How to Develop a Church App: Why to Build One and What Features to Include

Updated 10 Jul 2024

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The mobile development industry has been growing so quickly, and now smartphones are an integral part of every person’s day-to-day activities. The unprecedented demands for mobile devices have pushed religious faiths to build a church app to keep up with the current trend and access a broader audience. In 2023, three in four Americans said they identify with specific religious beliefs.

Building a church app would bring the church an opportunity to conduct online sermons and receive donations. However, there are plenty of things to learn before looking for mobile app development.

This article will help you learn how to develop a church app, its benefits, technology trends, features to implement, and cost estimate in detail.

How to Make a Church App in 9 Steps

To help you outline what exactly to do to ensure a smooth church app development process, below you can examine a step-by-step guide on custom church app development:

Step 1. Define why you need a church mobile app

Think about the primary reasons why you could benefit from creating a church app. Maybe you need to improve communication within your congregation, making it easier for members to stay updated on events and sermons. Or, perhaps you're looking for a more convenient way to handle donations or want to reach a broader audience. For example, if your church often struggles with getting information out quickly, an app that sends push notifications could be a game-changer.

Step 2. Clarify your church app goals

Next, set some clear and achievable goals for your church or ministry app development. In other words, define what you want your church app to do. Maybe you want to boost engagement by having more members attend events or make online giving more inclusive and accessible. For example, if one of your goals is to increase online donations, having a secure and user-friendly donation feature will be the key. Defining these goals will help you prioritize key features over functionality that may be added later.

Step 3. Find an experienced vendor

Focus on looking for a company with experience in creating church apps, especially for non-profits or religious organizations. Check out their past work and read client reviews to get a sense of their reliability and expertise. Research platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms to find a company that suits your requirements regarding domain expertise and tech proficiency.

It’s important to find someone who understands your vision and values. Having a good working relationship with your church app development vendor will make the development process smoother and ensure the final product aligns with your church's mission.

For example, offshore software development is an excellent choice for church app development due to its cost-effectiveness and high-quality services. Offshore outsourcing also provides access to a broad pool of skilled developers, often with exclusive expertise.

Anyway, you may notice that offshore experts' rates are quite different. For example, regions like Central and Eastern Europe, particularly Estonia, offer competitive pricing with hourly rates ranging from $50 to $70, compared to $100 to $200 in the US.

Despite the lower rates, the quality of work in CEE region (Central and Eastern Europe) is top-tier, often matching or exceeding that of US developers. This cost-quality ratio allows churches to stretch their budgets further without sacrificing the standard of their app.

Step 4. Decide on the church app features

Now, think about the features your app should have. Here are key features that are commonly included while planning to create an app for a church:

  • Church information
  • News
  • Event calendar
  • Push notifications
  • Sacred books section
  • Donations
  • Social networks integration
  • Media library
  • Live streaming
  • Community forums
  • Contact feature

Note: The feature list may significantly vary depending on your church's and congregation's needs, so prioritize features that will best serve your community and support your church's mission. In this way, if you want to improve engagement, including a feature that lets members easily register for events could be very beneficial. Besides, engage with your congregation through surveys or focus groups. This will provide valuable insights into what features they would find most useful and what exactly they need to improve their experience within your organization.

Step 5. Choose a platform for your church app

Decide whether your solution will be a web church app, a native church app for iOS and Android, or a cross-platform church app that operates both on iOS and Android. Web apps are accessible from any browser, making them widely available without needing downloads. Native apps offer better performance and can use device-specific features but require separate development for iOS and Android. At the same time, utilizing cross-platform app development services can save on development costs by running on multiple platforms with a single codebase. While making this decision, consider your budget, timelines and preferences of your congregation.

Why go with custom mobile app development? Read our detailed guide and learn about it’s pricing and benefits for your business

Step 6. Think about UI/UX design

Make sure your church app is easy to navigate and visually appealing so members can find and use its features without frustration. Conduct usability testing with a small group from your congregation to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments. A positive user experience will encourage members to use the app regularly. A professional UI/UX design services provider will help you create a custom church app design that aligns with your church’s brand identity and meets accessibility standards.

