“Our church needs an app!”, I often hear. I cringe. When this is exclaimed, it’s THE thing that will fix all their church communication. But a Church App probably won’t solve your communication issues.
After working with churches for 2 decades, I usually look no farther than the website to see if the church is successfully communicating to the congregation as well as the community (their 2 audiences). Why? Because it’s still the “go to” tool for digital communication.
I’m not saying that a church does’t need an app. More and more, people are downloading apps for smart devices as the “small screen” is taking over the primary tool. This is often because an app is designed for iOS or Android devices and takes the small screen into consideration for content.
But here’s 4 reasons a Church App won’t solve your Church Communication issues.
- Your website still needs fixing. Sure, you may get people to download an app. But then, what I’ve often seen, is that the church starts preferring the app for communication and it gets all the attention. The church basically creates another platform that needs to be updated. Often the content starts replicating what should be on the website. If you have an app, it shouldn’t duplicate web content, but instead complement the website and point to your URL. That way you don’t have to keep 2 channels up. The website is still critical for communication.
- It’s almost always for internal communication. The church app ends up in your internal audience’s (congregation) pocket. No one is trying to find a church by searching the app store. Instead, external audience (community) uses Google to find something (like a church) and Google points to your website! Once associated with your church, people may download an app to solve a need (that needs to be determined). Concentrating on an app forgets those in your community that need Jesus.
- Many only use an app a few times. I’ve found that churches who purchase their app for lots of money, spend a ton of time setting it up, and regular updating the content, end up with only a few people downloading it. And then the drop-off rate is huge. This (to me) speaks to the lack of benefits that are felt when using it. If “many” want to switch to an app for sermon notes, then the app needs to be sold regularly as the place to take notes! Instead (as COVID is easing) many churches are drifting back to paper bulletins (with a note page). Then allegiance is split for the app. Often, the printed page shoved into a member’s hand upon entering becomes easier.
- It’s rarely mentioned from the pulpit. Few times I sit in a church service where a Pastor or host leader emphasizes going to the church’s website — let alone the app! Most churches don’t sell benefits for digital anything. And what I hear? Leadership often complains that no one knows what’s going on and therefore aren’t attending or engaging ministries. Yet, church comm teams push communication to social media, web, an app, in print, during announcements, and in sermons! Most church communication strategy is sadly broken. But they don’t need a Church App to fix it. Instead, they need a better strategy.