How To Get People To Use Your Church Mobile App

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Your church just launched—or re-launched—its mobile app, but no one seems to be taking advantage of this new tool. Maybe your church community isn’t quite as tech-savvy as you thought they were. Or maybe you’re just having a difficult time getting everyone on board to actually use it. So how do you make sure your church community utilizes this new technology at their fingertips?

1. Explain why they should use it

Don’t just tell people that they should use your new mobile app. Tell them why they should use it. Let them know that it will make event registration or giving much faster and easier for them—and for the staff and volunteers who manage these processes. Explain that it is uniquely available to them anytime, anywhere. If they’re on vacation a thousand miles away, they can catch up on the sermon they missed through your mobile media center. Tell them that it includes some tools like mobile check-in that are only available through your app. And let them know that it will make staying connected with their church family easier with a mobile church directory.

2. Demonstrate it

Don’t just tell people about your mobile app. Show them how to use it. During the Sunday morning announcements, let your pastor demonstrate the basics and encourage people to install it from their seats. First Church of God in Columbia City, Indiana started off right by dedicating time to show the church community their mobile app. Check out their well-executed demonstration for some ideas.

3. Continually promote it

Don’t just plug your mobile app once. Continue to promote it regularly—especially as you add new elements or gain access to additional features. If you demonstrate the app during announcements, get video of the presentation and place it on your website like First Church of God did or create a simple video that will generate interest. Include all the details about your church mobile app in your monthly newsletter, like how to find it in the App Store or Google Play Store. Insert a slide during the pre-service loop that showcases this new tool. Place a promo in your bulletin or even send a printed piece to your congregation. Post details to social media to increase the buzz around the app. Your mobile app provider should be able to provide some helpful resources to simplify promotion.

A mobile app can be a great tool to keep your church connected, but it won’t create engagement if no one’s using it. Ensure you get the most mileage out of this technology with a strong strategy to get people on board.

What has your church done to successfully launch its mobile app? 

8 Ways To Prepare For Easter With Mobile Technology

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In a 2012 poll by LifeWay Research, 93 percent of pastors reported that Easter topped the list of holidays with the highest church attendance.

Each spring churches see Chreasters pile into these services, but they still struggle to prepare and communicate effectively. Your church can gear up for the busiest Sunday of the year by making wise use of mobile technology in 8 ways:

  1. Don’t make people pinch or scroll.

Google searches for “church” peak each year around Easter, and 56 percent of millennials will scope out churches online before visiting. Most of them will do their research via smartphone. What are they going to find when they get to your website? If your church website isn’t responsive, mobile visitors won’t be able to easily find the information they need and probably won’t visit your church.

  1. Make your mobile app easy-to-find.

You need to keep your regular church community in the know this time of year, too. Customize your mobile app so people can readily find it in the App Store or Google Play and encourage everyone in your church community to install it if they haven’t already.

  1. Keep your mobile information current.

Because of the influx of guests, many churches need to add or adjust service times at Easter. Make sure all these details and any contact information is up-to-date within your mobile app so people don’t show up to an empty building.

  1. Secure volunteers in seconds.

Your church will probably need a few extra greeters and children’s ministry workers on Easter Sunday. Recruit help this week during the morning announcements and encourage people to sign up immediately via a link within your mobile app.

  1. Get your RSVPs.

If you’re hosting any special holiday events that require people to register ahead of time, allow them to sign up from your mobile app while it’s fresh in their minds.

  1. Expedite the check-in process.

Entire families of visitors will be packing into your church Easter weekend which means even more kid’s ministry check-ins. Encourage your church community to utilize mobile check-in to reduce congestion and shorten lines for your guests.

  1. Foster generosity.

Both your regular church community and guests might exhibit extra generosity at Easter, so provide convenient options for them to give. Giving from your mobile app is simple for regulars, and text to give allows first-time givers to make a contribution without setting up an account.

  1. Upload resources.

People might want to catch the service they missed, and guests might want to hear more after Easter, so stock your mobile media center with plenty of audio, video, and notes.

How does your church use mobile technology when preparing for holiday services?

