Social media is “a ministry – not an add-on” for the church today, proclaimed Meredith Gould, sociologist, Christian thought leader and author of the book “The Social Media Gospel” in a recent interview on God Complex Radio. Another devout thought leader, Pastor Ed Young Jr., of Fellowship Church, heads up an annual C3 conference to train church leaders about information and social media technology. This technology has connected millions of smartphone users to some forward-thinking ministry apps that go beyond Facebook and Twitter. If you are looking for great free or low-cost Christian media, these five apps deserve consideration. They currently each hold a 4+ rating on a 5-star scale at the iTunes store, based mostly upon user survey responses.
Availability: iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC or Android
App purpose: A rock-oriented Christian radio station with great music featuring new trending artists, and not just the same batch of songs every hour. Wake up service is available with the alarm app.
Pros: The progressive sound appeals to people who dislike commercialized mainstream Christian “pop” music.
Cons: The ultra-progressive sound may not appeal to listeners favoring lighter, less melancholic music. Some of the featured artists’ music is raw and unvarnished, focusing on depressing human struggles and dark issues.
The House FM/Praise 88.7/Christian Radio
Availability: iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android
App purpose: This HD-2 radio signal from Northern Oklahoma radio station “The House FM” features a contemporary hit format focused on the current leading Christian pop and rock artists.
Pros: Talk radio time is limited and relevant. The station format is positive and encouraging.
Cons: The program format has many repeat plays during the day, and may not appeal to listeners seeking a more progressive sound or more variety.
Availability: iPhones, iPod and iPad
App purpose: Although not overtly Christian, this fun app is great for creating interesting videos in a cartoonized format similar to the insurance commercial with talking cartoon people. It is just the ticket for tech lovers interested in creating special effects for a video of their band or youth group skits.
Pros: Unique effects, real-time previews, and nine soundtracks are available, or you can add your own music and share via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or E-mail.
Cons: Filming is easier with a dedicated camera, and editing will be a challenge on a smartphone device. One user said the recorded audio track volume is too low.
Availability: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android
App purpose: Download books from your public or school library. Although public school libraries might not have Christian literature, most public libraries do.
Pros: It includes an audio book reader and 24 x 7 downloads. Automatic returns eliminate late fee concerns, and the page turning is now faster. Reading free downloaded eBooks is a great way to save money.
Cons: Requires iOS 6.0 or later and a valid public library account. Reading eBooks on a smartphone might be difficult, depending on your screen size and personal preferences.
Availability: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Android
App purpose: Choose a category, shake your iPhone and get a scripture verse relevant to what’s happening in your life.
Pros: Reading verses when life gets tough is a great way to soldier on. Many people do not read the Bible often enough. Facebook and Twitter integration enables online sharing.
Cons: Longer readings might be difficult on a smartphone. If used in Church, people might think you are distracted or multi-tasking. Verse selections may be somewhat random.
Guest Post by Caroline Piper
Caroline is a freelance writer based in Western Canada.