Church app design Cleveroad

Church app development: Cleveroad's design concept

Step 7. Develop your church app

With a clear plan and design, your development team pulls into the church app development process. The team will help you create a detailed timeline and roadmap, outlining each phase from coding to testing. At this stage, you’ll closely collaborate with your vendor, providing feedback to make sure the team’s effort aligns with vision and goals you plan to achieve by creating a church app. Regular check-ins and updates will help keep the project on track. Nevertheless, the church app development team will conduct iterative testing during development to catch and fix bugs early.

Step 8. Test and launch your church app

Before launching your app, the development team conducts thorough testing to ensure it’s free of bugs, and the performance of your app is still high. This stage includes testing your church app functionality, usability, and scalability within different levels of user loads. Once testing is complete, you’ll need to plan your church app launch with your development team. From your side, inform your congregation about the new app through announcements during services, newsletters, and social media. Provide clear instructions on how to download and use the app.

Step 9. Assess church app post-launch stage

After launching the app, mobile church app tech team will monitor its performance and adjust it to growing app users loads. You can use analytics tools (Google Analytics, Firebase Analytics, Maixpanel, etc.) to track user engagement, feature usage, and any issues that arise. Gather feedback from users to make improvements and updates. The development team will update the church app to fix bugs, enhance performance, and add new features. Besides, promote the app within your community by highlighting new features and encouraging members to share it with others.

Build your church app with us

Our team will help you build a custom church app that’ll focus on your community needs, provide them with inclusive access to sermons, and enable you to supplement your mission with a digital solution

There are several tendencies that are most likely to be incorporated by organizations that plan to build church apps. Let’s explore the 3 most vibrant trends:

​​Personalized user experiences

By leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), church apps can provide more personalized content, such as tailored sermons, prayer suggestions, and event recommendations based on user behavior and preferences. These technologies enhance users’ engagement by delivering more relevant and meaningful interactions for each member.

Integrated online and offline worship

With the wide popularity of hybrid worship models, church apps will increasingly integrate features that bridge the gap between online and in-person experiences. Creating a church app with this functionality can include live streaming of services, virtual small groups, interactive event calendars, and real-time participation in worship activities. All these foster a sense of community regardless of physical location or each community member.

Enhanced community-building functionalities

Church apps are now likely to focus more on community engagement and connection. Features like social networking, real-time chat, and collaborative platforms for group activities and missions are already becoming more prevalent. These tools help congregations stay connected, support one another, and participate actively in church life, even outside of regular services.

How much does it cost to hire app developer? Learn what impacts pricing, where to find experts and how to choose an app development vendor in this guide

When considering creating your own church app, it’ll be valuable to study successful examples to understand best practices. Here are 4 popular church apps that have set a high standard:

YouVersion bible app

The YouVersion Bible App is a comprehensive and widely-loved resource for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the Bible with over 250 million downloads worldwide. It offers a vast array of Bible translations and languages, making it accessible to a global audience. The app’s core features:

  • Daily devotionals
  • Reading plans
  • Ability to highlight and bookmark favorite verses
  • Sharing verses on social media

The intuitive interface ensures easy navigation between different translations and tools, making it a go-to app for daily Bible study and spiritual growth.

Church center app

The Church Center App, developed by Planning Center, is a powerful tool designed to keep church communities connected and engaged. The app has over 1 million downloads on Google Play app store and is widely recognized in the church community It allows church members to check in to events, give donations, join groups, and manage their profiles. The app is user-friendly, with a clean interface that makes it easy for members to stay updated on church activities and announcements. The home screen typically features upcoming events and recent sermons, making it simple for users to stay in the loop. The app also integrates with other Planning Center products, providing a seamless experience for both church staff and congregation members.

Faithlife

Faithlife can be truly recognized as true church mobile app development example. A platform designed to integrate various aspects of church life. It offers features like:

  • Bible study tools
  • Sermon preparation resources
  • Community-building activities
  • Active discussions,
  • Shared prayer requests

With over 500,000+ downloads in Google Play, the app also includes a digital library with a vast collection of Christian resources, including books and study materials. The interface is modern and user-friendly, with easy access to different features through a straightforward navigation menu. Faithlife aims to enhance both personal spiritual growth and community engagement within the church.