 

Check out these other resources as you prepare for Easter:

7 Suggestions for Easter Preparation

How to Engage Church Attendees…Easter and Beyond

7 Church Tech Tips for Easter Sunday Services

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

8 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Church Mobile App

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It shouldn’t just be a mobile version of your church website. While your website will primarily provide information to potential visitors, a mobile app should offer more engaging content and tools for your church community.

And mobile apps aren’t for every church. If you see more checkbooks than iPhones being used each Sunday, a mobile app probably won’t serve your church well. But if your church community is quick to adopt new technology, a mobile app could be the perfect tool. And here’s how to make sure you’re getting the most out of it:

1. Integrate with your church database

Make sure your mobile app is integrated with your church management software. It will save your staff time and increase the usability for your church community.

2. Provide another giving option

If most people in your church don’t carry cash and have never written a check, mobile giving could provide convenience for your church community and consistency to your giving. The ability to make contributions to different funds and view giving history right on their smartphones will encourage people to be generous and wise stewards.

3. Allow people to check in

If your check-in stations are congested each Sunday morning, including a check-in option on your mobile app could make the process faster, easier, and more organized.

4. Expedite event registration

People might not remember to register for the next conference or retreat once they get home. Encourage them to sign up from their pews and even pay while it’s still on their minds. Mobile registration could lead to a better turn out for your church events.

5. Make the latest sermon series available

A mobile media center will allow people to catch up on services they’ve missed or access relevant resources wherever they are.

6. Simplify connection

Include a church directory in your mobile app so members of your church community can easily connect with each other throughout the week. Look for options that allow staff to take notes and include follow-up tasks so they can stay organized on the go. And consider providing an option for people to get plugged into a small group at their fingertips.

7. Customize

Make your mobile app stand out in the App Store and Google Play with a custom name and unique icon that reflects your church’s branding strategy.  Include other customized content relevant to individual ministries or campaigns so your mobile app isn’t generic—it’s tailored to your church community’s needs.

8. Promote

All these tools will go to waste if your church community doesn’t know that they’re available, so actively promote your mobile app and all the convenience it offers. Demonstrate a feature from the pulpit. Include details in your church newsletter. Place an informational card in the bulletin. Mention it during announcements. Throw a slide up. Plug it on Facebook and your website. And don’t stop after one week. Continue to remind people about your mobile app and show them all it can do.

Check out these other resources to determine if a mobile app is right for your church:

Is Your Church Ready for a Mobile App?

Why and How to Use a Mobile App for Your Church

Does Your Church Need a Mobile App?

Image Credits: istockphoto

Why The Moms In Your Church Need Mobile Check-In

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Your church has got a great check-in system: a couple kiosks, label printers, barcode scanners. But what about mobile check-in? For the sake of the moms in your church, you might want to take advantage of this convenient feature.

Just imagine a mom from your church hauling her six little ones to church Sunday morning—alone. It’s six on one. Even with well-behaved kids, those are terrible odds.

After a series of spills and tantrums, she packs the kids into her minivan and takes off for church.

Twelve are we there yets later, they pull into the parking lot. While the kids are still buckled in, mom whips out her iPhone, opens the church mobile app, and uses express check-in to get the entire crew checked in.

She unloads the van, scans the confirmation code on her phone at a kiosk inside, and grabs the printed name tags that display soy, dairy, and peanut allergies. Drop the kids off at their classrooms, and it’s on to sixty minutes of peaceful, uninterrupted worship for this exhausted mom.

But what if one of those kids dropped her brand new phone in the bathtub this morning? Rather than trying to harness six rowdy kids in the check-in kiosk line, she can walk over to a volunteer checking people in from a tablet. Tell him their names, and she’s done.

Now picture that scenario without mobile check-in. That’s when mom really feels outnumbered. Even though check-in kiosks are fast and efficient, it seems like everyone shows up to church five minutes before the service starts, resulting in a long line and congestion surrounding check-in stations. And mom is trying to keep six tired, fussy kids still and quiet until they make it to the front of the line. They sneak off, spill juice, have accidents—so mom gets the kids checked in with enough time to catch the last thirty seconds of the closing song.

Helping Your Church Community

 

Mobile check-in isn’t just another shiny new feature. It’s about making things practical, convenient, and easy for your church community—especially the mom who’s got her hands full on a Sunday morning. And that’s because mobile check-in:

  • Minimizes the number of check-in kiosks needed
  • Eliminates crowded check-in stations
  • Operates on iOS and Android mobile devices
  • Works even when check-in kiosks are running offline
  • Is included in the free mobile app with Elexio’s database and check-in

Of course the dads, grandparents, and basically everyone else in your church will be happy you made the switch, too. But it’s those moms running on two hours of sleep and a pot of French roast who will be extra-thankful for this lifesaver.

So consider adopting mobile check-in for your church, at least until moms grow three more arms or every kid in your church suddenly turns into an angel.

Now if only there were an app for that…

Want to learn more about mobile check-in? Check out the video and let us answer your questions!

Getting The Most Out Of Sermons With SparkNotes App

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Have you ever panicked just before it’s time to get together with your small group to discuss the current sermon series?  You went to church, you tried your best to stay awake, but you just couldn’t keep up with all the twists and turns of the message.

Anyone who has experienced the frustration of trying to make sense of a disjointed sermon that rambles from the Old Testament to current events to the Middle Ages to the Oscars will appreciate what I am talking about.  Especially those who stayed up late Saturday night to watch the Midwest Regional of the NCAA tournament (was that painful or what?).  Thankfully, Elexio has provided a great solution: the Sermon SparkNotes Mobile App.

Perfect for anyone who needs a little help deciphering the latest sermon – and who hasn’t needed a little help from time to time – Elexio’s Sermon SparkNotes App records the sermon and breaks it down into talking points you can remember.

Points like:

  • The topic – Let’s face it, sometimes even that is hard to figure out.
  • Who Said What.
  • Biblical References (who can keep up?).
  • “The Top 5/7/10/20 Things God Wants You to Do” after hearing the message.
  • The pastor’s favorite sports team.

You are probably asking yourself, can an app really do this? Yes, it can!

As someone who participated in the Beta trial, I was able to secretly test out the app for 3 weeks.  The results were impressive.  My small group had no idea I was cheating, er, getting help.

Please tell us how you kept up with the message this week!” they begged. “I couldn’t figure out WHAT he was talking about – how did you?” “Pastor Paul said there were ‘5 Things God Wants You to Remember’ but I only counted 3.”

Results, however, were slightly suspect at times.  I have to say, the App seemed to overreach a bit and came up with a few study guide extras that made my group a little suspicious.

I don’t get how Pastor Paul’s reference to his favorite flavor of ice cream was a metaphor for Moses’ mad dash to Midian,” said my group leader Mark.  And, “How did you come up with a list of 20 literary devices found in this week’s message?”

Look, the App isn’t perfect but it sure beats showing up at small group meetings unprepared.  The App is also a great crutch for people who’ve always wanted to lead a small group but let their fear of not “getting” the sermon hold them back.

Some of my favorite features of the App include:

  • Full translation of the sermon into Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek (for the over achievers among us).
  • Optimized Offerings – let the pastor know you appreciated the shorter sermon this week with a little extra giving via the in-app contributions feature.
  • Optional homework completion – this is a paid feature but SO worth it.  Never show up to your small group meeting again without your homework done.
  • Lists of the pastor’s favorite Bible passages, authors, historical events, sports teams, etc.
  • Sample summaries to help you boil down the sermon into 10 words or less.

Interested in impressing your small group with Elexio’s Sermon SparkNotes App? It’s free. Download it now.

 

10 Ways To Encourage Church Volunteers Easter And Beyond

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Volunteers are a precious commodity for most non-profit organizations, including churches.  Anyone who has spent significant time volunteering knows the stats:  roughly 20% volunteer (do all the work) while the other 80% do not.  We begin to feel like Martha, complaining about our work load while Mary gets to enjoy listening to the message.

How do we find the balance between Martha and Mary?  How do we encourage more people to volunteer, not only at the busiest of times like Easter but throughout the year?

10 Ways to Encourage Volunteers

1.    Encourage and thank your existing volunteers.

The fastest way to lose the 20% who faithfully volunteer is to make them feel underappreciated.   Send a hand-written thank you note.  Host a volunteer appreciation breakfast, lunch or brunch.  Thank with a gift certificate for above and beyond service or hold a monthly drawing to select a winner for the month.  It is important to do something to make your volunteers feel appreciated.  Encourage them by taking the time to recognize their contributions.

