Church Apps: Branded, Container, & Feature

Here’s the difference between them and why one reigns supreme.

Church apps. You know you need one, but there are so many to choose from. Where do you even start? What’s the difference between them all? What’s the best one for your church? All great questions! Before we get into the answers, think about what you’re really looking for from a church app. Sure, they’re cool and trendy, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nailing down problems you’d like to solve or opportunities you’d like an app to help you create, will enable you to choose the app that’s best for you.

It’s also important to get creative with the where and how. Here’s a few things you may want from your app:

  • Communicate with your members more effectively
  • One simple place for information, content, and tools   
  • Increase giving opportunities
  • Boost engagement and participation
  • Manage time, resources, & projects + support your staff, admin, and fellow leadership
  • Reduce costs short and long-term (Apps can help save on printing costs, volunteer time and more)

There are many different options to choose from. Most of them focus on a few aspects of your church ecosystem. But which one is going to do all those ^ things for you? Which one is going to truly fuel your church’s mission?

Here’s our take:

Subscription-based Feature Apps

These are apps built for a single feature only, like check-ins or leadership. Users have to download multiple apps in order to do just one thing. When they download an app, a login is required and they aren’t branded. This lack of centralized functionality drives churches to use products outside of the church tech ecosystem, which can be confusing and tedious for members. Lastly, feature apps are often advertised as free. However, since you have to purchase a feature-based subscription, they’re not really free.

Here’s why we don’t love this option. First, these apps are disconnected and inefficient. You have to go to a different place for each of your tasks, to communicate, to find information etc. Not only is this stressful and confusing, the wasted time adds up.

Second, they’re impersonal. Imagine if every city had the same gate, the same exact landscape and landmarks? All that culture and flavor that makes cities across this great country unique, memorable and thriving would be bland—and who wants to visit a bland city? The same can be said for what happens when your church lives in a software-branded app. Your unique personality gets lost behind the face of the outside app.

Container Apps

Many ChMS providers offer this kind of app. They are apps that house multiple church brands together. Members have to download the provider’s app and then search for your church within the app. This means your members are met with a couple barriers right off the bat. Not only is the app not branded, members have to log in, search for you and then they’ll receive messages and notifications from an unfamiliar face—which can cause confusion and make mobile app adoption more difficult.

We actually tried container apps and our customers didn’t like it. We heard comments like:

“They (aware3) were unable to create a unique app for our church. We would have been forced to be lumped into a ‘container app.’ That is the reason we eventually chose to go another direction…” And, “ The icon on the phone is not our icon but rather the aware3 “churchOn” icon.”

Searching for their beloved church among a sea of others was a headache. They wanted an app that was recognizable as their awesome church brand. Not something that was bogged down with confusion, required sign-ins and didn’t really feel like their church. Pastors and church leaders told us it was hard to get their members to download, let alone use it on a consistent basis. The last thing we want is to cause frustration for our church partners. We want to do the exact opposite. We believe a platform should alleviate stress, simplify life, and bring people together.  

Which brings us to…

The Branded App

This is truly your church’s app, complete with only your branding, your features and communications all in one place. It’s easily recognizable and searchable by your name in the app store. There’s no login, just a one-time quick profile set up, which allows the app to give them a truly personalized experience. Profiles and the countless other tools and features in the app, create a connected, open, and valuable environment for all.

It’s also important to get creative with the where and how. We believe branded apps are 100% the way to go. We built our platform for you and your people. To simplify, empower, engage, inspire, and mobilize your mission. One branded, standalone app is the only digital way to:

  1. Get the right message to the right people at the right time.
  2. Create a frictionless experience: No sign-in or barriers.   
  3. Increase giving opportunities
  4. Simplify church management + streamline communication, projects, and processes
  5. Make adoption easy with one personal, valuable go-to source.
  6. Have an all-in-one church experience: Everything you need is in one place and it’s all connected so you can keep learning and growing.

We’ve spent the last 5 years packing it full of ALL the powerful features you need and want. Here’s just a glimpse of a few things you can do when you have the accessibility of your church brand combined with the power of our features in the palm of your hand:  

You’ll save countless hours and dollars

By managing your content, communication, donations and people all in one place. Take it from Duane:

“We’re calling it – “one stop shop”…In hard dollars, we’ll probably save $20,000. The decrease in rate from what we were paying with our last provider is more than enough to pay for the app itself. Besides the fact that our people love it and can access information wherever they are.

Word of mouth feedback that people are loving it.”

Duane Smith, Executive Pastor at Discover Eastside

Easy access

Your Staff, Members, Visitors and Admin only have to download one app to access everything they need to have a memorable and accessible experience with your church. Trust us, they’ll be raving about how easy it is! Just like these folks.

It’s powerful, fun, and frictionless.  

That means there’s no barriers to creating an open digital environment for all of your people to chat, exchange ideas & support each other.

Your app gets smarter over time.

With the combined power of tags, profiles, and connecting all of your features throughout your platform, what you can learn is limitless. The incredible connected ecosystem of data on your people, their giving habits, combined with the data of how they are interacting and communicating in-app, helps you understand and deliver what matters most to your members.

We hope we answered your questions about the different types of apps and cleared things up a bit. Our mission has been and always will be to mobilize your mission. If our all-in-one app sounds perfect for your church or you’d just like to learn more, we’d love to help. Connect with us.

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Church Apps: Branded, Container, & Feature