Mobile apps can simplify and enrich your church’s communications and help reach and engage new followers.
So says James Dickson, founder of Piota (Put it on the App) who make high quality, affordable mobile apps for schools, churches, charities and local community organisations.
‘Keeping your congregation engaged and in touch is not easy,’ said James, who worked in finance for 20 years before setting up Piota. ‘They want to hear from you but with crowded inboxes, a young adult demographic that doesn’t do email, a website which broadcasts information but can’t personalise it, social media sites which are unfocused and limited in format, and ever-decreasing attention spans and patience levels, even the most inspiring or urgent material goes astray or unread.’
If you are struggling to cover everyone through a mix of emails, texts, Facebook feeds and website announcements, you already know the problem!
‘You need a high-quality mobile app versatile enough to double up as both a messaging centre and information hub for your congregation, volunteers and wider church family,’ he contends. ‘Our church app is your one-stop shop. It speeds up communications in rich formats, directly to everyone with the app or specific sub-groups. It’s a quick reference source with immediate access to everything people might want to know, from meeting timings to last week’s sermon, to how to donate. It is affordable and should even pay for itself in cost and time savings.’
Where is God calling me and what does he want me to do?
These are just some of the questions young people face at key points in their journey of faith.
‘We want to use our hugely diverse ministry to encourage them to discover how they can bless others, lead people closer to Jesus and bring hope to the world,’ said Hope Now’s Jon White. ‘We pray that God would prompt their hearts to pray, go and tell others about what he is doing.’
Hope Now is an international Christian charity striving to share the love of Jesus through giving practical aid and spiritual support for the past 30 years. The organisation currently works in Sri Lanka, Moldova, Myanmar but most of its work is in Ukraine.
‘We work in areas of healthcare, orphans and fostering, prison ministry, education and Bible teaching, evangelism and church planting, summer camps and care for the elderly,’ explained Jon.
‘We are keen to meet youth leaders, introduce them to our work and show them what we can offer their young people. We want to give churches the opportunity to have Hope Now speak at their youth groups about the work of the charity, aiming to inspire them in their faith.’
A game changer for churches struggling with the way their missional life fits their buildings.
That’s how Nigel Walter of CRE 2018 exhibitor Church Build describes Building for Mission. Packed with potential for effective engagement with the whole community, the book covers a wide range of practical issues affecting church buildings, from caring for medieval masonry to installing multimedia electronic systems.
‘We’ve set out to offer essential information and easy-to-follow advice on heating, lighting and energy efficiency, installing a kitchen or toilets, dealing with damp and much more,’ said Walter. Church Build believe the best buildings are created from a close partnership between client and architect.
‘We like to think of our role as being a critical friend,’ said Walter. ‘We’re at your side to support and guide, but we’re also there to question. When choosing an architect, what you are really buying, therefore, is not a product, not even a service but a relationship.’
A new electric system that mimics a hot water system by warming the fabric of the building – without using a boiler and running on electricity.
That’s just one of the innovations from CRE exhibitor Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Heating.
‘It is particularly useful for churches in more remote locations where mains gas is not available,’ explained Dunphy, who juggles being chair of League One Rochdale FC with running a firm which has designed and installed cost-effective heating systems for more than 40 years.
‘We’ve probably heated more than 1,000 churches,’ said Dunphy. ‘If you’ve got a medieval or Victorian building you’re looking at walls two to seven feet thick. They act like storage heaters. The worse nightmare is a church built in the 1960s or 70s – with low heat retention. Give me an old church any day!
‘It is a complex issue with far-reaching implications which affect the very fabric of your building. Factors almost uniquely relevant to churches that have to be considered. Noise, excessive movement of air, changes in humidity and of course the visual effect on the aesthetic of the church. To get any of these wrong can lead not only to a poorly heated church but can also lead to considerable damage of the building via thermal shock, distortion, condensation, wood rot or even organ damage’.
In short, warns Dunphy, a bad heating system can be disastrous.
‘Our philosophy on church heating is quite simple: to produce the most cost effective solution to your individual needs in the long term,’ he maintains. ‘The criteria for this will be different in every church. When we install a heating system, we like the finished product to be unobtrusive as possible. We pay great attention to every detail. Heat emitters can be colour coded if required and piperuns made as neat and discreet as possible.’
An all-new version of CCLI’s popular SongSelect website has been launched, making it the best single source of legal song words and sheet music for music teams planning Sunday sung worship.
‘Many of the improvements made to the new site have come in response to customer feedback, with existing users providing some very positive feedback on the changes,’ said CCLI’s Rich Burrough. ‘As well as a complete re-skin, the new site eschews Flash in favour of the latest HTML5 player, making it fully responsive for mobile devices. HTML5 is compatible with all the latest browsers including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Firefox.’
SongSelect features official song resources for more than 100,000 worship songs and hymns.
A subscription site, available to any church which holds a Church Copyright Licence (CCL) for the projection/reproduction of song words, SongSelect packages start from £32 a year. In response to customer feedback, the new site adds thousands of multi-part vocal sheets to the lyrics, lead sheets and chord sheets which were already available.
‘These come with the new Premium package which costs £115 per year,’ said Rich, ‘though existing subscribers can upgrade for a pro-rated cost.’
All SongSelect subscriptions are church based and allow unlimited access for as many people as required within the church’s music and projection/multimedia teams. In addition, SongSelect seamlessly integrates with a number of leading song planning and projection software packages, including OnSong, MediaShout and ProPresenter.
‘This makes song planning and delivery much easier, whether you’re preparing in advance or responding in the moment,’ added Rich. ‘If you decide it’s for you and your church, you can simply arrange a subscription through your church and link your account to your church.’