2.    Ask

How often do you ask for volunteers?  Do you ask everyone at once during worship or do you assign lead volunteers to create a more personal invitation?  Do you encourage small groups to sign up to volunteer?  Sometimes getting more volunteers is simply a matter of asking.  Those of us with a Martha complex know deep down that often we take on too much by choice.  To encourage discipleship we must be willing to share the responsibility.

3.    Tell them your needs

How often do you keep your membership up-to-date on volunteer needs?  Are you updating your website, mobile app or self-service kiosk regularly with a list of current volunteer requests? Let your members and visitors know how they can access this information and make it readily available to them.

4.    Provide the right opportunity

Volunteers enjoy using their unique gifts to serve.  Whether it is a work skill (e.g. management/organization), a recreational talent they enjoy (e.g., photography), or something they simply have an aptitude for (e.g., carpentry), provide volunteers with opportunities best suited to their gifts and their personalities.   Some people like serving out front and have the perfect personality for greeting people and making them feel welcome.  Others prefer to work behind the scenes and prefer to be assigned specific tasks.  Whether you need to tap into someone’s artistic ability to design a new worship set or simply need people to set up tables and chairs, provide a variety of opportunities that volunteers can choose from and enjoy.

5.    Let them grow

Give volunteers an opportunity to try something new and learn from others.  Maybe someone has always wanted to help build a worship set but was too afraid to try.  If this is their first time helping, ease them into it by assigning a partner or mentor who can guide them or help them develop their talents.

6.    Make it Meaningful

A Barna Group study found that “the most positive church experiences among Millennials are relational.”  Of Millennials who remain active in church, 59% had a close adult friend at church and 28% had an adult mentor at church who was not a pastor or staff member.  Through these relationships, 46% learned that Christians can have a positive outcome on society.  Developing a volunteer mentor program can have a positive outcome on deepening faith for the next generation.

Millennials also want to contribute.  The same study found that 33% of Millennials who are active in church found a cause or issue at church that motivated them.  Do you know what motivates Millennials or anyone at your church to volunteer?

7.    Give them an opportunity to provide input

What do members and visitors feel most passionate about? Perhaps they’ve identified a need you haven’t.  Give them an opportunity to provide feedback.  There are numerous ways to do this: via social media, a comment form on your website, through small group leaders, or during worship (have fun asking people to text their thoughts and share as part of a sermon message on the topic).   Ask and respond by providing opportunities for people to get involved.

8.    Track participation

Intentions and reality are two different things.  Do you know which volunteer opportunities resulted in the most participation?  Did the time of year make a difference?  Which age groups participated?  Did some events attract entire groups – e.g., families, small groups, boy/girl scouts, etc. – to participate?  Track and evaluate participation then adapt your volunteer opportunities accordingly.

9.    Plan ahead

Yes, too many of us are overscheduled and overcommitted.  Accept it and work with it.  Plan ahead.  Ministry leaders need to work together to plan volunteer opportunities tied to its mission.  They need to coordinate calendars to understand church-wide needs for the year.  Avoid scheduling major events close together.  Both staff and volunteers suffer from burnout when asked to do too much in too short of a period.  Be considerate of their time and give them sufficient time to coordinate and balance their work schedule, family time and volunteer service.

10.     Give them a break

We all deserve time off.  A shallow volunteer pool is not sufficient reason to exhaust your most faithful and dedicated helpers.  Reward them by insisting that they schedule time off from their regular volunteer schedule.  Resist the temptation to ask them to participate in every big event at the church.  Encourage them to each enlist one new person to serve.

Developing discipleship through volunteers is critical to church growth.  Take a step back and consider if a fresh approach to attracting and retaining volunteers is required.

Need help connecting with volunteers?  Contact us.

Mobile Technology And The Church

Americans are now using smartphones and tablets more than PCs to access the Internet. During January 2014, mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States and 12% of America’s media consumption.  By the end of 2014 it is expected that more than 79% of Internet users worldwide will access the Web from a mobile device.

