How to Revamp Your App for Fall

Don’t look now, but the season of colorful leaves, chilly mornings, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes is right around the corner. We’re trying not to think about that too much (it’s tough to beat summer in the Pacific Northwest), but the reality is that fall is fast approaching us. If you are a pastor or church leader, then chances are you are probably in the thick of ramping up for fall. And you should be - fall is a great time of year to launch new initiatives in your church. With the school year starting and summer vacations coming to a close, many people are looking to settle down and start new habits for the next handful of months. Your app can actually play a huge role in helping your church launch new fall initiatives. Let’s take a look at how you can capitalize on welcoming visitors, launching new small groups, and encouraging giving this fall:

 

Welcoming new visitors

With people settling in after summer vacations, you can probably expect to see some new visitors on Sunday mornings this fall. Hopefully your pastors and greeting team are on top of connecting with visitors, but even with the best plan and intentions, some new people may fall through the cracks. Getting your app in the hands of these visitors can help them take next steps in getting connected to your church. Here are a few things to make visible in your app that can help new visitors feel welcome:

  • Connect card

  • Children’s ministry information/check in

  • Church doctrine

  • Welcome video

 

The goal here is to provide relevant information with actionable steps in a welcoming manor. To see an example of a church that is knocking it out of the park with this, check out our friends at South Community Church in Oklahoma.

 

Promoting small groups

Small groups play a key role in discipleship, accountability, and fostering community. Your church probably has some form of small groups already set up, and fall is a great time to get people connected to those groups. Your app can play a huge role in facilitating this. Most churches like to put a plug for small groups in their Sunday service, and often times, that plug is usually made in conjunction with a slide that says something like this:

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this method. First, it is not an immediately actionable item. This requires everyone to go home, get on their computer, and remember all of these steps. The likelihood of someone remembering all of that (especially after grabbing post-church lunch with friends or taking the kids to the playground) is pretty slim. Additionally, this process could take a long time. Many people (especially millennials) will probably view these “four easy steps” as four difficult barriers. This is where your app can come to the rescue. By putting all of your small group information in the app, your congregation can take action immediately. Your pastor can even walk everyone through how to download the app and sign up for a small group while on stage. Boom. Now everyone knows how to join a group and has the opportunity to get connected right from their seat in church.

 

Encouraging generosity

Has your church seen a dip in giving over the summer months? If you have, don’t fret! The work you do this fall can set you up for long-term success, even into next summer. Just like serving in the church and getting connected to a small group, giving is a part of discipleship. Empowering your congregation to be generous helps them participate in this act of discipleship, and it helps your church plan for the future. One way to empower your congregation to be generous is simply by providing them with a simple, easy to use platform for mobile giving. The churches we work with that encourage mobile giving typically see at least a 5% increase in generosity, with many even surpassing 10%. You can place a “give” button anywhere in your app, so people who are watching sermons, reading new material, or signing up for small groups have the opportunity to give right there. Another way to encourage generosity is by promoting recurring gifts. A recurring gift takes away the potential for someone to forget their tithe (we’ve all been there), and also provides your church with a clearer financial forecast. Pro tip: Save your church money by encouraging recurring gifts via bank transfer instead of credit/debit card….bank transfers cost a fraction of the processing fees for cards!

One thing we want to make clear is that your app is not a silver bullet. We like to say around here that the app does not replace relational discipleship, but it helps facilitate it. These tips do not replace all of your technology, nor do they replace the relational work your team is doing on a daily basis. But the app can certainly help make those things easier and remove some technological barriers for your congregation. If you would like some more tips about ramping your app up for the fall, we would love to help you. Our team of Client Success Managers can work with you one on one to develop a strategy that is tailored to your ministry. Feel free to give us a call at 206-965-8090.

Harvest: To the Ends of the Earth

Sunshine? Check. Tacos? Check. Awesome people who love Jesus? Check. All of these things were present during our trip to visit our friends at Harvest. You may be familiar with Harvest because of their crusades, which have reached millions of people all over the world with the gospel. We love hearing how God is using Pastor Greg and the rest of the Harvest team to reach the ends of the earth, but Harvest isn’t focused solely on crusades. During our conversation with their team, it was apparent to us that Harvest has a strong heart for the local church as well. In fact, the success of Harvest Crusades would be impossible without a) the power of Jesus (duh!) and b) the help of local churches.

If you aren’t familiar with Harvest Crusades, they are essentially large-scale events held at stadiums around North America that feature worship music from popular artists, a clear, gospel-centered message from Pastor Greg Laurie, and an invitation to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. After the message, Pastor Greg invites those who have made a profession of faith to come down from their seats to receive prayer. Since the inception of Harvest Crusades in 1990, almost 500,000 people have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. So awesome, right?! But what happens to those people after the event?

