What I've Been Up To
Ryan Hayden • October 29, 2022development church projects
A month ago, I spent a few days in a children's hospital with my son. I had a lot of time to think, and these or some of the things I thought:
1. I really want to code again.
Its been three years since I worked on a project with complete autonomy. I've spent those years learning a ton about making software while managing a team of developers. But I really miss being able to just open a text editor and create something useful.
I want to see what's possible for one guy to do using modern tooling, good product design and as many helps as possible.
2. I really want to make something that somehow enhances church life.
I'm not interested in church marketing. I'm not interested in the flashy and the new. I want to make something that takes the very basics of what a church is (worship, prayer, Bible teaching, fellowship) and helps people do it better. Something that would benefit a large church in a suburb as well as a church of thirty that's two hours from anywhere.
3. I really despise sharing prayer requests on social media.
If you've ever had a kid going through a major health crisis, then maybe you can understand this. A sick kid is an attention magnet. A sick kid garners all kinds of sympathy. That's not always what you want when you are dealing with problems. I really want to update the people I know in real life about my son's condition, but facebook magnifies that in a way that (I think) is unhealthy.
While I'm at it, I despise Facebook. It's all ads for things I don't want. Political posts from people who don't really know anything about politics or show off pictures of people's vacation or new home.
Further, I currently have 1,773 facebook "friends." Many of them are old class mates, or distant family members, or people I went to church with at some point, but just as many of them are acquaintances or even strangers. But I can't possibly care about 1,773 people.
4. I really miss the churchtools.co prayer app.
Years ago I made a simple app for prayer requests. Basically, it was just a database for managing a church's prayer request list that outputted a PDF you could print out as a bulletin for a prayer meeting. That little app saved me (or a volunteer or secretary) at least 30 minutes every week. I know a lot of other churches liked it too. Of all the things I've made for churches, that was probably the most unique and the one thing I wish never died. I really wish I had developed that idea.
I think you can see where all this is going...
I decided it was time to make an app again.
So, for the last month, I've been getting up at 5:00a.m. six days a week so I could get a few hours in on the church prayer app before work. I didn't want to tell anyone about it, because I've announced a few things that never got built. (Still hoping to get Mission Hosts off the ground - that one's a bit more technically challenging than this one is.)
But now I feel like I've gotten enough done that the finish line is in sight and I'm ready to start talking about it.
So what is the church prayer app?
The church prayer app is a very basic social network, where the only other people are people in your local church and the only thing you can share are prayer requests and encouraging comments/questions about prayer requests.
- It's not a CRM.
- It's not a marketing tool.
- It's not flashy and cutting edge.
It's just me taking the church prayer list, something that has probably existed (and been a slight hassle to keep up with) since the book of Acts and using the power of software to teach it some new tricks. New tricks like:
- Auto-archiving prayer requests.
- Sending SMS notifications for urgent requests.
- Comments and a likes system.
- iOS and Android apps.
- Content moderation so it doesn't grow out of control.
- PDF generation for bulletin inserts/prayer meeting handouts.
- A weekly prayer request email for those who don't want to be part of the app.
- Exporting to InDesign/Affinity Publisher (and some starter templates) for larger churches.
When will it be ready?
I'm aiming to have it ready for my church to start using by the end of next week, and after testing it thoroughly, turning it on for the masses at the end of November.
What will you call it?
I'm planning on just calling it "The Church Prayer App." (I own thechurchprayerapp.com)
How much will it cost?
I'm planning on the basic functionality being free. If you just want to use it as a church prayer network - that won't cost anything.
But I will be adding premium features that will come as part of an affordable premium plan (less than $10 per church per month.) Those features will definitely include customization, printing handouts, sending SMS messages, and some other features that will help the church staff manage the list.
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