Did you know that smartphones and tablets now account for more than 50 percent of global consumer electronics sales? Mobile technology is quickly making desktops and laptops seem obsolete. When things are moving this fast, how are church leaders supposed to respond and keep up?
Many churches today are rushing to implement a mobile tool but missing the chance to answer how this tool can help them engage people and make more disciples. No one wants to be left out; I get that. Church leaders know that “we need an app!” but, in most cases, they are just throwing ideas out there with little or no thought to what they hope will happen as a result. In short, the church is in the middle of a mobile free-for-all. But like any other technology tool, mobile is not a silver bullet. You must be intentional about fully leveraging it. It has to be deployed within the confines of effective strategy and processes.
Think of mobile as the new ‘welcome center’ for your church. You know intuitively that many people will take a long time to get comfortable enough to show up at ‘Guest Central’. Some people won’t ever show up! Mobile apps like Aware3 allow these people to connect with your church on their terms, without awkwardness. Your mobile app can be your digital front door.
Here’s a few practical ways your church can apply the idea of an app being the welcome center into your ministry:
- Identify your most critical ‘wins’. Much like an overly complex website, a chaotic and unfocused mobile strategy can actually confuse people and drive them away. It is super important to define a small set (three to five, max) of outcomes or ‘wins’ you want from your mobile strategy. What do you hope will be different and how will you know it’s happening?
- Segment your strategy for congregants and leaders. Church visitors and members have different needs. As a visitor, I want to learn more about the church and connect in a safe and gradual way. As a leader, I need tools that can help me steward the people I lead. This is why the integration between tools like Church Community Builder and Aware3 is so powerful. Church Community Builder can focus on mobile capability that empowers the leaders in your church, while Aware3 provides the congregational experience. The combination of those two core competencies provides a very focused and intentional set of tools for two very different users.
- Secure staff buy-in and commitment. Nothing kills effective strategy faster than a lack of staff buy-in and commitment to stick with it. This starts with the people who lead the vision, direction, and strategy of your church. They must become ‘evangelists’ for your approach and model the right behaviors. Next, it has to be clear to everyone on staff that ‘going rogue’ will not be tolerated. The first time someone decides to use a new mobile app or tool that falls outside your defined set of systems and processes, you must redirect them. It’s okay, however, to explore why they feel compelled to do something different. This will help you learn and adapt.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! This may seem obvious, but regular and consistent communication must become part of your strategy. Too often I see churches that communicate very well at the launch of a new strategy and totally ignore it six months later. Strategy leaks, just like vision does. Make sure you constantly remind staff, leaders, members, and visitors about the presence of your mobile strategy and its purpose.
Don’t buy into the myth that “if you build it, they will come.” Mobile apps can be very powerful, but only when you deploy them inside of a purposeful strategy.
Have you been considering an app? Do you have one in place yet?