This is where the local church comes into play. In addition to putting on huge crusades, Harvest also is a local church, with congregation spread throughout Southern California and Hawaii. On top of that, Harvest also teams up with local churches in each city where a crusade is hosted to follow up with new believers after they have received Christ. Once a person comes to the front of the stage after making a profession of faith, they are connected with a Decision Follow-Up worker who prays with them and gives them a free Bible. The Follow-Up worker documents that person’s decision to follow Christ, and at the end of the evening, that documentation is shared with local churches that Harvest partners with. Each local church connects with the new believers within 48 hours, giving them information about how to learn more about Jesus and how to get connected to a local congregation.

We love the work that Harvest is doing and we are super thankful for our partnership with Pastor Greg and their team. Check out this video to learn more about what Harvest does and their heart for reaching the ends of the earth with the good news of Jesus:

Introducing Subsplash Notes

One of the most powerful ways that your community engages with your content is by taking notes during the church service each week. We’ve sought to make the note-taking process easier than ever with our latest feature, Subsplash Notes. Our team has been working hard on this feature, and it lays the groundwork for many additional features we will be adding to our platform in the future. Check out this video and read below to learn more about Subsplash Notes:


What is Subsplash Notes?

Subsplash Notes acts as a digital journal. To access Notes, all users have to do is pull up a media item and simply take a note. These notes will automatically sync across all devices, so a note that is taken at church on Sunday will also show up on that user’s tablet when they get home. Notes are stored in the app side menu, so users will never have to worry about losing them again, even when they purchase a new device! Additionally, each note is attached to the corresponding media item, so users can easily access their notes in the future.

 

How is Subsplash Notes different from Fill in Notes?

You may already be using the Fill in Notes tool to build outlines and digital bulletins for your Sunday services. Subsplash Notes is different in that it provides a free-form digital journal for your users. With this feature enabled, the option to take a note will automatically show up on each new media item, so you won’t have to put any work into creating a note each week. Subsplash Notes will not replace Fill in Notes. Both features will be available to your ministry to use in conjunction with one another.

 

When will my church get Subsplash Notes?

We are in the process of adding Subsplash Notes to every single app on our platform! You can expect to see Notes available in your app over the coming weeks. If you have any questions about how to best utilize Subsplash Notes, you can reach out to your Client Success Manager or give us a call at 206-965-8090.

Engaged Communities are Giving Communities

Barna recently published a new report that explored how Christians are (or in some cases, are not) being generous with their money. The results were fascinating….over 30% of Christians identified as self-focused in their financial priorities. When it comes to generosity, Barna identified two main types of Christians: ”Givers” and “Keepers”. The report dives into the motivations behind financial decisions for each group. Check it out here and see if you find any parallels in your local congregation.

 

What does it mean?

Engaged communities lead to generous communities. For us, that was the main takeaway from Barna’s report. It can be easy for many church leaders to simply encourage “good habits” when it comes to generosity. We look at the numbers and think of ways we can get more people to check off the box for generosity. Maybe we even start a financial campaign or implement a new giving system. Those things aren’t bad. In fact, they are necessary. But Christ-centered generosity is not simply a good habit or something that happens only with the right amount of prodding or when the right tools are in place. It is a response to the overwhelming generosity that we’ve experienced from Jesus.

 

What can you do?

Bad news: if you are a pastor, you can’t really change someone’s heart when it comes to generosity. Good news: Jesus can absolutely do that. Instead of just simply asking people to consider giving more to the church or looking for “new” ways to boost generosity, spend more time developing holistic disciples in your church. People are going to be less likely to give when they are not engaged in the life of your church, and especially less likely to give when they are not engaged in the gospel. Cultivating a welcoming atmosphere and teaching a biblical theology of generosity (we wrote more about that here) will do way more for developing a generous people than just encouraging good habits.

 

David Kinneman, president of Barna Group, says, “So often we focus on cultivating generous habits rather than on making generous disciples….when we attend to the condition of our minds, hearts and souls, the limits of our generosity are stretched and our giving capabilities strengthened.” We couldn’t agree more. Let’s focus on making generous disciples!  

Saddleback Church: Innovating for Jesus

We recently got back from sunny Southern California, where we spent time hanging out with some of the awesome ministries we get to serve. One of those ministries was our friends at Saddleback Church. Saddleback was actually one of the first churches to adopt the Subsplash Platform back in 2009, and they've been leading the charge when it comes to innovation ever since. Millions of people from all around the world have been able to hear the good news of Jesus through Saddleback's app. But the app isn't the only way they are engaging with people. Check out our interview with Haley, Saddleback's Social Media Manager, to learn more about how they are planting churches all around the world, tackling mental illness, and empowering their local congregation to lead one of their 500 ministries in Southern California and beyond.