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The user experience is everything today. For a long time, church and technology seemed an unlikely pair. But this is changing now and religious organizations are fast catching up.

Making an investment in an app for churches is a big decision. We have been working alongside churches for more than seven years, helping them in their digital transformation. And the most important thing we always tell our potential customers is - don’t blindly follow trends, make informed decisions.

When considering whether to build your own church app, or not, make sure you have as much information as possible to make the right decision. This is actually the purpose of this blog. Let’s dive in.


What is a Church Management System and its Functions?

A church management system is a tool designed to help churches and religious organizations to handle their administrative tasks and organize their daily activities.  

Such solutions can have a wide range of built-in features such as managing membership databases, email and communication, worship presentation programs, donations, generating reports, sending notifications, and much more.

Church management software can be an online cloud-based platform or an on-premise system and can meet the needs of a church with a congregation of twenty people or thousands of them. The bigger the church is, the more pressing the need to develop its own church app is. 

Generally, the functions of ChMS can be summed up into four general categories:

#1 Streamlining Administrative Tasks

Like any other industry app, the primary function of the app for churches is streamlining and reducing the cost of daily routine operations such as service support, information exchange, reporting, etc.

#2 Tracking and Managing Resources

Improving financial management through accurately keeping a tab of donations and contributions and displaying all the financial information in reports is another key function of ChMS.

#3 Enhancing Communication

The church is built up by a large community of people united by faith. These are ministry leaders, members, staff, administrators, and more. With church management software, they can flawlessly communicate, exchange information, learn about news and updates, and share religious material.

#4 Monitoring Growth

ChMS allows to maintain and automatically update a database with all church members and prospecting for new members through different marketing channels.

Why Do You Need a Custom Church App?

The needs of every church are unique and it’s hard to find two churches that are completely the same. A good thing about ChMS is that it can be customized and scaled depending on the needs and church services of your ministry. Let’s have a look at the benefits ChMS can bring to your ministry.

benefits of Church Management Software

Cost & Time

Why spend money and time on printing out newsletters and sending emails to keep people informed about the latest happenings? Having a ministry app saves the church from all these hassles, as the admin can easily distribute all the necessary information online.


User Engagement

Mobile church solutions offer endless opportunities to keep your church members actively engaged. They can send prayer requests, chat with each other, discuss extracts from the Holy Bible, and have 24/7 access to audio sermons and other religious materials.


Secure Access

Church management apps run a centralized database that covers all member details, financial reports, records, and other important data that is securely stored, reducing exposure to fraud.


Integrated Accounting

Essential fiscal responsibility, unique church finances, payrolls, donations, and calculation of necessary taxes are tracked in real-time, easily reported, and reduce the number of errors caused by manual data input.


Event Management

Another advantage of implementing a religious app into your organization is easy event management. You can send push notifications to inform people about upcoming events, charity, or volunteering, create a registration and polls, monitor the feedback, exchange photos, and much more.

Main Features of a Church Mobile App

To create a church app, first of all, you should decide on what set of features it should have. Apps for ministry consist of three modules, which are: a user app, a church app, and an admin panel.

Main Features of a Church Mobile App

Let’s have a look at some basic church app features that every software usually has:

Media Library

A wide range of media resources can be integrated into your app. Users can read the Holy Bible, listen to audio sermons and podcasts, and watch videos from connected websites such as Youtube and Vimeo, etc.

Streaming

LiveStream or UStream allows you to conduct live broadcasts for those who cannot personally attend church events.

Push Notifications

Push notifications allow immediate delivery of important information and reminders to the church members. You can also adjust them depending on the GEO location of church app users.

News

By checking news feeds in a church mobile app, the parishioners stay up-to-date regarding the latest church events, volunteering opportunities, and charity programs.

Donations

Users can easily make donations to church by mobile through an online payment. They can also share the donation link on their social media.


Advanced Features

Cloud Storage Integration

Store user data with advanced privacy and security. Cloud computing solution is also required for live streaming.

Reporting & Analytics

Real-time analytics allows getting instant updates and analyses of all app data such as registered users, donations, the amount of time spent on particular content, etc.

GPS Integration

By identifying the current location of users, nearby churches can be displayed which is an essential feature for large churches.

Real-time Analytics

An advanced analytics feature allows users to monitor users’ behavior, track funds and donations, and enhance user experience.

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5 Widespread Mistakes Churches Make with Mobile Applications


# They Use Only One Platform

Before choosing the app platform, we recommend taking a poll of your church members. It’s very unlikely that your parishioners use only Android or iOS. Some of them may also use Windows phones. A lot of churches make a very big mistake in building an app exclusively for one operating system. This way, they leave an entire group of users behind. Though the number of Android users in the world is significantly higher than iOS users, it greatly depends on the location. If the development of two native apps is behind your budget, you can opt for a cross-platform solution that will reach users of different OS and is less expensive and time-consuming.


