We built and have promoted the use of texting in church for a very long time. There are things we do with Text-to-Church that are amazing.
But, for many months now we've been working on a "not so" top secret project that is ready to launch next week, our brand new - MEMBER APP. It is designed to give your church members and regular attenders easy, contemporary access to everything they need.
We plan to release it next Monday night, then Tuesday morning send you an email introducing the app with a list of specific features and an introductory video that will demonstrate the User Experience. We will also release Knowledge Base articles for customizing what groups, events, and resources are included in the app. In addition, we are going to offer a couple of Zoom webinars with our team to overview and discuss it live.
In preparation for that, here are answers to 6 questions behind our vision for this latest, very exciting upgrade.
- Will it be a native app and not just a saved link? Yes! We're using a new technology called Progressive Web Apps. When people install the app it will show up on their device's app list, tray, and launcher. It is identified by the CT icon. It offers a distinct, full page user experience.
- Will pastors and staff use it, or just members? Staff are members too, so they will use it as church members. But, it does provide very convenient access to follow up tasks / notes that are often more staff-centric. Also, there will be a login for staff to access the full database as normal.
- Can it replace our church app? It depends on the purpose of your church app. If you want something for check-in, volunteers, events, groups, giving, and notifications management, we have you covered. There's even a section for resources with titles, links, and descriptions that redirect members to your website or any other web-based service you have (ex. messages archive, live stream, newsletters, directory, Right Now Media, You Version Bible). Check it out next week and you decide.
- How does it relate to Text-to-Church? It is the PERFECT complement to Text-to-Church. There's a group of your people who will love an app. Generally these are your key leaders and volunteers. There's another group that is not as committed to your church and aren't ready to add another app to their phone. And, there's a last group that really struggle with using technology. All three of these groups, however, use text. The last two groups will continue to prefer to use text to interact with your church. The two-way chat feature of text is unique to texting and works nicely with workflows.
- How will people install it? The beauty of progressive web apps is that regular attenders and members install the app natively from within the app itself. The main way they get into the app to install it will be by texting "Me" to your Text-to-Church number, or by responding to a modified Email Request For Updated Information (more on that to come). But they will also be able to install it when when they respond to a volunteer invitation or reminder, and when they login to the activity section of online giving. The Churchteams Member App will not be housed in the App or Google Play stores.
- How much will it cost? It will be included with all our accounts as part of the "starter package". Adding our normal Text-to-Church and Online Giving options will significantly enhance the possibilities of the App, but there is no additional cost for it.
We are calling ours a MEMBER APP because it is designed to enhance the experience of the people that are most committed to your church. Regular attenders and members are the ones eager for the convenience of an app to check-in, give, schedule, sign up, and access resources.
We don't see this App as an outreach or guest tool. I've blogged a lot about how we use digital connection cards, registrations, email and text templates, workflows, and scheduled reports along with your website to address that ministry objective.
Here is an illustration of how we see people using your Website, Text-to-Church, and the Member App based on their level of involvement.
We think the community and guests will primarily look for information about your church on your website. Their first few times coming they might use Text-to-Church as an easy way to give or fill out a connection card. As they become more regular, they already know how to text and it's easy to use. Some will continue using text as they become fully involved in your church. But, the more committed they become as members and the more they interact with Churchteams, the more likely they will download the Member App.