LifeWay Christian Resources knows that digital technology can be a blessing to churches who use it to stay in touch with their congregations and local communities, which is why they have teamed up with ROAR, a mobile application developer, to develop mobile applications at no charge for 1,000 churches this Christmas season.
"Our whole goal is to resource as many churches as possible, especially with this technology because as the digital world is ever changing ... it really presents us with a very rare opportunity to not only serve the church but outfit them with technology,” Matt Morris, project manager for Digital Church at LifeWay, told The Christian Post on Tuesday.
Morris says the free app promotion is a great opportunity for churches, especially small ones, to take advantage of technology which they might not otherwise be able to afford.
"We can collect all of the content on a church's website and from other pages – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, iTunes – and package it together in an app so people can find it all in one place on their phone," said Matt McKee, president of ROAR.
McKee says it can cost churches around $1,500 to have mobile apps developed for use on both the iPhone/iPad and Android platforms. ROAR will be developing the apps for free, however, and discounted monthly hosting fees will also be made available to the churches who take advantage of the offer.
According to Morris, there are a number of practical ways for churches to make the most of their own mobile applications.
"Churches can upload audio sermons as podcasts, post calendar events and event details, upload photos from church events or mission trips, create separate pages for separate ministries and allow people to donate to the church from their mobile devices," he said.
According to a study released by Pew Research Center in July, nine out of 10 smartphone owners access the Internet or email through their mobile device, and two-thirds of them do so daily. Another Pew study, released Nov. 2, found that half of adult cell phone owners have apps on their phones.
"As the number of smartphone users continues to increase, churches can't deny that communicating through a church app connects with people on-the-go," said Morris.
Just five hours after LifeWay announced the free app development offer, 25 churches had already signed up to receive it. Morris says he isn't sure exactly how quickly the free apps will go, however, and also seemed unsure as to whether or not this would be a one-time offer.
"If I'm a church, I would definitely have a sense of urgency about that because once they're gone, they're gone," he said.
Interested churches can find more information about the offer on ROAR's website.