“There’s an App For That” is a phrase now embedded in our modern lexicon that has finally come to our local parishes. Over the past year a few Catholic Parish apps have emerged on the market that has caused quite a bit of excitement within many parishes.
I was initially somewhat skeptical of the value of an App for the average parish. Creating and maintaining accurate and timely content on a parish website alone is still a challenge for far too many churches. The idea of maintaining updated content on a bulletin, website, and now an app seemed like a little too much for many parishes to handle.
Nonetheless, many churches are very excited about the idea of getting an App and I’ve seen some very good implementations done by some parishes.
Before you jump on the App bandwagon, however, I’d recommend a few guidelines to consider:
1. If your website doesn’t have updated and accurate content, please work on this first before looking at Apps. It’s important to note that a website can be both a marketing (for new members) and engagement (for existing members) tool, but an App is really only an engagement tool.
2. If you don’t already have a large set of engaged parishioners, don’t bother with an App (at least not yet). Remember, it’s primarily an engagement tool, not a marketing tool. So while an App has the potential to increase engagement among active members, it probably won’t turn an inactive member into an active one.
3. If your parish website isn’t accessible on mobile devices and hasn’t passed Google’s mobile test site, focus on that first. It’s more important to be accessible to everyone interested in your parish–parishioners and visitors. By giving everyone equal access, you can then help grow your group of engaged members and use your website and bulletin as tools to encourage them to download the App and get started. This frontline of communication is crucial to the success of any App.
I’ve identified four App vendors that now offer an App for Catholic Parishes on both the Apple and Android platform. These vendors are:
Below is a feature and functionality comparison chart. Note, this data is taken from the vendors’ own websites. Validation and testing of these features has not been performed.
If you’re interested in learning more about these Apps, contact the vendors listed above. You can also try them out by searching for their names in the App Store of your phone. Just search for “Liturgical Publications”, “MyParish App”, or “OneParish” to see the apps they currently have available. For Parish Solutions, you will have to search “Web4u Corporation” and scroll to find an individual church. Even if you’re not a member of a church, you can install the App on your phone and check it out. All these Apps are, of course, free to parishioners.