Software is our thing - so believe us when we say we know it can get expensive, especially if you’re just starting out and you’re not sure what direction you want to go to; add that to the reality that most small businesses can struggle to come up with the money for custom software right at the start, and you’ve got the reason why out-of-the-box software remains popular.
Is it good? Some of it is, and we put together a list of church tech that you can’t really go wrong with trying out if you’re a small church just trying to update the way you work for the future.
Let’s start from the basics.
There’s nothing wrong with starting out with stock or out-of-the-box apps if you’re just trying to see if technology is for you; in fact, you can get a better idea of what you need if you’ve already tried out some of the products available on the market.
Here are a few ones we suggest looking into if you’re at the stage where you want to expand into software for your small church.
Nearly every business has an app these days, and honestly, your church should too: apps are portable, easy to customise, and super easy to install on any kind of phone or tablet. With COVID-19 still keeping people in their homes, an app is also a great way to make sure that your congregation knows when and where the next service will be, and to access content that they might not be able to get otherwise, such as sermons and devotionals.
For church app builders, we recommend:
Subsplash - $499 set up fee + $99/mo
It’s pricey, but Subsplash’s church app service and its customer service is one of the best in the market, so if you’ve got the money to afford it, this is the one we’d go for. You can keep your sermons and notes all in one place, and it also has a nice section where you can upload events and updates. There’s also an add-on that you can include that will let your congregation donate to your church.
Custom Church Apps - $29.95 - $59.95/mo
Another Subsplash product, Custom Church Apps puts in a lot of effort in engagement - and connection. With in-app messaging, a dedicated video section, and events, maps, and locations as well as a Bible pre-loaded into the app, it’s easy to pick and choose what you want your app to be like. Their app page builder is great for small churches who want to still try for budget, but are also interested in stretching the possibilities of customisation.
Go Church App - free set up + $50/month
One of the cheaper options on the list, Go Church is a good starting point for churches who just want to get connected fast. It comes with push notifications, an events calendar, a video section and an online giving portal to help small churches get connected, and it’s been designed by people in ministry. For a church app, you really can’t go wrong with that.
Aware3 Church Mobile App - $99/mo
One of the biggest benefits of this app is that you can customise your app listing to show your church’s name, which makes it easier for your congregation to find it. Every aspect of the app itself is easy to configure and customise, and the features that it packs in are great for the price: a member directory, profiles, push notifications, events, volunteer section - it’s great for slightly bigger or more active churches who need a detailed app that can take care of the organising for them.
MinistryOne - $39/mo
Another affordable option, MinistryOne is designed to keep your congregation engaged throughout the week though a regulated schedule of multimedia, events, and prayer. It can integrate sermons and prayer requests into the app itself for on-demand viewing, and push notifications make sharing news far easier.
Every church relies on donations, no matter how big, and there’s apps that can make sure that your members can still donate to you even if they’re not physically on the premises.
Tithe.ly - $149 setup fee + $99/mo
Tithe.ly makes donations far easier and streamlined by having up to six different ways of donating, daily deposits, and in-depth reports. Congregants can also set up an auto-recurring payment and even change their donation to cover the processing fees and make sure your church gets 100% of the donation instead of a percentage of it.
Pushypay - $200/mo
Pushpay actually has its own dedicated church app, but if you’re just looking for a giving app and a light church management module, Pushpay is excellent value for money. It’s simple to use, so the older members of your congregation won’t struggle, and supports multiple languages and giving options, including online, via mobile browser, or through text.
While the apps we’ve mentioned above are great for giving and for an all-in-one option, sometimes you need something a little more on the management side, with an excellent streaming service, or just something a little different. Here are those options for you.
Church Centre - free with a Planning Centre subscription
This one is great to just keep track of your congregation and make sure they know exactly when the next service is going to be and if they can attend. The dedicated check-ins, groups, and registration modules of the Planning Centre app are a good choice for small churches who just want to loosely keep track of their congregation’s events.
Church Online platform - free
Some churches have gone entirely online, and we think that’s an excellent way to actually engage with attendees in remote areas or who don’t have the mobility to travel to your church location. To benefit that, the church online platform was made to facilitate easier attendance and connection. It also integrates an excellent video and live service module, and the best of it all: it’s free!
Realm - from $47/mo
Realm is a church management service that connects pastors, staff, and congregation together to create a seamless experience. You can connect with your congregation remotely, and it has in-built communication tools that helps pastors with the most vulnerable of the community. It also comes with a giving module and is really user-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about your congregation not being able to get used to it.
To start out with tech, any out of the box solution works, but what we can tell you is that eventually you will likely want to branch out into custom software. That said, out of the box solutions are still good: they tell you what you want out of your app, and they can really highlight what you can communicate to your custom software company to create an app that does what you want it to at a better price in the long-run.