Churches Go High Tech with Custom Mobile Apps

high tech church image

By Emily Davis|WSJ

 

 

 

Andrea Davis has created a new wing of her church: her car.

When Ms. Davis, 45 years old, has downtime from her job helping manage parking for University of Tennessee-Knoxville sporting events she’ll settle in to her Honda Civic to catch up on sermons via audio and video from her church’s free, custom-made smartphone app.

“I feel that anywhere you go, you should carry that spirit with you,” says Ms. Davis, who holds a second job as a teaching assistant and lives 45 minutes away from Faith Promise Church located in Knoxville, Tenn. “It’s like I’m there and not missing anything.”

App developers say more than 150 churches across the U.S. have had customized smartphone and tablet apps created to connect with their members. The church apps are a relatively new twist on the broader influx of technology into religious life that includes popular apps for prayer and even making confessions.

Pastors and parishioners say the technology can enable people to uphold the call to stay religiously involved at all times, not just on Sunday. App developers expect thousands of churches to develop the apps in coming years to meet demand from worshipers.

Some specialized apps help parents keep track of what their children are studying in Sunday school and offer discussion tips. Church leaders also hope the apps will entice teenagers to stay involved with their churches and will help provide spiritual guidance when they’re away.

“That’s their world: their iPhone. If it ain’t in their pocket, it’s not real,” says Tom Wray, a consultant within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who has promoted such apps to Catholic churches.

So far, mostly large, mainline Protestant and evangelical churches have had customized apps made, developers say. Typically, the apps aggregate information including a pastor’s blog, church calendar and sometimes a public, digital wall on which congregants can request and offer prayers.

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