# Not Updating the Application

This is another common mistake regarding not only apps for church but all applications in general. As soon as an app is uploaded to app stores, the owner forgets about it. As new devices and new versions of operating systems are released, you must ensure that your application is compatible. Of course, it doesn’t mean adding new features to stay trendy, only those that are relevant to your app. What is more, we often see church websites and apps with interfaces that look like those from the 90s. Don’t forget to update your interface, make it load faster, and add new content.


# Information Overload

How to create a church app that no one will use? Stuff it with every existing feature and every piece of information you can fit in. Of course, the app will include all the possible information though it is impossible to navigate. Limit the information and features to those that are really necessary and relevant for your ministry. The more, the better is not about the apps. 


# Not Including Interactive Elements

You’ve built a church app that includes just a few screens that show details about your church. Why would the users install it if they can check the same information on your website? A ministry app must be interactive. Actually, it’s one of the main criteria for any app, otherwise, users just uninstall it. You can add a prayer feature so that people can upload prayer requests and respond to others, a chat, a photo gallery to share pics from different church events, a section to take notes, etc. Adding one or two interactive features will make your users come back and engage with your application.


# Your Application is the Same as Your Website

Probably, this is the worst mistake. The whole purpose of building an application is to be different from the website. Why would you invest big money just to have an app version of your website? Make it different, make it interactive, and engaging. Add these features that users can’t benefit from just by using your website like push notifications, for example. A website and app should complement each other but they definitely shouldn’t be the same.


How to Develop a Church App in a Few Steps

The process of building a church app, like any other app, is rather complicated and consists of several main phases. Therefore, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough business analysis before starting building an app for churches. inVerita business analysts help develop a business strategy for current and future market needs and present the stakeholders with a detailed SRS document that serves as a foundation for legal agreement and an effective software development life cycle. 

You can apply for a free consultation if you want to hire developers or build your own custom software solution.

So, here are 5 main software development steps in the project lifecycle:

main software development steps

Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is the initial stage in the development process during which the project team collects and analyzes the data to know the end user better, set a clear project vision, define its scope, goals, and eliminate possible risks. For some business owners, the discovery phase is a mystery. So, WHY do you need it to build a church app?

  1. To determine business goals and requirements, and sets project vision;
  2. To build product architecture tailored to your specific business needs;
  3. To mitigate the cost of development;
  4. To identify and eliminate possible risks;
  5. To design a clear software development roadmap.

UI/UX Design

The UI/UX design process makes a shift from general ideas to certain user interface elements and scenarios. This phase consists of several stages: design research, sketching, wireframing, visualization, and slicing.

The design phase also often includes the development of a prototype to visualize how the product is going to look to make the changes without rewriting the code. 

A tip from inVerita: don’t be afraid to make changes if needed, the earlier you introduce them, the faster and cheaper the development process will be.


Software Development

The most time-consuming is the actual development phase when business requirements and product specifications are turned into code. A Customer gets a statement of work (SOW) that includes all the information on the development process: schedules, payments, the amount of work that needs to be done in a certain timeframe, etc.

The entire development process is split into sprints, during which software developers build a previously-agreed part of the functionality. There are a variety of methodologies used by different companies at this phase. At inVerita, we prefer Agile methodologies, using the Scrum framework so that the development process stays flexible and our Customers can make changes anytime.


Quality Assurance

The quality assurance team tests a church application to detect any bugs, security, and user experience issues. If there are any bugs in your app for church, they’re sent to developers to be fixed. The QA phase usually consists of 6 main stages: requirement analysis, test planning, test case development, environment setup, test execution, and finally, test reporting.


Release

As soon as the final edits are done and pre-launch testing shows that the product is ready for deployment, it’s moved to production. But it doesn’t mean the development is over. The product needs to be constantly improved and updated. Most frequently, business owners sign an agreement which outlines what exactly should be maintained, liabilities, etc.

A tip from inVerita: Implement to your maintenance plan during all stages of development so you can make sure you don't miss anything to be updated, prevented, and adapted.

Note, outsourcing companies offer different types of cooperation models that suit projects with different timeframes, budgets, and set of features. The most widespread are:
cooperation models in IT outsourcing

You can also learn more about different types of outsourcing cooperation models here.


How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Church App?

