How to Create a Great Church app?

Are you a church official trying to increase engagement in your church? Smartphones are now a powerful tool to help since more than half of the global population of Christians in the U.S used a smartphone to read the bible in 2017. Read more about this and similarly incredible church engagement statistics in “10 Powerful Church Statistics on Social Media Use”.

If you are reading this then you are wondering how to create a great church app for the house of worship you manage. In this guide, I will explain the different ways that you can do this

I will start by looking at the main features such an app should have.

Contents

Features of a church app
Example of great church apps
Approach #1: Develop a mobile application for the church using AppMakr
Approach #2: Build a church app with iBuildApp Church app template
Approach #3: Create a church app with the Appy Pie app-builder
Approach #4: Develop your mobile church app that consumes ’ChurchSuite‘ APIs

Features of a church app

When you build a church app, include the following features:

  1. Your church app should easily identify with your church. It should therefore have the same brand guidelines as your church.
  2. Provide a customizable bible reading plan to your viewers. Translation and audio bibles should be part of the app.
  3. The app should help users to take notes and create their journal entries.
  4. Your church app should have a ’Push notifications‘ feature to engage your visitors between congregations.
  5. Consider live polling feature for increasing interactions with the Church-goers.
  6. The app should provide custom forms so that you can easily collect information.
  7. You need to have multimedia capabilities in your app, which will help in sharing videos of sermons. Obviously, you can also use to share our relevant content.

Read more about these essential features in “7 Church Mobile App Essencials”. Let‘s now look at examples of great church apps.

Example of great church apps

Following are a few church apps, from which you can draw inspirations:

  1. Aware3: The app has all the important features, for e.g. chat, push notifications, notes, and journals, donation, live polling, etc. They provide you an option to customize it for your church. To see a live app created using this platform, check out this ’Midwest Fellowship‘ app.
  2. UNIFY Church app: They have readymade apps that you can just customize for your church. They offer features like user profiles & registration, RSVP for events, prayer wall & message board, maps integration, church directory, document library, and more.
  3. SmartChurch: This is another ready-made church app besides, they have a free version. You can customize it for your church. The premium plans have all the relevant church app features like prayer-wall, push notifications, donation, etc. Their ’Custom’ plan, i.e. an even more premium version, allows you to create publish your own app in the ’Apple App Store’ with your logo.
  4. The Church App: Another ready-made solution for you to just customize for your organization. The platform allows standard features like engagement and donation. They provide a quote upon request.

I will now take you through a few church app development approaches.

Approach #1: Develop a mobile application for the church using AppMakr

In this approach, you can create a mobile app for a church without the help of a skilled church app developers. You will use the AppMakr app builder, where you can use their drag-and-drop tools to build your app. A quick time-to-market is an advantage.

Download Our Project Specification Template

AppMakr features and advantages

When you build a church app with this app builder, you get the following features and advantages:

  1. You can use an easy, interactive process to build your app without any coding.
  2. Include your Church‘s branding.
  3. Their analytics suite lets you monitor the user engagement.
  4. You can include in-app messages.
  5. The app can include a chat feature.
  6. There is a feature to include in-app HTML, for your additional content.
  7. You can share the app even before you publish it in the ’Google Play‘ or ’Apple App Store‘.
  8. The app can include RSS feed. Read “What Everyone Should Know About RSS Feeds” if you need to decide whether it‘s relevant for you.
  9. Including video in your app is easy with the AppMakr app builder.
  10. You can place ads using the monetizing features.
  11. Creating an image gallery is easy.
  12. The app can include podcasts hence, you can aim for better user engagement.
  13. You can build both Android and iOS, additionally, building an HTML5 version is also possible. This effectively enables you to reach over 5,000 different kinds of mobile devices.

To start your church app development with this app builder, visit “DIY Mobile App for Your Church”. There is a step-by-step guide, read it in “AppMakr Resources: How to Make an App”.

Church app development cost with AppMakr

AppMakr provides a free plan, where you can build HTML5 web apps. Their basic plan allows you to build an Android app, however, it will have the AppMakr branding. You can only use the ’AppMakr Market‘ for it, and not ’Google Play‘ or ’Apple App Store‘

Their higher-priced plans, for e.g., ’App Pro’, and ’Reseller 10-Pack’ provide you with many more options. You can build for both Android and iPhone; besides you get support for publishing your app in their respective app stores. In these options, you can use your own branding. The ’Reseller 10-Pack‘ could be particularly useful for startup companies in the field of church app development. Check their pricing plans here.

There are no limits to the number of users in any of the plans. However, the higher-priced plans have many premium support features. If you don‘t have a skilled development team at hand, you might find these useful.

In this approach, your cost of church app development includes the product cost. You also need to pay the fees for publishing in ’Google Play‘ and ’Apple App Store‘. You need to follow the respective guidelines. You can find them in “AppMakr Resources: Submitting An App To Google Play Terms for Submission”, and “AppMakr Resources: How to Get Your App Approved By iTunes”.

You don‘t need to get additional cloud service provider. There is no need to hire church app developers.

Approach #2: Build a church app with iBuildApp Church app template

iBuildApp provides you with a platform to build mobile apps for different use-cases. They also have several templates hence, you can get started quickly. With this approach, you don’t need to hire church app developers or a company that builds church apps. You get the ’Time-to-Market’ advantage.

iBuildApp church template features

You can get the iBuildApp Church template and customize it for your church. The template has the relevant church app features, for e.g.:

  • Bible-reading features;
  • It provides users with an ability to donate;
  • Broadcasting sermons are possible;
  • Various community features are included.

How to build your church app using the iBuildApp church template?

