Blog Archives

Guest Post, Gathering the Flock into the Fold Digitally: 4 Mobile Apps for Christian Clergy by Jessica McMann

Having just acquired an iPad, Jessica’s post is apposite for me. I confess I’ve had this on the stocks for a couple of weeks, but we have had major problems with our main computer, so it has had to wait. I’m grateful to Jessica for offering this post, writing it and then being patient while our PC was repaired. – Dave

As with any facet in our modern, connected world, mobile technology can help immensely in bringing people together and helping us do our jobs. And church is no exception. Check out the following apps to help you craft effective sermons, connect with your congregation, and keep learning about the faith:

Yap Tap

Yap Tap is a communication application that helps pastors stay specifically in touch with their youth groups, although it can be used for a variety of church-related groups as well. It’s essentially a social media, text messaging, and email system all rolled into one. Everyone in your congregation or youth group has their own preferred communication method. With Yap Tap, you have complete control in terms of who, when, and how you send communications to your church. Yap Tap is especially helpful for clergy members who find it difficult to communicate with so many different online mediums available. [Editor’s note: in a British context, there might be child protection issues around using this app with a youth group. You may need to check your Safeguarding policies. – Dave]

Not Just Words

Crafting a sermon is difficult, especially when you can’t quite remember the Bible verses you’d like to incorporate. Not Just Words solves this problem immediately. It’s a mobile Bible search application that enables users to search any word or phrase, after which it will generate search results for related words and phrases. For example, if you search the word “speak” it will find verses that use related words like “uttered.” Not Just Words also enables users to search for themes in specific Bible books. If you’d like to find out what the Book of John says about faith, just search “faith in John,” and the tool pulls up all mentions of faith in the Book of John.

Pocket Prayer Pro (Lite)

There are quite a few prayer apps out there, but this one I found to be most useful. It’s a great tool to help you manage prayer requests and maintain a prayer journal. The app also features more than 100 sample prayers that you can bookmark for later use. This is a great one to suggest to members of your church for their own personal use as well.

Create your own App

The Church App is a mobile app platform that enables church leaders to create their own, customizable apps for their congregation. The Church App will build a mobile app for you that enables you to do a variety of things, like share sermons in audio or video, create events with maps, integrate giving, and empower your congregation to communicate.

Of course, these aren’t the only helpful apps out there for clergymen and women. But they’re definitely a great start in getting your church and congregation to be more connected. Good luck!

Jessica McMann is a freelance writer whose primary interest is Christian education. She enjoys writing about homeschooling, Christian universities, and learning through a Christ-focused community. Check out more of Jessica’s writing at ChristianColleges.com

The Methodist Church Is Smart On The Phone

Two years ago, the Methodist Church launched an iPhone app, with promises of similar apps to come for people who use a Blackberry, Windows Phone or (like me) an Android phone. Today, the new app lands! Twurch of England, take that! Come on you trendy Baptists, where are you?

Seriously, well done to our media team. This is one of the many areas where we need to be involved.

Digital Britain, Analogue Church

The Evangelical Alliance recently published some statistics about what it calls Digital Britain. They make fascinating reading. Here are some highlights. You won’t find all of it surprising, but what is clear is just how much our culture is shifting in a digital direction.

* There is a trend away from social letter-writing in favour of email, texting and IM. Only 10% of letters now delivered by the Royal Mail are now ‘social mail’. Although 72% of over-70s write such letters, it decreases to 47% of over-50s, and there is a 1-3% annual shift.

* The use of landline telephones is in sharp decline, too. In 2007, we spent only an average of 5 minutes a month making calls from fixed lines, but a staggering 136 minutes on mobiles. (I know, I find that hard to believe.) In a population of 60 million there are 74 million mobile phones in use (how many people really need more than one?) and 89% of over-14s have at least one.

* The use of email is increasing. Although it was falling out of favour with younger generations, who preferred texting, the arrival of smartphones such as the iPhone and the Blackberry have rejuvenated email among the young. Perhaps it is the mobility and that the common theme to texting and the increase again in email is the use of the mobile phone.

* Social networking is extraordinarily popular. 25% of British adults use social networking sites – a higher percentage than the Germans, French and Italians.

* Yet it’s not an interest in technology per se that is driving these increases, at least among the young. Rather, it seems they use technology to continue doing the things they were always doing: listening to music, watching TV or films, and contacting friends. Technology becomes a supplementary way of carrying out these activities, not a replacement.

The contrast with anecdotal evidence in the typical traditional church is huge. You can’t send an email late at night to someone if you suddenly think of something, because they may not be online. They might have a mobile phone, but they may not use it often, so texting is less viable, too. As for a church website, well that’s nice and they may want the church to have one but it won’t be any practical use for them, even if they realise it is a good way of getting known today.

That we do certain things differently in the church is, in my opinion, both partly right and partly wrong. It is partly right because we need to minister to and with the digital poor. Sorry if that’s an ugly or patronising expression, I don’t mean it to be, but I need to make a contrast with the digital natives and digital immigrants who are comfortable learning and using new technology.

Yet it is also partly wrong, because it concentrates on maintenance rather than mission. It preserves existing ways but does not pioneer the Gospel into the ways in which our culture is developing. Therefore the church needs continually to find new ways into the digital culture.

In one respect, such a missionary thrust is tailored to introverts like me, who by nature are drawn to the written (or typed) word. Past models of evangelism have been throughly based around extraverted approaches – think about how the word ‘evangelism’ is conceived by many Christians and they think of crusade meetings and door-to-door work. I mean no disparagement of them, nor of the many other gifts extraverts offer, but might it just be that introverts could be on the cutting edge of new approaches to mission?

If so, that will mean a complete rethink of some of the attitudes and prejudices that prevail in many churches, alongside the ‘big ask’ of adjusting to the new digital culture.