A Church Communications Director’s honest review of aware3

Church Communications Directors know their stuff. They’re responsible for planning, organizing, communicating, brand advocating, and so much more. And when it comes to a church’s app, they run the show. That’s why we were so excited to chat with Kathy Rosario, Rockstar Communications Director at Gateway City Church. Here’s what she had to say about her aware3 experience:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your church, and your role.

A: My name is Kathy Rosario. I am a Communications Director for Gateway City Church, which is a fancy way of saying I’m an administrator. Our church is roughly about 330 people and my job is to oversee the day-to-day as far as member management and keeping our members informed of upcoming events and announcements, things like that.

What’s the best part of having an app for your church?

A: Well, it simplifies a lot of the communications for us. It’s become a one-stop-shop for what we need as far as a place for members to go to get caught up and things. We use the app for sermons, for contributions in giving, for stage announcements. We have an archive of our weekly emails on there, our member directory is accessible through there, and there are a few other things that we also use it for.

More recently, we’ve been using it for temporary events. We’ve been creating special buttons for things like large multi-church events that we’ve had so that our members have a place to go to access information about where classes are at a conference or things like that. Those buttons come up and they come down, usually over the span of a weekend, but our members have found that to be really helpful. It’s something that they can take with them and it’s one less piece of paper. I’m all about saving the trees!

What challenges has the app helped you solve?

A: It’s given us a center for communications. So, rather than saying, “well, go here to read this email or go to our website for this or talk to your Bible talk Leader about that” It gives you one place where you can find all the information that you need for upcoming events and things.

Also, it’s been helpful in terms of our giving. From talking to our financial director, he told me that the giving alone, if we stripped away everything else the app does, that the amount that we collect through the app for contributions definitely makes it worthwhile for us to continue to use the app.

At this point, I believe that more than half of our contributions come through the app. We do have portals and we also tried text-to-give and the website as well, but far and away the one that most people tend to gravitate towards is the app. That could be because it is so easy to use. Our financial director is happy with the way that payments are processed on the backend. It makes it easy for our accounting team to reconcile when they have to do the back-office work on it.

Q: How would you explain or describe the product and what it does to a friend?

A: I would say it’s a one-stop-shop. The app allows us to have a single place to keep all of our Gateway communications and all of our take-action items for our members. Whether that’s signing up for events or contributing to a specific fund or just giving your regular contributions or listening to Sunday sermons, it makes it easy for our members to stay caught up.

If a member happens to be out of town for Sunday, they still have the ability to hear the sermon and to know what’s going on. Nothing is going to take the place of being in sermon and being present during worship, that’s what God calls us to do. But during the week our members will have family groups and in some of those family groups the leaders will take time to say let’s discuss the sermon and so if someone’s going to be gone or out of town, you can still stay on track and keep up with the rest of your group.

As far as events and announcements, rather than having to sift through and say where’s this? where’s that? The app gives you the ability to take a look and see at a glance what’s going on at Gateway. I would say it just makes things easy and convenient for us and our members.

Q: What have you learned about your church since going more digital?

A: I can tell you that when we first started using the app, and just going with electronic means, there was definitely a bit of a learning curve. It took a little while for our members to come around to using it. We’re creatures of habit and we kind of gravitate towards what we know and what’s easy.

But what we have found is that over time the app has become something that at this point if we were to take it away, people would probably be pretty upset. It’s gone from something that our members saw as a curiosity to something that we couldn’t do without at this point.

In terms of a learning curve, what I’ve I found is that you just need to allow your members time to review it and to take a look at it and be patient. There might be a little bit of training that’s involved or explaining why this is going to make things easier.

I think it’s honest and realistic to say that we will probably never hit 100 percent as far as all of our members giving online and all of our members getting their announcements through the app. There will always be that small contingency that prefers paper, prefers to write checks or give in cash and that’s fine. We will continue to have other channels to take care of those members too, but by and large, the majority (especially for our younger members), having something like our app in place is a must-have. I would say, if you have a church that is trying to attract younger generations, like 40 or below, having electronic solutions like this one are a must. I honestly don’t know that you would attract members without having something like that place.

Q: What was the most surprising part?

A: Probably that the majority of our giving is done online and just how quickly our members took to that part. And our older members have actually also embraced it now too. Once they understood how to use it and everything. It is absolutely essential for our younger members, but our older members also rely on it. I would say those who are over the age of 40, which includes myself. What’s important for that older group is for it to be simple and easy-to-use. Aware3 definitely checks all those boxes.

Q: What feedback have you gotten from your congregation?

A: It’s definitely positive. A lot of our people are depending on it now. So many of our members have embraced it and are using it regularly. It’s so much easier when you have one place you can go for everything.

Q: How has your app improved engagement at your church?

A: We’ve definitely seen an increase in terms of registrations and an increase in consistency of giving has definitely gone up since we’ve implemented the app. Those would be the biggest two things for sure.

Q: What’s the biggest aspect of our platform that we could improve on?

A: For the time being, we’re using the app as a portal and directing people over to the calendar that we have through CCB. and that for us definitely works but yeah, I would say that’s a workaround we’ve had to implement. Other than that, everything is fine.

Q: Anything else you would like to share with us?

A: The pricing is extremely reasonable. Even though we’re a smaller church, we can still look professional. We’re stewards of what’s been given to us. We are careful and very conscious of how we spend our money. Anytime we have a project, we always get three bids for it. We are always price comparing and looking for ways to get discounts because we’re trying to stretch those tithe dollars. I always think of the story about the widow’s offering, about how she always gave the 2 copper coins, because in some cases that’s actually a reality in our church. We have people that are literally living paycheck-to-paycheck or maybe on social security and they’re still tithing and they’re still giving to church. So, I take that very, very seriously when it comes to how we spend our money. I want to make sure that we’re being as efficient as possible.

I think aware3 does a really good job of offering a solution that is affordable and is well worth the cost. What we pay for it compared to what we get out of it, it is definitely a very good investment. We don’t necessarily always go with the lowest cost, but you also have to look at it in terms of value and what the company that you’re working with brings to the table. Aware3 definitely hits that sweet spot in terms of affordability and app features that make our members’ lives easier.

Thank you, Kathy!

Kathy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We know your honest and insightful answers will help so many others on their digital journey. We are so grateful to have church partners like you

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A Church Communications Director’s honest review of aware3