After you purchase a template from this company, they provide you with step-by-step instructions. You can use their iBuildApp support center for searching detailed documentation if you have more questions.

While you don‘t need to code, you need to know how to publish your app in the ’Google Play‘ and ’Apple App Store‘. Find the respective guidelines here, and here.

Advantages of iBuildApp church template:

You can create both Android and iOS apps. You can use their good analytics toolkit to measure user engagement, besides, you can include in-app purchases if that‘s relevant. There is no limit to the number of edits and updates. The company helps with publishing your app to the ’Google Play Store‘, and the ’Apple App Store‘.

Cost of building an app using the iBuildApp church template:

You don’t need to hire developers, furthermore, you don’t need to get separate cloud hosting account. iBuildApp has a trial period, besides, they have plans for professionals, businesses, and large companies.

The premium plans include good support options besides they will train your team in the admin and management areas. The ’Company‘ plan also includes help with private app distribution, app content security, and a few other areas. Visit the iBuildApp pricing page for more details.

Approach #3: Create a church app with the Appy Pie app-builder

Read How We Helped a Marketing Company to Build a Back-Office Custom Ads Dashboard

Appy Pie a company that focuses on mobile apps. They offer a drag-and-drop app-builder, hence, you can create your church app without hiring developers. Like the earlier two options, a quick ’Time-to-Market‘ is a crucial advantage for you.

Features of the Appy Pie church app-builder

You can include the following features in your app when you create with Appy Pie:

  • Your users can access the Bible in the app.
  • The app allows donations from users.
  • Embed YouTube or Vimeo video sermons in the app.
  • SoundCloud allows you embed audio sermons.
  • The app can include the relevant communication features.
  • You can also include Internet radio in the app.

Read more about their features in the Appy Pie church app maker webpage.

How to build your church app using Appy Pie

There is no coding skill required for this app-builder, however, you may want to onboard an experienced designer to make the most use of the layouts this company offers. You need to sign-up for Appy Pie first.

After this, the app-builder provides you step-by-step intuitive instructions. You need to choose a layout, subsequently, you need to select the relevant features. For each feature, you will need to enter the required configuration information, for e.g. social media URLs, YouTube channel, etc.

After you have configured all the features you need, you need to submit the app to the ’Google Play‘ or ’Apple App Store‘. You need to follow the guidelines I had mentioned earlier in this article.

Advantages of the Appy Pie app-builder

Their app-builder can be useful no matter which industry you are in, besides you don’t need to be an expert in mobile app technologies. Coming to the church app use case, they offer all relevant features like access to Bible, sharing video and audio sermons, donations and communication. Their premium pricing plans also include good support packages.

Cost of building an app using Appy Pie

The company presents their price here. While their basic plan allows you to make a custom church app for android only, higher-priced plans offer iOS, Windows etc. in addition. While all their paid plans include their analytics suite and monetizing capabilities, you can use your own branding information only in the ’Platinum‘ plan.

Bandwidth and storage quotas increase with higher-priced plans. While most plans have some useful support options, the ’Platinum’ plan also includes assistance for submitting an app in app stores. You don’t need to arrange for separate cloud hosting.

Approach #4: Develop your mobile church app that consumes ’ChurchSuite‘ APIs

Unlike the approaches I have mentioned earlier in this article, this approach involves developing a mobile app. For Church specific functionalities, the app will need to use the ’ChurchSuite‘ APIs, i.e. ’application programming interfaces‘.

                                                            What is ’ChurchSuite‘?

ChurchSuite is a full-fledged church management software provider. The company offers the following:

  • Church database software.
  • Church management software.
  • Church donation management software.
  • Web-based church database.
  • Church membership software.
  • Church management system.
  • Church membership database.
  • Cloud church management.
  • Church attendance database.

Now, the good news for your mobile app is that they also offer APIs for these. You need to buy the full suite of all their products to access these APIs. Check out their pricing for the full suite here. You can consume these APIs from your mobile app, however, you need to develop your app!

Assemble your development team

This is a more complex development project hence you need to onboard a team with the following skills:

  • Business analyst, for requirement definition.
  • UI/UX designer.
  • Android and iOS developers.
  • Project manager.

I recommend that you use a ’Mobile Backend as a Service’ (MBaaS) provider. Mobile backend development is a complex and lengthy affair, hence using an MBaaS provider helps you in achieving a quick ’Time to Market’. Google Firebase, AWS Mobile, Kinvey, SashiDo, and Kumolos are good MBaaS options. Check out our guide “How To Choose The Best Mobile Backend As A Service (MBaaS)?”.

Note that depending on your geography and local labor market, some of these skills could be niche. Get professional help if face staffing challenges.

A summary of your development phases

Your PM needs to manage the following:

  • Requirements definition;
  • UI/UX design;
  • iOS/Android development (I recommend developing both Android and iOS apps first up, since converting an Android app to iOS later isn’t straightforward);
  • MBaaS set-up:
  • Integration with ChurchSuite APIs;
  • Testing;

The PM needs to have good knowledge of modern project management methodologies. Read our guide “Top 7 Project Management Methodologies in 2018”.

Cost of building a church app using this approach

ChurchSuite API price is available on their pricing page that I have referred to above. MBaaS providers have their pricing plans for different usage-level, and you need to visit their websites. This approach requires full-fledged development hence you need to budget for UI/UX designer, iOS/Android developers, testers, PM, etc.

Your requirements and complexity will determine the man-hours, while your geography and the local labor market will drive the manpower cost. This is a more complex approach, hence, consider taking professional help if you find the staffing as a challenge.

Download Our Project Specification Template