Church App Platforms vs. Custom Church Apps

Churches are constantly looking to find new ways to connect with their congregation and increase communication with them. Chances are if you’re here, you are interested in getting a church app solution for your congregation. The app industry is constantly growing, and there are always two options: pay for a custom, branded church app, or choose an app platform that offers a pre-built, ready to go experience.

Custom branded church apps

A custom branded church app is developed just for your church. You will pay a developer to make the app to your specifications, leaving you responsible for the entire cost of development.

Pros

  • Custom church apps are made just for you, so you have the opportunity to play a role in the design of the app. You can determine the exact layout you want and find a developer to make it possible.
  • Custom church apps are optimal for branding, making sure your church name and logo are on the user’s home screen. This is essentially creating an “ad” for your church right on the user’s apps screen.

Cons

  • Developing an app is expensive. With custom church apps, you’ll have to pay a setup fee and many options require maintenance contracts.
  • Maintenance costs are required, and you’ll also have to pay for the app to be re-designed as technology changes and user interfaces evolve.

Custom church apps are great if you want a completely custom experience, but they come at a high cost.

App platforms

Church app platforms take a different approach: they have already invested in research and development so you don’t have to. Instead, you pay an affordable subscription fee to join and be part of the platform.

Pros

  • App platforms are highly affordable. Some are available for a low monthly cost and do not have setup fees.
  • App platforms have powerful features that would be expensive to create in a custom church app. Features such as interactive fill-in-the-blank notes, events with responses, and connection cards all work directly in the app with no links or other services.
  • App platforms are updated constantly, being optimized for new iOS and Android versions as they are released. Additionally, app platforms are constantly thinking about new, innovative features to bring to your church experience.
  • App platforms are familiar. When new members join your church, they will already be familiar with app platforms they used at previous churches, and the transition is seamless. Notes taken on app platforms will stick with the user forever in their personal notes section, even if they move and have to change churches.

Cons

  • App platforms feature “semi-branding,” meaning your church name and logo will appear when the user launches the app, but your church’s logo and name will not appear on the app icon. Instead, it will be the app platform’s branding.
  • If there are features you want missing in a particular app platform, you have to submit your idea to their development team and wait patiently for their decision to implement it. There are no guarantees that the feature you want will get added, so you have to live with their current feature set.

App platforms are a fantastic option if you are looking for an intuitive, affordable app experience for your congregation regardless of your church size.

Which solution is right for you?

There are pros and cons to both solutions, so it’s important to ask yourself which option is right for you. Giant mega-churches may choose a custom app for branding purposes. Small and large churches might be more likely to choose an app platform to get the best value for their money. You also have to ask yourself, are you in the business of app development or the business of ministry? App platforms can take the weight off of managing a custom app and give you more time to focus on your ministry.

If you are considering an app platform, consider My Sermon Notes. Our platform offers features like fill-in-the-blank notes, interactive prayer requests, customizable connection cards, events with responses, ministry team management, and more. If you decide that an app platform is right for your church, get our 30-day free trial here.

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The Best Church Website Solution

Having a modern and attractive church website is critical to gain new church members and give resources to current members. With so many options out there, what is the best church website solution?

There is not a “one size fits all” solution for every church, but there are plenty of great options to choose from. Here are three excellent options for your church website.

WordPress

WordPress is responsible for powering approximately 27% of the internet. For that reason, it should be no surprise that WordPress is naturally one of the most popular choices for church websites. It’s affordable, flexible, and widely used so you won’t have trouble finding a WordPress expert to help set up your website. On the flip side, WordPress is often intimidating to manage and is susceptible to security issues. These security issues can be fixed by someone who sets up a proper security system, but it is something to keep in mind when choosing the best solution for your church. Web hosting through Namecheap will cost you around $30 per year. You will also need a domain name and a WordPress theme (a theme can be purchased for a one time cost of $60-80), so this solution will cost $60-80 upfront and $40 per year all inclusive. This doesn’t figure in the cost of hiring a WordPress expert, but a tech-savvy church member or staff member may be able to set this up for you.

WordPress Pros

  • Affordable
  • Flexible
  • Widely used (plenty of support resources available)

WordPress Cons

  • Intimidating admin dashboard
  • Known security flaws (which can be fixed with a proper security solution)

Squarespace

Squarespace is perhaps the exact opposite of WordPress in description: it’s easy to use, easy to edit, but not the most affordable option. For $144-216 per year, Squarespace offers a drag-and-drop website builder that is one of the best options on the market for the average user. It won’t be as flexible as WordPress, but unless you like cracking into a website’s code, you won’t notice its limitations. Squarespace allows you to create pages, blog posts, and contact forms with ease. All websites are mobile friendly and Squarespace’s large portfolio of easy to modify themes will make the website creation process a breeze.

Squarespace Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to set up
  • Carefree

Squarespace Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not as flexible as WordPress

Wix

Wix is another platform that is similar to Squarespace, but it is another option to check out if you aren’t sold on Squarespace. Wix is available for $14 per month ($168 per year) and offers a similar drag-and-drop experience to Squarespace. These two platforms are similar in functionality, so it comes down to personal preference. They both offer a free trial so you can try both of them out before deciding on which one is right for you.

Wix Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to set up
  • Carefree

Wix Cons

  • Expensive with many upsells and different plans
  • Not as flexible as WordPress

Finding an expert may be worth it

Finding a local web designer might be a good call to make sure your church gets the website it deserves. You can also explore sites like Freelancer to post job requirements and capable freelance web designers will submit bids and allow you to pick the right person for the job.

But what about a church app?

Having a modern website is important, but what about a church app? My Sermon Notes is the only church app you need. We draw communities closer to Christ by increasing communication with your congregation. From fill-in-the-blank notes, to interactive prayer requests, to customizable connection cards, My Sermon Notes has the tools you need. My  Sermon Notes has no setup fees, no contracts, and is available for an affordable monthly cost. Learn more here.

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