Qualifying reasons abound for why your church can benefit from The Church App, but we'd like to share with you some quantitative info as well. We have been blessed to have the opportunity to build apps for some of the most influential churches and ministries out there. It's exciting to see how God is using this technology for His Kingdom and we can't help but want to share!
The most measurable and attainable benefits of using The Church App include: serving your current audience and community by making your content incredibly accessible, increasing reach and viewership, reducing costs, increasing donations, and most importantly helping people meet and grow with Jesus. Below* are real examples of these benefits from ministries that have experienced them. 1: Making Your Content Incredibly Accessible
Adding value to your current audience is so important, and making your content easily accessible is one of the best ways to do just that. It truly is all about content and quality, and churches are creating incredible Gospel centered content every single week. We’ve seen several churches that have doubled and sometimes tripled their sermon download rate via The Church App. In fact, many ministries have had just as many visitors and hits in their app as on their website. It's easier than ever for people to access church media from anywhere - without having to download individual sermons or sit at their computer.The apps we've built have had millions of downloads, countless app launches and hours spent within the apps, as well as half-a-million page views daily on our platform. Success in that area is all about pairing great content with an equally refined system for presenting it . We work diligently to assure that the content created by churches and ministries is experienced in the best way possible — especially for extended-play media. Our Advanced Audio Player has the capacity to download for offline listening, seek, fast-forward/rewind, continues to play in the background if multitasking with other apps, and remembers where you left if your busy day causes interruptions. We’ve also invested years of hard work into creating the Subsplash Encoder. Our Encoder creates mobile-optimized videos that are of the highest-quality possible while streaming over wifi and cell networks (all while conserving battery-life and data-transfer). The Subsplash Encoder is Apple-approved and is optimized for iPhone, iPad and Android. We care about making sure churches and ministries can present their gospel-centered content with excellence in order to give their audience the best experience possible!
"The app is amazing...absolutely incredible! Any church that believes the Bible—taught well with Jesus as the hero—should attempt to do all they can to get the word out more broadly. If we love Jesus and people, we want to get his truth and love to them as cheaply, effectively, and responsibly as we can."
- Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church
*This is part 1 in a 5 part series. Skip to Part 2
“Do we need an app?” That’s one of the primary tech related questions being asked today by organizations of all sizes. There are a number of reasons to consider taking your message and offerings mobile, but how do you know if it’s right for you?
Today, people are consuming data nearly as much on their mobile devices as they are on their computers. In fact, mobile is projected to become the dominant source for data consumption in the near future. Just two short years ago, app development was largely reserved for game creators or huge corporations with substantial budgets for custom development. Today, apps are being created daily for anyone looking to connect with their audience in a new way. It’s no longer a conversation for the Fortune 500 or tech elite, it’s now mainstream.
It all started with a little company called Apple, you know, the world’s most valuable company (http://bit.ly/pcSTu4). Or you could say it started with Palm in the late 90's, but we'll just start with Apple when they created the iPhone and subsequently the App Store, which then started a revolution of mobile mania that created a new industry and attracted competition from other humble companies such as Google and their Android Platform and Marketplace. When the iPhone first came out, mobile websites were the first to break ground. These mobile friendly sites made navigating easy on a tiny screen. But soon, the incredible features and overall experience of apps began to seize control. These days, apps are by far the preferred choice by mobile users. In fact, people spend an average of 81 minutes per day using apps. Apps give users the ability to do things that still aren’t possible with mobile websites such as bluetooth, camera, and GPS. Apps have the edge in the overall speed, performance, and user experience because they are designed specifically for your device. Now, with HTML5 on the scene, mobile sites are growing in feature capabilities and experience, but will likely always be a step behind. Furthermore, to have an app in the App Store is a big deal. It’s more than just having something that works with a mobile phone, it’s about making it incredibly available. The App Store, as well as the Android Marketplace, are today’s storefronts. It’s the market and it’s where the mobile generation shops!
