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OPINION

TECHNOLOGY: So, your church wants an app?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Sometimes, the hardest part of any action is simply knowing where to start. Perhaps you've been thinking about branching out and having a mobile app developed for your church. It might be intimidating -- apps are the new, hot thing and you don't want to get it wrong. So let's look at a few options to get you started.
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-- YouVersion.

If you've got a smart phone and a Bible is on it, more than likely you've played with YouVersion's Bible app. Having been installed on more than 30 million mobile devices, and completely free, YouVersion is the king of mobile Bible apps. And while you can't create your own YouVersion app, you can utilize it as a first step into the app world to see how your church responds.

YouVersion has a great feature called YouVersion Live. By visiting YouVersion.com, you can go to the Live Events section and create your own live event. With a growing feature set, you're able to create a basic order of worship and/or sermon outline for display within the app. There are some feedback options, too. By first experimenting with the app you can do research to find out how many people in your congregation are apt to use their phones for things related to your church before investing in a deeper tool.

More information about YouVersion is available at youversion.com.

-- The Roar App.

The Roar App is a customizable app that is cheap and easy to get up and started. The app basically pulls from your church's content, like blogs and podcasts, to create your mobile presence. Roar does not host your podcast or RSS feed, instead it simply pulls in the content you are already creating. With its cheap price and strong reliability, Roar is a great place to start for creating a church information and content app. More information about Roar is available at roarapp.com.

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-- The Church App.

The Church App is very similar to the Roar App, but with the ability and options of much more customization. Though more expensive, the team at the Church App will work directly with you to fully integrate your church's online presence into the app. If you are looking for dedicated, long-term support and custom development for your app, the team at The Church App is the place to start. However, the more hands-on approach means that you need to be more dedicated to the success of your Church's own app as well.

More information about The Church App team is available at thechurchapp.org.

-- Completely Custom Development.

You want to be unique and different -- I understand. You've got a knack for design and want your app to be the next big thing. There's always the option of creating your own from the ground up. It's going to be the most expensive and most time-consuming -- but what's worth doing if it's not worth doing to the extreme, right? There are now services out there that can help connect you with a development team. A few of the more well known ones are:

-- elance.com.

-- guru.com.

-- freelancer.com

I don't recommend you start here if you've never done any kind of digital development before. It's a long and very detailed process; if you don't know what you're getting into it can be very discouraging. Of course, seeing your app icon in the store is totally worth it once it's released to the wild.

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Enjoy the journey of creating your church's first mobile app.

Aaron Linne is executive producer of digital marketing for the B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. He writes a monthly technology column for Baptist Press.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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