Apps comprised nearly half (47%) of all Internet traffic during January 2014 and mobile browsers accounted for 8% of traffic.  In contrast to mobile websites, which are accessed within a browser, mobile apps are downloaded and installed on smartphones and tablets.  They can access information from the Internet or they enable a user to download content so that it can be retrieved without an Internet connection.  Mobile apps are preferred over mobile websites by an overwhelming majority of users (85%) because they are perceived as:

  • Faster (48%)
  • Easier (40%)
  • More convenient (55%)

So what does faith in a mobile world look like?

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Need help identifying mobile solutions? Elexio has an integrated suite of solutions that will help your staff be more efficient, connect with your community, grow, and relate to a constantly changing demographic. Contact us!

3 Ways Mobile Technology Helps Missionaries

Brian was absent from our small group one night this past February. He was in Nepal, 7,700 miles away, helping a leprosy clinic with some technology needs. But he still showed up at our meeting halfway through.

Using FaceTime on his iPad, Brian called our small-group leader’s iPhone. As the leader held up his phone so we could all see the screen, we had a face-to-face, real-time conversation with Brian.

This kind of event has quickly become commonplace, and thank God for it. Missionaries who are traveling can now maintain connection as their trip unfolds with their stateside church family through their church’s mobile app.  Significant resources are provided by Elexio to all its database customers with an iPhone/Android native mobile app. With it they can research their church directory and find contact information. They can make online contributions. And soon they’ll be able to review the latest church media and other relevant event information.

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photo credit: iStockphoto

This is exciting! This is amazing! This is Star Wars stuff!

Now, I may or may not be old enough to have been amazed at the physical possibility of hologram messages and hovering speeder bikes. Today’s generation is more blasé about what technology makes possible; it’s been part of their everyday lives for years.

But regardless of our age, all of us who care about missionaries can be excited about the new possibilities mobile technology has opened up for these servants around the world.

The new tools of the trade

The first missionaries (St. Paul and friends) had some technology available to them—mostly parchment, boats, sandals, and Roman roads. Compared to those things, the tools in the hands of today’s missionaries are almost breathtaking.

What technologies are we talking about?

•    Phones (satellite, smart phones)

•    Digital video/webcams

•    Web, including VoIP—Voice Over Internet Protocol

•    iPad/tablets/laptops/netbooks

•    Pocket-sized video projectors

•    E-readers/Cloud-based document sources

•    Web-based funds management

What might Paul have done with all of that!

Tech helps missionaries to communicate

Instant communication is probably the capability we are most aware of. Missionaries can post photos of the environment they’re living in and the people they’re working with. They can give real-time reports to missions committees and church gatherings. They can send out urgent prayer requests and updates instantly via email and text messages. They can receive urgent security notifications and updates on the field.

They also can:

•    Post status updates to social media

•    Chat via video apps with supporters, friends, and family

•    Share testimonies instantly with a virtual worldwide audience. (No more waiting for a quarterly newsletter or furlough!)

Tech helps them to learn and teach

Free apps like YouVersion (www.youversion.com) provide a growing number of Bible versions and other study tools. With the massive amounts of data storage on e-readers, tablets, and smart phones, a missionary can carry his or her entire library everywhere.

With web access, their research options are almost unlimited. Distance learning and distance teaching, impossible not all that long ago, are common on more and more mission fields. Highly portable video and audio allow them to train, to communicate, and to document their work wherever they go.

Tech helps to broaden their support

A family health issue required a missionary friend of mine to return to the States for several years. By using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), he had the same access to his mission agency’s computer network as he’d had when he was living on the Pacific Rim. He was able to continue his language support to the teammates he’d worked alongside on the field.

Digital technology has made it possible for missionaries to report needs and raise funds for special projects faster than ever before, since they can easily send photos and video updates to all of their supporters. With a decent Internet connection, these servants of Christ have access to supplies and resources of all kinds, both material and spiritual.

Power tools

To paraphrase the Apostle John, “Behold what manner of technology the Father has lavished upon us!” Now, as every missionary would attest, the power is not in the tools, but in God’s Spirit, and in our prayers for them. Yet when our prayers and God’s Spirit energize their use, these tools are mighty in the hands of Christ’s servants around the world.

How has your church equipped your missionaries with the technology they need?