch from my phone, or listen to a specific artist’s radio station from my car, but there needs to be a proper focus on real relationships and meaningful content. Technology definitely changes the way we live, but it shouldn’t change the purpose we use it for. Here at Subsplash, we have created a platform for churches to share Gospel content through media. It’s simply amazing to see how many people are watching or listening to sermons from all corners of the globe, but this also will never replace real relationships and being a part of a church community, and it’s not supposed to. It does offer us new opportunities to use technology for Kingdom purposes and lets us take advantage of the tools that we have today to make good content readily available to anyone, anywhere. We just have to remember to unplug and engage every once in a while.

Technology and the Olympics


The way we watch the Olympics has changed drastically over the last few years. Immediate satisfaction and consumption have become so commonplace in our culture that the element of surprise is hardly attainable anymore. If you were hoping to find out the results of an Olympic event while tuning in during prime time broadcasting you’d better hold your breath. Well, hold your breath, delete your Twitter and Facebook, and avoid the internet and people altogether. The Olympics has been an event celebrated worldwide since its origin - an incredible display of patriotism, athleticism, and the perseverance of the human spirit. Advances in technology have made the Olympic games more accessible than ever. This accessibility is both incredible and a target for criticism.

This year’s Olympic broadcasting has received a considerable amount of criticism for NBC producers. Several issues involving time-delays have put the studio under fire - and their reactions to these criticisms have been less than favorable. From a US perspective, the 7-9 hour time difference has been less than ideal. This was evident almost immediately with their decision to time delay and edit the opening ceremonies. Fans were expecting to be able to see big events as they were happening, in addition to during the primetime spots, but it appears that the sentiment is not shared. Numerous outlets and individuals have mentioned their disappointment in NBC, but it’s also gone as far as reporter Guy Adams being suspended from his Twitter account for expressing unfavorable opinions about NBC (along with a head exec’s email address). Twitter has actually been a large source for concern during this 2012 Olympic season. In some of the most extreme cases athletes have been banned (or removed) from the Olympic games for sharing controversial (and usually racist) comments. We’ve also seen a smaller end of the impact of Twitter with the amount of uproar that took place after officials asked attendees to refrain from Tweeting unless urgent because it was significantly slowing the networks and even the judging of events. Let’s be real though - aren’t all tweets urgent?! (insert sarcasm here) People are used to having access to anything, anywhere, anytime, and at their fingertips. The reactions to any deviation from this seems quite excessive.

So, how are you tuning into the Olympics this year? Are you watching live streaming from an app? Trying to avoid spoilers until the event premieres on television? Reading blog after blog with countless details and recaps? Or are you one of the lucky few sitting in the stands in London? Regardless, I hope you’ve gotten a chance to witness some heartwarming stories and seen the product of this World’s best athletes extreme dedication, training, and hard work. All I know is it sure makes me proud to be an American.

Crowdfunding: Raising Money Just Got Incredibly Accessible


Remember when you had to follow a map to get where you were going? Remember when mobile phones were for actually making phone calls? Advances in technology have totally changed the way we do everyday life. Case in point: crowdfunding platforms i.e. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and many more. Although we don’t give these commonplace websites much thought or concern, it really is incredible what they’ve been able to accomplish. Going back to old ways of doing business, it used to be that funding was all about who you know, and now it’s quite literally who you’ve never met.

Regardless of your orientation as a journalist, entrepreneur, investor, artist, or educator, there is absolutely a project near and dear to your heart that just needs a little boost to get off the ground! These sites provide fundraising that help turn ideas and visions into realities. Not only is financial support provided, but also a community of supporters rooting on your cause and watching you achieve your goals!

The projects being created are incredibly diverse and range from bands fundraising to release an album, new inventions and products that need funding to get started on production, to worthwhile charitable causes, and much more. These websites are an incredible tool for raising awareness and bringing great ideas into the public eye.

A unique example of how these websites are being utilized is the story of the bullied bus monitor, Karen Klein. After a video was uploaded of the elderly woman being verbally abused by middle school students in New York, people decided to take action. An individual with no relation to Klein decided to set up a fundraising account on Indiegogo with a goal of $5,000 to send this poor woman on a much deserved vacation - the response was tremendous. Over $650,000 was raised for Klein in just a matter of weeks (an exorbitant amount for anyone, but especially compared to her $15,000/year salary).

One of the most popularly funded projects on Kickstarter in the last few months was the Pebble SmartWatch. Pebble blew past its goal of $100,000 with $1,000,000 raised in the first 28 hours, and over $10,000,000 by project completion. Since Kickstarter launched in 2009: $250 million has been pledged to projects, more than 2 million people have backed a project of some kind, and 24,000 projects have been successfully funded.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to raise money, and now everyone does.” As technology and the world are ever evolving, there are more opportunities than ever to fill a need, or support a cause.

We've also seen incredible opportunities for giving through mobile applications. With The Church App Platform your ministry is able to share all of your content, news and events, and makes giving easier than ever. You can't always count on someone bringing their checkbook on Sunday morning, but you can count on them bringing their smartphone!

So what is next? Now that we can use our smartphones for practically anything, or give to a cause through an online portal, what idea will help transform an entire industry? There is nothing new under the sun, but there are always new and more efficient ways of doing the same old thing!