When snowstorms dumped more than eight feet of snow on metro Boston during the early months of 2015, much of the area felt the pinch. Schools closed. Businesses closed. Payroll dropped an average of seven percent.
But forgotten among the impact of the Blizzard of 2015 was how hard it hit churches. Much of the snow hit on weekends.
That meant church attendance dropped, offerings plummeted, and engagement fell off the map.
“I think if I said ‘devastating,’ that would be an understatement,” Monsignor Paul Garrity, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church, told The Boston Globe.
Garrity says the storms cost his church $13,000 from cancelled or lightly attended worship services. The church lost another $3,000 or more from cancelled bingo events.
As tough as it is to deal with the loss of offerings, the loss of overall engagement in the weeks surrounding Christmas can be even more devastating. Your church begins to gain momentum with a great Christmas service—and bang! You lose it after a freak snowstorm.
But here’s the good news. Church engagement is no longer limited to what happens within the building walls. Thanks to an effective mobile app, your church can connect with your community at all times. These five features are a critical part of your effort to do this:
First and foremost, your mobile app can help you get the word out about any cancellations of worship services or other events. No more phone call chains. No more allowing people to brave the elements only to arrive at a locked building. You can send an alert from the comfort of your pajamas and let everyone know of the cancellations at the same time.
But notifications don’t just help with cancellations. They help you push information about other church service opportunities out to your members. Make those notifications actionable (where you link it to an action on your app), and you’ll likely blow your engagement potential through the roof even when people can’t make it into your church building.
Many churches have been streaming worship services for close to two decades, but mobile technology has redefined the experience in new ways in the past few years. Now your community can attend worship services even if they’re not in your building or in front of a computer screen.
In recent months, as hurricanes have hit Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico particularly hard, we’ve seen churches use livestreaming to get people involved in worship without endangering them. Difficult winter storms aren’t a time when churches should be silent. Your community needs an opportunity to worship almost as much as they need food and shelter during the storm. Your mobile app should provide you an opportunity to meet that need.
3. Mobile giving
If your church still depends upon an offering plate to collect weekly giving, a snowstorm will hit you hard. Most churches budget with the assumption they’re collecting funds 52 weeks a year. One or two missed Sundays because of a snowstorm can really impact a church’s ability to meet its financial obligations.
Allowing people to give to your church through their mobile devices not only means you’re aligning your methods with the primary way people make financial transactions today, but it also means giving isn’t limited to times when people walk through your doors.
When natural disasters come, prayer is a critical part of our ministry together as a church. When people aren’t able to come together at your place of worship to pray together, they need to be able to share their prayer needs with others in the church. Your app can be a key place where this happens.
5. Social media feeds
Social media has become the default place for most of us to stay up to date on what’s happening in the lives of those we care about. In a time of crisis, like a major storm, this is particularly true. The problem for churches comes when our community has to search out our social feeds in a variety of places.
Integrating all of your social feeds into your mobile app can make this process simpler, particularly during a time of crisis. This makes it easier for you to keep people up to date on scheduling changes and other important pieces of church news.
Preparing before Disaster Strikes
No one wants to see worship service schedules interrupted by winter storms, but we know it’s possible—maybe even likely—every year.
Are you ready this year?
Talk to a Pushpay expert today to see how your church can get its own custom church app to keep your church engaged, even during the winter months.