Parish Apps – Yes, there is now an App for That

app-4-that“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.

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Author:Joe Luedtke

Joe Luedtke is the Chief Operating Officer for Liturgical Publications (LPi). Joe specializes in Social Media and Web 2.0 and is currently leading LPi’s efforts to move into the on-line world. Joe works for the world's largest and oldest social network, religion, and believes that this social network could benefit tremendously from the the proper use of Internet technologies.
  • Tom Lelyo

    Great points regarding “When you should get an app”. A few clarifications regarding myParish (as an admin/end user):

    1) In terms of design flexibility/branding: each parish has their own app wallpaper professionally branded by myParish in terms of color & a photo of their community. The app icon remains “myParish”, but otherwise the experience can most definitely be considered “branded”.

    2) Regarding a parish directory, you can use the “Church info” module to list any contact information you want. We have chosen to use this to list both staff and ministry contact info. (I believe they are also working on a solution that will make this separation easier to navigate instead of just a long categorized list).

    3) There IS Social Media integration including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and 3rd party websites. This integration extends to linking people to parish social media accounts via the parish info page, AND allows users to share blog/rss posts via social media

    4) One feature that was missing is the fact that the latest update of the myParish app brought with it a “World News” module. This now enables users to access BOTH Parish “News” via RSS and C.N.A. “World News”.

    We’ve been using myParish for about a year now and love it. You are absolutely correct when you point out that it boosts active parishioner engagement vs creating activity from scratch. Thanks for the post.

    • http://www.catholictechtalk.com/ Joe Luedtke

      Tom, Thanks for clarification and additional detail. Much appreciated!

  • Michael Tigue

    It might be better to call myParish App and One Parish general apps that are shared by the parishes that use them. There is only one generic app that has parish info “listed” in the app once you search for and log in to your parish.

    I’m not familiar with Vibrant Parish App , but with the Parish Solutions Company app you receive a real app for your parish. Your parish name is in the app store and under the app icon. The app icon is your logo and all the screenshots and info in the app store are for your parish. The app is truly a native app for your parish. This makes promoting your app much easier as you can direct people to search for “St. Therese Catholic Church – your city, state” instead of saying “Download the One Parish App” and then search for our parish.

  • Michael Tigue

    Also…just realized…Parish Solutions company can easily integrate Catholic talk radio so that box should be checked. In addition. Parish Solutions Company app has a robust form building tool with payment integrations. And, it can have a QR scanner and Voice recording…so those boxes probably need to be checked too. Thanks so much.

  • http://waiting4patience.blogspot.com/ Katie Herzing

    This is great information – thank you for compiling. Can you comment on any use of Catholic Parish Apps who has recently joined with OSV? It is a customized app unique to the parish – would be great to see how it’s features stack up to the others you have showcased as an option for Churches.