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Does my church need an app?

Does my church need an app?

Over the years (since the release of the iPhone in 2007, the proliferation of mobile apps since about 2009-2010, and the advent of the agency in 2011) we have been asked many times about building an app for churches. There are companies that have made their entire business on convincing churches that they needed an app. They did pretty good for what they were. We’ve even made a foray into a site-connected web app add on to our MereChurch product. It never sells.

Where an app can be useful

My advice since first seeing apps come out has always been “unless you are looking to take advantage of some aspect of the hardware of the device (geolocation, accelerometers, camera, mic, etc.) you don’t need an app, you need your website to be really really good on mobile.”

In fact these days you want your site to be as good or better on mobile than on desktop. The mobile site should be the primary design and the desktop should be the secondary thought process.

There IS a definite utility for apps that connect to your church management system (directory, group messaging, giving, etc) - but that’s a different and separate thing from your public facing website. Our uncompensated recommendation for that is always Planning Center.

Our recommendation

Churches don’t need apps for the website content. They need a really good mobile website.

Having a really good mobile website helps lots of things, most notably it helps your users, the majority of whom are going to be experiencing your site on their handheld device. Secondly, Google ranks you higher if your mobile site performs well and displays relevant content to your users very quickly.

We recommend churches not bother with an app. But rather focus those resources on making their mobile site really good. And of course my primary recommendation for that would be to get a MereChurch website. We are focusing our new designs on being super useful on mobile devices, leaving you to focus on a single system, your users with a seamless experience, and google with plenty of clarity on where to send people when they are searching for churches in your area.