How to use your app to prepare for the holidays

By Tobin Perry

Only two teams in the history of Major League Baseball have won at least 116 games: the 2001 Seattle Mariners and the 1906 Chicago Cubs. Both teams dominated the regular seasons, quickly dispatching with opponents through good pitching, timely hitting, and stellar defense.

But neither team won the World Series.

Effective baseball teams and effective churches have something in common: they excel when the stakes are highest.

For churches, that’s the holiday season. People are more interested in visiting your church during the holiday season than any other time of the year. You have to make that time count.

Mobile can help your church multiply its ministry effectiveness during this important upcoming holiday season. The people you want to reach already spend three hours of every day on their mobile devices. They’re on their phones even more during this season — balancing their calendars, purchasing gifts, and texting loved ones.

So, how can your church use mobile to be more effective during the holiday season?

These seven ideas will get you started:

#1: Make it easy for new people to download your app. You’ll likely have more guests during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Nothing will drive these new guests into engaging deeper with your congregation better than an effective mobile app strategy.

#2: You want to make it as easy as possible for new guests to get your app. That’s what makes a text-to-download feature so critical for you church. It allows guests to text a predetermined keyword to a specific number and receive a link to download the app. You could then put these very simple instructions on any of your holiday promotional items (invites, bulletins, etc.).

#3: Provide a mobile invite for people to invite friends and family. No amount of marketing your church will do over the holidays will beat word-of-mouth. A 2014 LifeWay Research study showed most people would be “very interested” in attending a worship service if invited by family, friends or neighbors. Your mobile app can be a great tool to help your people do this more effectively by allowing them to share information about your holiday services through your app.

Your church likely needs loads of new volunteers during the holiday season. You’ve got choirs to fill up, greeters to enlist, parking attendants to find, etc. Your mobile app should be a key part of your enlistment strategy.

#4: Get new people connected to church events. If your church is typical, you probably have more events during the holidays than any other time of the year — from

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special worship services, to cantatas, to New Year’s Eve watch parties.

Plus, your attendees have full schedules themselves during this season. It’s easy for your events to get lost in the mix.

An effective calendar that allows congregants to easily find events and register for them through your mobile app will help your church cut through the noise.

#5: Turn-year-end givers into mobile users. People love to donate in the last few weeks of the year in order to maximize their tax savings. Network for Good’s 2015 Digital Giving Index said that 11% of the annual giving of the 45,000 nonprofits surveyed came in the last three days of the year. Use all these additional gifts to drive people to your mobile app by following up the gifts (through either email or text, depending upon how the person gave) with an invitation to download it.

#6: Use notifications to enlist new volunteers. Your church likely needs loads of new volunteers during the holiday season. You’ve got choirs to fill up, greeters to enlist, parking attendants to find, etc.

Your mobile app should be a key part of your enlistment strategy. Use notifications to let church attendees know about the opportunities. Link those notifications to forms where volunteers can sign up to help from wherever they are.

#7: Create a mobile advent devotional to prepare your people for Christmas. It’s easy for even committed Christians to commercialize the holiday season and obscure the reason we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A scripture reading and short devotional thought from your pastors (or even lay leaders) can help people focus on what matters most during the season. Put the devotional on your app, and set a consistent mobile notification schedule to remind users of their presence.

For more information about how to develop a mobile strategy this holiday season, visit to schedule a demo.

Tobin Perry has written about ministry and church topics for Sa Church, Baptist Press, the North American Mission Board and more for almost 20 years. He and his family live in Evansville, Ind.


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