So, how much does the church app cost? Custom church apps pricing varies depending on the set of features your application requires, integrations, design, and outsourcing destination you choose. Let’s review the main factors that define the church app pricing:


Choice of App Platform

The choice of app platform dictates everything about your home church app from the user interface and functionality to the cost of development. You can choose from native, cross-platform, and hybrid applications. Building two different native applications for iOS and Android could cost significantly more in comparison to a single cross-platform solution.


App Complexity

Applications are categorized based on their level of complexity such as simple, medium, and high-end. A church application with some basic features, as we mentioned above, may cost around $60k though if you want some advanced features, be ready to pay more than $100k.


App Development Team

When it comes to the size of the development team, usually, we’ll have at least four roles: a developer, a QA tester, a designer, and a project manager. However, depending on the size of the project, the roles of team members can be either expanded or new roles such as business analyst, for example, needed.

church management software cost

Location of Software Vendor

Depending on the location of the software vendor, the development cost greatly varies. Businesses from countries with high development costs such as the US, UK, Switzerland, etc., usually decide to outsource software development in offshore locations that offer the same quality of service but at a significantly lower price.

Here is an example of an average .NET developer’s salary based on the PayScale.

average developer salary

inVerita Expertise in Making Church Apps

MediaShout

We have successfully delivered apps for churches and religious communities, and MediaShout is one of them.

MediaShout is a fully customizable church presentation tool that has been present in the market for almost two decades. Our design, development, and testing teams had a task to totally re-imagine and re-build MediaShout v6. The Customer chose a staff augmentation model of cooperation and in almost 2 years of active improvements from both UI/UX and technology perspectives, our Customer received an in-depth product that is currently being used in 47 countries.


Popular Church App Examples

# Tithe.ly

Tithely

Tithe.ly is one of the most popular ready-made solutions for churches that is currently used in 50 countries. They offer a variety of off-the-shelf software such as church management software, websites, mobile applications, media and giving tools, and more. The software has a neat interface and includes a variety of features to keep the users engaged. For example, mobile applications include interactive social media and church content newsfeed, sermon notes, push notifications, on-tap mobile giving, and much more.

You can add your logo and brand colors to customize the home screen and menu so that the app matches the branding and style you have built.

Top Features:


  • Social media integration;
  • Personalized user profiles;
  • Blog, articles, and Bible studies integrations;
  • Popular photo and video sharing services integration;
  • Event calendar and church bulletin;
  • Prayer wall and Bible.

Pricing: an all-access plan costs $99/month with $149 as a setup fee. You can also choose access exclusively to a ChMS - $49/month, church apps - $59/month, and sites - $19/month (all of them require a setup fee).


# Aware 3

Aware3

Aware 3 is a pretty pricey platform that offers a range of ready-made solutions for churches which include admin tools and portal, a mobile application, text messaging, forms and registration giving. An interesting feature is that parishioners can personalize their app experience by creating dynamic profiles. For example, they can connect with groups or initiatives they like, choose their interests, and more. Aware 3 also allows adding customizable branding.

Top Features:

  • Push messages;
  • In-app member directory;
  • Access to playlists, podcasts, and sermon notes;
  • Live polling;
  • In-app chat;
  • Crowdfunding feature.

Pricing: Aware 3 offers three different plans: basic - $125/month or $1350/year, amplified - $220/month or $2376/year, premium - $275/month or $2970/year.


# Go Church App

GoChurchApp

Go Church App provides a platform for small and mid-sized churches with a subscription for 12 months. You receive access to the library to learn how to customize the app to your branding which unfortunately doesn’t always produce a great result. Then the app is submitted to Apple and Google Play app stores and get shareable links to download the application.

Top Features:


  • Video sharing and Youtube integration;
  • An online giving portal;
  • Calendar with events;
  • Push notifications.

Pricing: $57/month, plus, $997 one-time full setup fee.


# Secure Give

SecureGive

The Secure Give system has been in the market for 17 years already. The platform’s main purpose is to ensure sustainable giving growth through their own strategy and software. The software includes a wide variety of giving options so every person in the church chooses the one that is the most convenient for them. Some of them are: mobile and online giving, text to give, giving kiosks, check scanning with automatic deposits, etc.

Top Features:

  • Streaming sermons and media;
  • Multiple giving options;
  • Push notifications and location-based alerts;
  • Customizable design and style.

Pricing: Secure Give offers 3 pricing plans: basic - $99/month, enhanced - $149/month, premium - $199/month. 


Summing Up

Making a decision to create your own church app is a big step. And it’s not the right decision for every church. Small churches with a limited budget can benefit from ready-made solutions available in the market today and choose the one that has “the most needed” features for their ministry. On the other hand, for churches with large communities, more cost-effective and beneficial will be to build their own application tailored to their specific needs.

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