So, do you need an app? Well, it really depends on what you want to do. We’ve seen two primary keys to having a successful mobile app; content and experience. First and foremost, you have to have the content. If you are creating an app as a novelty, you are probably wasting your time and money. But, if you are giving your audience a reason to use your app and to return to your app, then you should think about mobile. It’s just where people are! Why not make your content easier than ever to access? Second, you need to make sure that your mobile app is good, really good. If people download an app and it just doesn’t look good or work right, they will likely delete it immediately or never open it again. Be very cautious with how you proceed. You need to make sure your app is high quality and you need to have a plan to keep it up to date. If you focus on keeping your content fresh and having a high quality experience for your audience, you should have a very positive response.
The final piece of the puzzle is to figure out how to get your app developed and then published. There are a few options to consider and they couldn’t be more different.
You can work with work with a consulting firm like us to help you build an incredible custom app across multiple platforms. This will result in the best possible end product and you can really do anything you want. It will truly be a brilliant bit of software, but it will cost much more and will take time.
The second option is to try to do it yourself or work with an individual developer. This process is often the longest and the end result will vary largely depending on what you are trying to accomplish. It may also end up costing more money than you bargained for.
The third option is to use a native app platform to create a high quality mobile app at a fraction of the cost of custom development. Using an app platform like ours, the Subsplash App Platform, gives you complete control of your content and helps you offer a variety of features without having to break the bank. You would use our App Builder to control all aspects of your app from layout and branding to new content. This is also the best option for keeping your app up to date. We take care of OS updates, bug fixes, analytics, add in new features, give full tech support, and more. It is really the simplest option if you have content that you want to present to your audience. With these apps you have a number of robust features for content presentation such as videos, audio, blogs, calendars, news, maps, social sharing, and more.
I hope this has helped you answer some questions about mobile. It’s an amazing new world where people can access content from anywhere, anytime. We want you to be a part of it!
At Mars Hill Church, it’s all about Jesus. From blog posts to sermons, the ministry is always working to be on mission for Christ. The Church App for iPhone began a little over a year ago as a dream to serve this Seattle-based, Bible-loving, culturally savvy church we call home. In April 2009, Subsplash teamed up with their tech team to create the Mars Hill Church iPhone app. At the time, we didn’t realize that it would change the way members listen to sermons and rock out to worship music. It’s been almost a year since the release of the Mars Hill Church iPhone app, and we’ve found ourselves wondering how the Church is using this technology to spread the Gospel. In this interview—first in a three part series—we spotlight Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church’s use of this new medium.
Subsplash: Mars Hill Church was among the first to publish a church iPhone app almost a year ago. You, Pastor Mark, have been one of the most downloaded podcasts on iTunes. Considering that Mars Hill Church is at the forefront of utilizing mobile technology, in what ways has mobile tech impacted your ministry?
Pastor Mark: Without the Internet, my ministry is completely different. In God’s providence we started our church about the same time that the Internet went public, near Microsoft, and have ridden that wave ever since.
Subsplash: Some churches might want to use new technology simply because it’s cutting-edge…how do think the church has embraced technology well? How do think it has embraced technology poorly?
Pastor Mark: The key is to have biblically rooted Jesus-centered content and lots of it. It’s great to speak to a wide audience, but only if the content advances the cause of Christ. Ministries fail both in having poor content that is widely delivered, and conversely good content that is not widely delivered.
Subsplash: What is the theological reasoning behind Mars Hill Church’s use of technology to forward the Gospel?
Pastor Mark: Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9 that he became all things to all men so that by “all means” he might save as many people as possible. It’s that simple. We use whatever we can to tell as many as we can about Jesus. Technology is simply a tool or an idol depending upon whether it helps or hinders the forward progress of the gospel.
Subsplash: Do you believe all churches are candidates for cutting-edge, technological advancements like podcasting or an iPhone app? Why or why not?
Pastor Mark: Any church that believes the Bible is taught well with Jesus as the hero should attempt to do all they can to get the word out more broadly. If we love Jesus and people, we want to get his truth and love to them as cheaply, effectively, and responsibly as we can.
Thanks Pastor Mark! We are so thankful that God blessed us with the chance to work with your ministry.