Subsplash church app

The Subsplash Church App is a customizable app platform that many churches use to create a mobile app with their own branding. The platform is utilized to create amount of churches and has already gained over 100,000 downloads. The app includes features like:

  • Sermon streaming
  • Event calendars
  • Push notifications
  • Donation processing

Each church can tailor the app to fit its unique needs and branding, providing a personalized experience for its members. Subsplash offer analytics and engagement tools, helping church leaders understand how their congregation interacts with the app and identify areas for improvement.

Key Features to Add in Church App

To create your own church app, you should first decide on the required features. Once it’s done, write down every idea you have to be able to provide clear requirements for the company that’ll create your church application. It’ll speed up the app development process and help bear everything in mind.

Now let’s talk about features. First, let’s consider some basic features needed to create a church app that will be helpful for parishioners:

Information about a church

That’s probably the first thing the app should contain. You may provide members with detailed information on church history, goals, clerics, and ministry programs.

News

The feed will allow parishioners to be aware of all the forthcoming events. Church app developers can build a push notification system.

Events calendar

Create church mobile app with an event calendar feature so that users can plan their time. You can also use app notifications to remind you of upcoming events.

Push notifications

Deliver important information to parishioners in an instance. Besides, GEO fencing can be used to adjust notifications depending on the area of living.

Sacred books

A variety of users read religious books like the Bible on their mobile devices. So, you can provide them with such an opportunity within building a church app. Besides, it’s a good idea to add the opportunity for writing personal notes.

Donations

Donations are important for any non-commercial organization. Some churches collect donations during events. To organize it conveniently for parishioners, you can send them notifications to remind them about the possibility of making donations.

Social networks integration

This step will provide you and your users with an opportunity to share different events on social networks using your church app solution.

Media library

You can connect websites like YouTube or Vimeo for placing/adding videos to your media library. You can also integrate audio sermons from iTunes or other audio stores, as well as create own podcasts and downloadable audio files.

Live streaming

By means of services like Live Stream or Ustream, you are able to conduct live broadcasts from your church app. This feature will help to keep up with events for those parishioners who cannot physically attend church services or certain events.

Community features

Building a church app provides a great opportunity to create a friendly community among church members. Introduce features as group chats, that allow members to communicate, discuss the latest news, and prepare for upcoming events.

Contact feature

You may allow your app's users to ask questions in chat, make calls or contact the representatives of the church in any other convenient way.

How to make a church app: features

How to create a church app: features to include

Why You Need to Create Your Own Church App

A church app is a digital tool for managing daily activities and administrative tasks such as congregation management, tracking attendance, and allowing spiritual leaders to take notes on participants in various groups. Making your regular church a smart church by creating a specified mobile app can get a number of benefits, including cost reductions, improved communication, and more. Let’s disclose each vibrant benefit in more detail:

Next level of communication

Church app development is an excellent decision if church ministers want to stay in touch with parishioners and parishioners want to communicate with each other. The application can inform users about the latest church news and deliver them invitations on events.

Broad reach

Church apps offer users with 24/7 access to sermons, videos, sacred books like Holy Bible, and other religious material with just a few clicks. As for the clerics and spiritual leaders, they can deliver the word of the Lord among people by applying modern OTT solutions with superior streaming quality.

In addition, such applications unite parishioners into an active online community. They may give an opportunity to chat both in the application or jump to a person’s socials and continue there.

Donations

A church app can help you establish a convenient way to make donations. So church app solutions may have a donation opportunity and let parishioners share the donation link in social networks.

Online sermons

Offering online sermons through a church app ensures that members can access spiritual guidance anytime, anywhere, without the feeling attached to specific conditions. This feature is especially valuable for those unable to attend in person, helping them maintain their connection to the church community and its teachings.

Charity and volunteering

Building a church app allows reminding parishioners about the forthcoming charity or volunteering events. Push notifications can be great helpers in involving more people to an event. It’s reasonable to add a photo library for events, let people comment them, and make charity donations.

