A Pastor’s honest review of aware3’s all-in-one church app
Searching for the perfect church app can be stressful. From giving to communication, you have a lot of boxes to check and no time (or other resources) to waste. But with every app company claiming to be the best, how do you know which one really is the best for your church? To help you answer that question and more, we decided to step back and let our church partners do the talking.
Jeromie Jones, Executive Pastor at Momentum Church was kind enough to give us an honest and in-depth interview about his experience with the aware3 app. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your church, and your role.
A: I’m the Executive Pastor at Momentum Christian Church. If you really wanted to know what we are all about, we are a church planting church. We’ve planted 3 churches here in the San Diego area and we’ve got a 4th that we’re getting ready to plant in the first part of 2020.
I oversee basically anything that doesn’t happen on the mainstage or worship. I oversee our student and children’s ministries and our community groups, I do a lot of our discipleship and leadership development. And I oversee stuff like budgets, finance, contracts, all those really boring details that you also have to have
The church will be 11 years old here in a couple months. It was planted to reach people. San Diego is fairly unchurched. I think the statistic is about 4% attend a church service on a Sunday, so we are really committed and dedicated to changing the spiritual landscape of San Diego County.
Q: What’s the best part of having an app for your church?
A: I would say probably keeping all the different parts of our ministry connected and at people’s fingertips. For example, someone can listen to a message or one of our midweek podcasts and immediately, from our app, after listening to it be able to register for something. We talk a lot about community groups, we want people to be able to immediately join a group.
It [the app] cuts down on the “you hear about it here, but then you gotta go there stuff.” It’s just that ability to cross-pollinate from one area to another and not have ten different things that they have to keep up with or ten different things that they have to go do. It has better integrated our church as a whole.
Q: Why did you choose aware3 over the other options out there?
A: When I was researching an app, I needed something that integrated with a few other things that we were already doing. I hate maintaining separate databases–having some of your information stored here and then some of it’s stored there. We use Church Community Builder as our church management software, so when I was looking for an app, I was looking for something that already integrated in with that. When I found out aware3 did that, that was pretty much the deciding factor. It was something that I wouldn’t have to train a whole bunch of people on how to do something completely different and I wouldn’t have to worry about our giving through the app not seamlessly integrating into our system.
Q: What challenges were you facing that you hoped an app would help you solve?
A: The way culture is headed and has been trending for the last 15 or 20 years, is that everything is mobile. Asking people to go to a website to do anything is becoming less and less viable as an option. In fact, I think (we ran some statistics and looked at some stuff) about 80-85% of our website traffic are people who are new to the area and just trying to check out the church for the first time. Basically, once someone gets integrated into our church, they stop visiting the website, unless they’ve set up giving through it or something like that. We needed something to help keep regular people connected, informed, and we were just trying to cut down on the number of steps we asked people to do. If you’ve gotten used to going on Amazon and doing one-click shopping, you don’t like it when your church tells you, “ go here, fill out this form, then go here and do this.” So we were trying to cut down on the number of steps that people had to take and we were trying to keep information in one place. It’s like you find this piece of information over here and then you have to go over here to do this for your kids and then go register for that event over here. We needed something where if we talked about something or we mentioned something, there’s a one-stop-shop for all of it.
Another thing that we noticed is that emails are really good for creating awareness but they’re not a very timely thing. People have gotten in the habit of checking our emails maybe once a week, so if you’re depending on that to move people to action, it just doesn’t seem to help a whole lot. A lot of times it’s the day before, like you may need to register your kids for camp or something, so having a push notification that they can click on and it immediately take them to the registration link is much more effective. It cuts down on so much work and provides a real service for the people within our church. They can say, “Yes, I got it. Boom, click. That was easy.” We were really happy that the app was able to help solve those pain points.
Q: You mentioned registrations a few times, has that been the biggest area the app has helped with?
A: Registrations have been a big one. One of the things we use it for is for all of our community groups. A lot of our community groups are sermon based, which means whatever’s talked about on Sunday is what they study on a deeper level during the week. We’ve been able to put our sermon notes in there so that as they fill out the sermon notes, it’ll send the notes and then community group questions directly to them. Or they can just go on the app for the questions and so they don’t have to keep an extra piece of paper or go download it somewhere from another website. That’s been really big. A lot of our giving now happens through the app. So registration is a big one, but I would say those other two are an even larger use of how the app is being used–So community group guides, Sunday morning note taking, and giving.
