Why Crossroads Built a Spiritual Fitness App Instead of Church App

Insights from designing and developing the world's first spiritual fitness app.
David Woody

Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, OH was named the fastest-growing church in America two different times since 2015. If you’re like me, you may be asking what’s their secret sauce? How have they achieved this growth? What strategies do they use? What’s their mindset?

A culture of innovation and entrepreneurship has always propelled Crossroads forward: push the envelope, think from first principles, and don't follow the pack just because. Crossroads' approach to building the world's first Spiritual Fitness app is no different.

The Strategy Behind Building the App

While development of the Crossroads Anywhere mobile app started before the Apollos Project existed, their innovation and leadership helped pave the way for some of the experiences we are launching on Apollos these days.

I led the mobile app team from 2014 until 2021 (and recently jumped back in to cover for a colleague out on maternity leave. Woo Baby!). So here are a few insights from the last nine years designing and developing the world's first spiritual fitness app for the fastest-growing church in America.

1. Attendees are not “building” or “digital” people. They’re just people. People use the tools available to them.

2. Most “church apps” aren’t used daily, because they focus on content distribution instead of community/user engagement. People don’t just want more church content to consume in an app.

3. Consumers are using mobile apps like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat. They're connecting with people and communities on these apps, but church apps don't tap into this user behavior.

We took these core insights to develop our core strategy. Our strategy was to focus on helping people have a better day, every day. Better days. Better Weeks. Better Life. This was our mantra.

How Daily Habits Improve Spiritual Health

Reading, watching, and listening to more church content — while great itself — was not going to cut it. We had to give people a practice. A habit. Something they could do everyday to connect with God and each other. You won't stay physically fit unless you have routines and habits around physical exercise. The same is true for Spiritual Health.

So we focused on core spiritual disciplines proven to lead to spiritual health:

1. Reading Scripture

2. Praying for Others

3. Practicing Gratitude

But doing this alone is not enough, because it's easy to stop without some kind of accountability. We focused on social encouragement. That's why we build social sharing into every core experience of the app.

For example, sharing journals on scripture led to more people reading scripture daily. It also helps people get more out of scripture because they could read the top journals shared in the app each day. The same is true for the Prayer and Gratitude experiences as well. Brian Tome, Senior Pastor, shares his journals on the Crossroads Anywhere app, helping people engage with scripture every single day. Not just on Sundays.

Build Your Spiritual Fitness App

So why did Crossroads build a Spiritual Fitness app? Because they wanted to give people a simple way to connect with God and real community every day. Not just on Sunday.

Your church can help people connect with God and real community every day too. Help your community have better days, better weeks, and better lives through the Apollos Platform.

Chat with our team to see what Apollos can do for you.

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