Community building

Creating a church app fosters a stronger sense of community by providing a central hub for members to connect, share updates, and engage in church activities. It enhances communication and participation, making everyone feel more involved and supported.

Why Custom Church Apps?

Wondering how to get a church app, you may choose between custom development, off-the-shelf software, or a solution created using app builders. Custom software development services for your church means creating software from scratch, considering all your goals and requirements. It will allow you to get all the necessary functionality and meet all your needs.

On the other hand, out-of-the-box solutions and applications created with app builders cannot guarantee either stability of work or rich functionality. Developing a custom app is the only way to keep user experience at a high level and provide users with the required features.

Custom mobile apps for churches can bring you the following advantages:

Secure access

The post-pandemic reality shows the need to make churches more flexible and get online. Church applications allow priests and pastors to hold religious practices and meetings remotely without being limited to specific places and times.

Branding

When you create a custom product from scratch, you can get a unique mobile app design that will reflect all the features of your brand and ensure your church name and logo are on the user’s home screen. This way, you can promote it, increase your reach and attract new users.

Reasons for church app development

Church app development: why to create a church app

Church application tailored to your needs

By contacting the church app developer to create a custom solution, you can share all your requirements and business goals and get an application that will meet all your needs and have all the necessary features.

Integration with accounting software

Custom development allows you to successfully integrate a mobile church app with your accounting software, allowing you to conduct and monitor payments.

Let’s compare custom mobile church solutions and ready-made apps:

Custom vs. ready-made church app development

Custom solutionReady-made solution

Cost

Higher development and implementation cost. But initial investments will pay off on the long run

Lower implementation costs

Scalability

You can expand and improve an app further

You can't modify an app

Functionality

Includes custom features that meet your needs

Limited functionality

Suitability

Suits all your goals and requirements

May lack the functionality to meet your goals

User experience

Provides better UX

Provides worse UX

Unique services

Allows you to provide unique services and stand out from the competition

Contains only basic services

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Church App?

There are a lot of factors affecting the final church app development cost such as platform, features, design, integrations, and developers’ rates. So, regarding all factors, church app development cost approximately is $60,000-$180,000.

As we mentioned earlier, cross-platform solutions are more budget-friendly than native app development. That’s why our expert team has calculated the approximate cost of developing a church app with Flutter based on the basic features.

The price is based on the average hourly rate in our region (Estonia), which is equal to $50/h.

Church app development cost

Core featuresDevelopment time (h)

Registration

71 hours

Login

64 hours

Profile

123 hours

Settings

23 hours

Home screen

24 hours

Streaming

55 hours

Posts

99 hours

Mobile Bible

75 hours

Push notifications

31 hours

Admin panel

325 hours

Total development time

890 hours

Note: The estimation above doesn't include QA, BA, SA, DevOps and UI/UX design services (the services of these specialists are counted separately), and estimates only features described in the article. Meaning those are approximate numbers.

For sure, church app development cost is significantly impacted by your development team location. For example, if your destination is the U.S., hiring nearshore, like a team from Mexico or Canada, offers cultural and time zone advantages but can still be pricey.

On the other hand, hiring custom church app developers offshore, such as from Central and Eastern Europe, provides substantial cost savings and access to a larger talent pool with expertise more tailored to your demands. Countries like Estonia offer developers at lower rates (ranging from $30 to $50/hour), making high-quality app development more affordable.

Offshore development is often the better choice for churches looking to maximize their budget. It allows for robust, feature-rich apps without breaking the bank, letting churches invest more in their ministry and community.

Feel free to contact our experts and get a custom cost estimation of your church application!

Cleveroad Expertise in Making Church App

Our team has proven expertise in church app development. Recently, we’ve helped a Christian missions training organization create a custom ministry management app to connect people willing to share their faith in one digital community.

The Cleveroad team created a comprehensive ministry management app and a web admin panel from the ground up. This solution allows churches and ministries to initiate and monitor the progress of prayer training and evangelism efforts. The app includes features like video training, map services displaying outreach locations, and tools for tracking disciples' progress. It is fully compliant with GDPR regulations and provides access permissions control based on the administration’s role-based access control (RBAC) approach, catering to various denominations.

