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Bridging the gap

The Bridge App Connects Ministries and Individuals across Canada.

Christian Reformed churches across Canada are using a new local, missional and relational tool to connect with their members and communities, bridging the gap from Sunday to Sunday with instant sharing of announcements, events, and prayers.

The Bridge App is a project of the CRC’s Canadian Ministries and Extreme Technology, an information technology company based in Beamsville, Ontario. Once a church has come on board with the app, users can see information such as prayer requests, announcements, and directories for their own congregation. The app can also facilitate live streaming or recordings of services and sermons, and online giving to the local church or denominational causes.

Canadian Ministries Director Darren Roorda is excited to see churches and individuals embracing the technology, using it to build community, and even suggesting improvements and updates – something he encourages. “I had been praying to God to supply a serious communications opportunity for the CRCNA,” he said. “Literally, this was an answer to prayer.”

For Scott Holmes, president of Extreme Technology and a member of Providence CRC in Beamsville, the idea for an app to serve the church came naturally. He and his team had been developing software to help corporations connect with their vendors, and saw an opportunity to repurpose some of what they were working on to serve local churches. “We had a platform that was designed to serve and communicate,” he said. “We had pieces to a puzzle that God was working on assembling with us.”

Around the same time, Holmes became the director of digital technology at Providence CRC, and spent much of his time finding ways to improve how technology was used in his church, brainstorming with others, and trying different concepts. When he began working with Canadian Ministries, rolling the app out into use, further refinement continued.

Classis Niagara was the first classis, or regional group of churches, to use the app, and provided feedback and suggestions that were considered and implemented before the tool was opened to other classes across Canada. Today, 51% of Canada’s CRC churches, church plants, and campus ministries are onboard.

Online security is a real concern when sharing information, so confidential information is protected by offering two categories of users: verified users and guest users. This allows church members to access and share information safely, while also fostering connections with the neighbouring community. To allow for maximum use, the app is available on both Apple (iOS 8.2 or later) and Android (4.3 and up).

Response to the app from churches and users has been positive, says Dorothy Vandersteen, The Bridge App Program Manager. She has heard positive comments on loading time, ease of use, convenience of the tools available through the app, and connection to the church. “It’s my go to Christian app,” said one user. Holmes has seen an increase of 300% in the use of livestream viewers at his own church since the app was launched.

“The real value of the app will be discovered not just by downloading it, but by using it as a strong means of daily and weekly use in the congregation,” noted Roorda. “This takes a little bit of work and a lot of intentionality.”

This article was made possible in partnership with the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

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