Thanks to Apple, Your Church Now Has More Options

Thanks to Apple, Your Church Now Has More Options

You’ve seen the stats. The people in your church community spend five hours a day with their faces glued to their smartphones. Your church wants a piece of that time, but the competition is fierce. Some of the best apps in the world (with millions of dollars invested in them) are going after that time as well.   

If you’re going to reach your community with your mobile presence, a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work.

What works in one church won’t work in another.

You need options.

Now, thanks to Pushpay and Apple, you have them.

The future of generosity and participation in your church depends on your ability to customize a great mobile presence for your unique community.

What You Need to Know First

As you may already know, the entire mobile app industry has been bracing for changes by Apple that would have moved nearly all churches toward a consolidated mobile app. But Apple updated its App Store guidelines in late December 2017 to give churches like yours more options. In addition to a consolidated app (MyChurch by Pushpay), you can now publish your own standalone custom church app leveraging a template (also from Pushpay). What does this mean? Your church can choose what’s best for your community.

The process for getting the app live is a little different, but we will cover that below.

A Little Backstory: Apple’s Change to 4.2.6

Last year, Apple made news for a change called Rule 4.2.6, introduced in Summer 2017. This new App Store guideline banned any apps built from a templated service (including apps created by Pushpay). We’re proud to be the first app vendor in the industry to be open and honest about how these changes would impact church apps. At first, this seemed like a good move. With more than 2.3 million apps in the App Store, things get crowded. So Apple banned these apps to create a better experience for users.

The change garnered so much attention that a California congressman wrote a letter to Apple about the change and the negative impacts for local communities—including churches, restaurants, and fitness studios. Because we knew you weren’t getting the choices you needed to effectively engage your community, we also took your case straight to the head of Apple’s app review board.

After getting so much pressure from multiple industries, Apple changed the rules to redress these concerns. Apple updated Rule 4.2.6 in December 2017 to offer an alternative to a consolidated app—providing an avenue for standalone apps built on a commercialized template.  

Our Meeting with Apple

Apple announced their latest update right before Christmas, a season that’s incredibly busy for our team and our churches. End-of-year giving is so critical for our churches that we dedicated our attention and efforts to ensuring they ended the year strong.

After the new year, several of our top executives met with Apple to discuss the latest change and how it would impact churches. As one of the largest app providers in the world, they understood our concerns. Apple helped us understand how these changes provide more options to churches, allowing us to offer solutions for the wide range of needs in churches of all sizes.

Why This Is Good for Your Church

Apple’s newest update gives your church tremendous flexibility moving forward. Churches that choose a standalone app will need to enroll with the Apple Developer Program (providing access to the Apple Store). With an Apple developer account, churches will now have full control and access to their own app experience. So when you’re ready to move to an app that offers an Instagram-esque home screen experience or Facebook/Google integrations, then the switch is pretty seamless for your church. Your church holds the keys to your standalone mobile app.

With more than 7,000 churches ranging in all sizes and denominations, we realize a standalone app may not be the right solution for everyone. Not all churches have the resources or personnel to manage an Apple developer account. In that case, your church can choose our MyChurch app instead, giving your church its first great app experience in as little as a week. We commend Apple’s decision to open up these multiple options for churches.

What You Should Do Next

Publishing a custom app is a bit different now. Your church must first create a developer account with Apple. Then we will work with you to design the app. Once you are happy with it, our engineers will help you submit your app to the App Store using your developer account. Sound challenging? No worries. We are here to work with you every step of the way—from creating an Apple developer account, to design and publication.

If you are a Pushpay customer, contact our Care team to find out the right next step for your church. We have more than 70 people ready to guide you through this process.

Participation and generosity in your church starts with a great mobile experience. We have more than 100 people on our product and engineering team that enable us to quickly create solutions and continue serving thousands of growing churches. As the tech landscape continues to change, our team is committed to delivering the right solutions for your church every step of the way. Our commitment is to help you stay on top of all the change so you don’t have to think about it.

We’re excited for the future of mobile in the church and your ability to connect with your congregation using the latest in mobile technology. Wait until you see the features we have planned over the coming months. Mobile apps are here to stay and are the most effective way to connect with your always on-the-go church family.

Ready to own your own custom church app? Talk to a Pushpay expert today to see how your ministry could drive more community engagement and generosity with a mobile app and giving platform.

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Wes Gay
Copywriter at Pushpay

Wes Gay is a writer and marketing consultant. He is a StoryBrand Certified Copywriter and Guide, helping businesses clarify their marketing message and strengthen their position in the marketplace. As a regular contributor to Forbes.com, he discovers how millennials change the workplace. He lives with his wife and two young sons in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA.