The Hills Church
North Richland, TX
Partner Since: 2014
“We receive really positive comments from members about the app, how useful it is, and how much better it looks than our previous one.”
— Kelly Fann, Director of Communications, The Hills Church
The Hills Church is a multi-campus church with three locations in and around Fort Worth, TX. With more than 5,000 attendees each weekend, including an active Spanish-speaking community, The Hills Church advances their mission through three tenets of worship, community, and service.
With three church sites to manage, The Hills started noticing that their other two locations were feeling separate from the main church campus in North Richland Hills. The Hills had previously invested in a mobile app from Subsplash, but they needed a way to improve the communications between all three campuses in a way that still felt like the message was coming from a unified church body. At the same time, the church was in the process of rebuilding their website and wanted an app solution that could easily integrate with their other systems. “The old app wasn’t as useful or personal,” said Kelly Fann, Director of Communications for The Hills Church. “I’d rather start fresh with something that we can craft in a way that makes sense and matches the other communications we have. We couldn’t do that with The Church App.”
In-app web views
The Hills came to Bluebridge specifically for a mobile app solution that could give them flexibility in how they could build it.
“I liked that I had the freedom to choose my options, while still enjoying the ease of the Mobile App Studio CMS, which allows me to update content for all three of our campuses at the same time. We specifically built the app to align with our discipleship process,” said Fann.
Fann and her team began exploring what a person’s journey into the church looked like, from a new visitor’s first day at the church to full assimilation, and how the app could aid in their experience. What would a newcomer want immediate access to? With a goal of improving the first-time guest experience, The Hills built their app to act as a comprehensive tool so users could do everything from ask questions to become a member.
“The app is helpful for me to know how the guest experience should flow,” said Fann. “Our new website will look a lot more like how the app looks.”
One of the things Fann appreciates most about having a Bluebridge app is the ability to integrate content from their other systems, making updates easier and viewing more seamless.
“There are a ton of different things that can be done because of the in-app web view feature. It’s very helpful and makes it really easy to integrate what you already have,” said Fann.
With their website under construction and a printed announcement sheet that most members don’t pick up anymore, the church now relies on their mobile app to disseminate information.
“If you have a phone, you have the announcements,” said Fann. “Because the information is in their phones, they can save it and have a place to look at it again later,” said Fann. The Hills now prints less bulletins (about 800 copies for an average of 3,500 attendees at the main campus) because most were being thrown away.
Promotion and Launch
With a strong digital and multi-channel presence already, The Hills knew they needed to properly and regularly promote their app to the congregation in order to gain full adoption, usership, and return on investment. By strategizing first and beginning with a “soft launch” of the app, The Hills has seen tremendous success and adoption of the mobile app.
The church began by first launching the app to staff only, with the main goal of familiarizing roughly 20% of the overall church before really promoting it so that when others began accessing the app and had questions, they would be able to help.
Once they were ready to fully launch, The Hills began promoting the new app in their paper announcement sheets, on stage during services, and through social media.
“We’re trying to make all of our channels work together. It makes volunteering and participating easy,” said Fann. “The app has definitely increased our Facebook engagement because we encourage people to share app content with their friends.”
In keeping with their One Million Chapters program, which challenges The Hills members and friends to collectively read one million Bible chapters in 2015, the church implemented a “Psalm a Day” program in the summer of the same year to encourage additional reading. The program, which featured a reading calendar with daily suggested readings based on the Psalms, was able to stay top-of-mind for participants through regular push notifications that kept them on track. More than just reminders, however, the push messages even featured actual chapters from the Psalms with actionable buttons that would take users to bible.com to continue reading or log their chapters.
“People love the push notifications. We even have friends and family around the country who follow us and comment when they like something they see in the app,” said Fann.
Teaching Through the App
Because each of their church campuses is so different and their main campus in North Richland Hills is so big, Fann wanted to ensure that all members across the church were hearing the same message and being educated in the same way. Additionally, only about 50% of the people that attend church also attend class on Sundays, so the information wasn’t being received by all.
With the approach of The Hills’ elder elections, Fann began taking material on the subject that they had given to Sunday school teachers, modifying it into “bite-sized” segments over about five or six days, and making it more friendly through the app. At the end of the campaign, after being educated on what elders are and how they benefit the church, members were asked to submit their nomination through the app or on printed cards.
Since launching their app, The Hills has received quite a bit of positive feedback. “We received really positive comments from members about the app, how useful it is, and how much better it looks than our previous one,” said Fann. Additionally, The Hills has also achieved phenomenal results, including:
- Nearly 80% adoption of the mobile app
- 27% of elder nominations submitted via app
- 3,900 app downloads
- Increased Facebook engagement and social sharing
Going forward, Fann and her team plan to continue revamping their website by building three separate sites for each campus, plus a site specifically for guests. Despite their growing congregation, Fann aspires for the communications to become even more personal through email campaigns and push notifications that are targeted by campus and specific user preferences.
adoption of the mobile app
of elder nominations submitted via app