As a result, the new app attracted more users, leading to increased donations and financial support for their initiatives. Improved app performance and user experience helped retain members previously dissatisfied with the old app. Overall, the organization saw growth in its digital community, more efficient management of training programs, and increased participation and support for its missions.

See what our client says about their experience collaborating with the Cleveroad team during the creation of the church app:

Ryan Corrigan

Ryan Corrigan

COO, i2 Ministries

The Cleveroad team was precise when it came to deadlines

Now, let us tell you more about us and what IT services we offer to church committees.

Cleveroad is an outsourcing app development company headquartered in Northern Europe, Estonia. Since 2011, we have assisted religious organizations in creating customized software solutions to ensure church committees can enhance community engagement, streamline operations, and foster deeper connections with their congregations through innovative digital solutions. Besides, we provide a wide range of IT services, including web and mobile development from scratch, cross-platform app development, llegacy software modernization, DevOps services, UI/UX design services and much more.

Here’s why cooperating with us is beneficial in terms of delivering a digital product for your church:

  • On-demand IT services. We provide a wide range of on-demand tech services so you don’t need a whole church app development team. These include software development from scratch, legacy soft modernization, Discovery Phase services, UI/UX design services, and more.
  • Full-service development. We provide services throughout the whole church app development lifecycle, encompassing initial concept validation, product release, deployment, and support.
  • Flexible cooperation models. You can choose from dedicated team and IT staff augmentation services, depending on your project requirements, budget considerations and timelines
  • Tailored expertise. With a deep understanding of your project's unique needs, we are ready to assemble the perfect team of specialists to match. With our thorough documentation and strong knowledge transfer practices, we ensure a smooth and efficient process. We're dedicated to delivering high-quality resources that align perfectly with your project goals.
  • Partnership with a certified IT company. Cooperation with a vendor with ISO certification (ISO 9001:2015 - quality management and ISO/IEC 27001:2013 - data security management). These certifications guarantee that our services align with world-leading practices regarding robust data security and consistent software quality.

Ready to build a church app?

Get custom mobile church app development services from a team with 12+ years of experience in the IT field

Frequently Asked Questions
What is a church app?

A church app is a kind of app designed to help churches and religious organizations connect with their congregation more effectively. It provides a digital platform for sharing sermons, announcements, event information, and other church content.

What are the basic types of church apps?

There are 4 main types of church apps:

  • Sermon and content delivery apps. These apps focus on delivering sermons, podcasts, and other religious content.
  • Event and community engagement apps. These apps are designed to keep the congregation informed about church events, meetings, and activities
  • Donation and fundraising apps. These apps facilitate online giving and fundraising efforts
  • Integrated church management apps: These are comprehensive apps that combine several functionalities, including content delivery, event management, donation processing, and community engagement.
Why should a church have a mobile app?

The church should obtain a mobile app for several reasons:

  • Better communication
  • Broad reach
  • Simplified donations
  • Online sermons
  • Expanded charity and volunteering opportunities
  • Stronger community building
How to make an app for my church?

While building your app for a church, keep up with the following steps:

  • Step 1. Define why you need a church app
  • Step 2. Clarify your church app goals
  • Step 3. Find an experienced vendor
  • Step 4. Decide on the feature set
  • Step 5. Choose a platform for your church app
  • Step 6. Think about UI/UX design
  • Step 7. Develop your church app
  • Step 8. Test and launch your church app
  • Step 9. Asses church app post-launch stage
How much does it cost to develop a church app?

Given the amount of work, it'll cost you approximately $60,000-$180,000 to create your own church app with Flutter. The estimation above doesn't include QA, BA, SA, DevOps and UI/UX design services (the services of these specialists are counted separately), and estimates only features described in the article. Meaning those are approximate numbers.

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About author

Evgeniy Altynpara is a CTO and member of the Forbes Councils’ community of tech professionals. He is an expert in software development and technological entrepreneurship and has 10+years of experience in digital transformation consulting in Healthcare, FinTech, Supply Chain and Logistics

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