Move over SermonAudio: there’s a new app in town, and this one promises to do more than just deliver church sermons on mobile devices. Introducing ChurchMint, a self-dubbed “communication and discovery platform for churches,” which, along with delivering sermons to your smartphone, also promises to provide directions to nearby churches, list upcoming local events, and offer contact info through phone or email, all in one convenient little app.
According to its Oklahoma City-based creator Vance Lucas, the inspiration to create the platform grew out of a need to help his local church. “You can search ‘church’ in the app store and get tons of church apps in the results, but there is no way to know where the church is physically located, or learn anything about it to see if you want to attend,” he says. For Lucas, it boils down to two things: “helping churches get new people in the door and help them get plugged into a local ministry.”
So what sets this app apart from more established religious platforms like SermonAudio? For one thing, ChurchMint will aim to solve what Lucas dubs “the outreach problem,” that is, helping ancient establishments like a house of prayer embrace modern technology to reach out and maintain their followship. Whereas SermonAudio relies on an already committed audience to stumble upon its site, the new, soon-to-launch app will be a tool for gaining exposure and keeping people involved.
According to Lucas, before ChurchMint, if a church wished to start podcasting, one would have to acquire web hosting somewhere, setup a WordPress blog, install a few plugins, enter the feed URL in iTunes, and continue to maintain that themselves and pay hosting fees for as long as they podcast. “A lot of those steps requires technical knowledge that many churches aren’t likely to have,” said the app maker. With Churchmint, churches can just sign up and upload sermon audio and an iTunes feed format is automatically provided for iTunes submission, simplifying the user experience. And since ChurchMint is a mobile app as well, tha audio will also be available to anyone who finds their church on the app. Same goes for event planning.
In short, ChurchMint removes many of the technological barriers currently in place, allowing churches to spend more time doing what they are made to do: preach to and connect with followers. While SermonAudio’s MyChurch feature brings a degree of personalization in the rapport between believer and church, ChurchMint aims to amp that personalization even further. By introducing custom “ministry groups” such as Men, Women, Children, or Family, users of the app will be able to recieve customized church messages meant for their demographic, opening a new direct and instant communication channel to members and subscribed users that churches have not experienced before. Lucas suspects that the app will help boost attendence.
So how does one make this into a lucrative endeavor? The business model revolves around the app’s freemium SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) concept. What this means is that churches will be able to sign up for and user ChurchMint as an outreach tool for free, but will act as paying customers when it comes to using the app to host sermon audio files. So while in this regard SermonAudio may be free and thus more accessible, ChurchMint’s all-in-one package and subsequent convenience factor may soon give it a run for its money.