Q: How would you explain or describe the product and what it does to a friend?
A: That’s kinda tough because it does so much. If I’m talking to someone else who is in ministry, I’d say this is a great tool to use in your church to connect people to each other, to help them take next steps, and to keep them informed of what’s happening within your church.
Q: Can you tell me about a specific person or family that your app helped get more connected to your church?
A: We have a woman that got baptized about five or six months ago. She downloaded our app and came across our leadership development podcast that we do, listened to all of that and found out about some opportunities through that. She clicked on over, registered for our women’s fall retreat. She had never been on a retreat, had no idea what it was but found it and then signed up to start serving all through the app. Just her getting the app and exploring, she’s taken two or three steps in her faith just from things she discovered there. That probably cut out four or five months of conversations and work and stuff like that–you know, saying, “ Hey have you thought about doing this or have you tried this.” Since the app was there and the different steps were already there that she could take on the app, she was able to do it at her pace, at the timing she wanted.
Q: What have you learned about your church since going more digital?
A: I think it helps you identify who the raving fans are more quickly because you can see that there’s a group of people who are consuming everything and you can also see what things are most helpful to people. We try different things, like we’ll put out a spiritual guide resource on the app and see how people interact with it. Some things we’ll put out there and it’s like, wow, people are really interacting with this. Other things, it’s like well, that helped those six people but nobody else seemed interested.
It gives us a lot of good real-time feedback on how people are interacting with some of the materials and resources. If you ask most people, they’re going to be nice and polite and say, “ yeah, that was helpful, that was good.” But being able to see where people are going on the app and what they’re interacting with the most, lets us know what people actually value and what’s actually super useful to them. We’ve been able to use it as a learning tool to see how to best resources and how to best equip our people.
Q: What was the most surprising part?
A: I was surprised about how quickly everyone has switched to digital giving. You always expect as people trend younger that they’re going to give more online, but right now about 70 – 80% of our total giving comes through the app or the aware3 website behind it. I was not expecting it to shift that fast. I’m glad, it makes things a lot easier.
Q: What feedback have you gotten from your congregation?
A: People really like having information and resources on the app all the time. They don’t have to remember anything. They don’t have to remember where they put it. Since we do a lot of our forms and registrations like for kids camps or student trips through the app, parents never have to worry about where they put the form. On the back, on our end, we’ve been able to make so much of it digital. We don’t have to worry about keeping track of forms in a folder. It’s very easy to download and look. I would say, everyone’s appreciated the ease-of-use.
Q: How has your app improved engagement & process at your church?
A: On top of the ways already mentioned, just getting people connected to things quicker. When people have a question they don’t have to email someone and wait for a response because a lot of times the information can be found on the app.
Cutting down steps has been huge. In all the analytics and stuff that we’ve looked at, every step in a process that people have to go through, you lose people at each step. If you can cut out 2 or 3 steps, you can usually add at least a few more people to whatever it is you’re doing just from the sheer convenience factor.
Q: Do you use any of the interactive features like live polling?
A: Yeah, we’ve done live polling. Our marriage ministry team was trying to figure out “which of these things” would people be most interested in. So we used live pulling to get some feedback. The push notifications we use a lot to connect directly to one aspect of the app.
Q: What is the biggest aspect for our platform we could improve on?
A: This might just be something that I need to spend more time on. I haven’t done a deep dive on it yet but I like to do all of our payment stuff through aware3 but CCB also has a form thing and so for whatever reason, when we have our registrations tab, it pulls all of the CCB form into that but it doesn’t pull the aware3 form in. I guess I just need to figure how to pull aware3 forms into a single tab. That’s a little confusing for me. It sometimes gets confusing for people, when certain forms get pulled in and then this one’s not. Then we have to send a direct link.
Q: Anything else you would like to share with us?
A: I love the fact that it’s so customizable and yet at the same time it’s very easy to use. A lot of times, software that’s super customizable you have to be really good at using it. Otherwise, the tools are just too powerful and you get lost very easily. You guys have managed to make it customizable and still easy to use at the same time. That’s been very, very helpful for us.
Before we go…
We hope this Q & A answered some of your questions and gave you a glimpse of what our app can do for your church. If you’d like to learn more or set up a personalized demo, we’d love to chat with you.
We also want to extend a huge thank you to Pastor Jeromie for taking the time to speak with us and for providing such valuable insight into Momentum Church’s app experience. We are so grateful for our awesome church partners!