I’m willing to bet my life savings on the following statement being true: your church already has a website (email me if you don’t and let’s make a payment plan). Double or nothing that you definitely have some sort of web presence. So do you really need a church app? What are the pros and cons of a great church website vs a church app?
Close out all of your related tabs on this, because I’m going to give you a pretty-lookin’ summary of the discussion thus far:
- Arguments For, by Church app companies:
- You need an app for these 4-6 key reasons. (Hint: They all boil down to “Apps help you communicate more effectively.”)
- People use smartphones all the time, and most of that time is spent on apps.
- Arguments Against, by Web builders
We’ve already talked about the arguments for, let’s dig into the other side!
This article is part 2 of a 3-part series examining whether or not your church needs an app. In part 1, I break down why church app builders all think you need an app.
Against Church Apps: Argument #1
Apps are expensive! A custom app (like YouVersion’s Bible App) is going to cost at least $100,000. You could buy so many new soundboards for that kind of money! Even if you go with a church app template builder (like Subsplash or Tithely), it’s going to cost you more than what you are currently paying for your website & ChMS. If your church is composed mostly of Apple users, then you will have to sign up for an Apple Developer account and pay to register your app on the app store.
These costs don’t include the “set-up” fee that church app builders have when delivering your app builder. It gets expensive quickly! Still, if your church is flushed with cash, we’ve still got another point to consider.
Argument Against Church Apps #2: Your Website Should Be Able to Do Everything You “Need” an App to Do.
Let’s be real. Are people going to go to your new app for the Bible? Probably not. Are people going to take notes in your app? Maybe? Are people going to send messages back and forth in an app? Why wouldn’t they just text each other?
To me, all of the flashy features of a church app translate into more work for your communications team. All of that work also has a poor ROI, because these features will actually disrupt a lot of the pre-existing rhythms your users already have! We know how hard it is to get people to change (barring an act of God, of course), so why implement a new tool that sells itself on asking people to drastically change their rhythms?
You aren’t going to be building a custom app—you wouldn’t be here if you were. That means you’re going to be dedicating a lot of time populating a new app with content. Instead of that, why not work to refine your communications strategy? A church app isn’t going to revolutionize the way you communicate, but a better communications strategy will!
In my experience, a mobile-friendly church website is going to be just as effective as a church app, and it’s going to deliver a better user experience for you (and your teammates) from a content management perspective. Take the time (and money) you were going to spend on a church app and dedicate it towards updating your website, getting a new communications strategy, getting user feedback, and more practical ways to get the message out there.
It may not be as flashy, but I guarantee people are more likely to visit your website than they are to download an app. From almost-first-time-visitors to lifelong members, your website is going to feel more familiar to them than any app you could develop. Going to websites is a part of our daily rhythms, so you fit right in and aren’t asking people to change.
All that being said, there is a third option if you want to get into the app game, you’ve got a rocking website and communication strategy, and you’re willing to spend some money (but maybe not hundreds of thousands of dollars). Jump on in to part 3 of this discussion: Progressive Web Apps!