THE Church of England pulled back the covers of the much heralded revision to A Church Near You, and the result is a nice clean layout with additional information. But you need to know where to look.
One feature of the new site is that it really can find a church near you: using location-based services on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, the site will work out where you are and produce a list of churches near you — together with a map showing where they are.
The map was not particularly helpful to me when I tried the website on my mobile phone in central London: the map was awash with diamonds that obliterated any sense of where in London you were looking on the map. Finding details about the churches was also difficult. At first, I thought that details of services must be missing; so I tried it on a laptop, and there was a host of additional information that did not seem to be present on the mobile version.
Undeterred, I went back to the mobile and discovered a “menu” button, hidden away behind three lines. Those lines indicate menu on most apps; but I hadn’t expected that details of a church that was already in the display would be hidden away behind a menu.
But, all in all, the app does contain more details than its precursor — including the ability to add the location of events; so special services or events in schools, market places are community centres can now be added with greater clarity.
There is also a space for special Christmas services. This is being supported by a marketing campaign by the Church House communications department; so, if your church hasn’t added details, you are really missing an open door, when it comes to simple evangelism.
If your church isn’t engaging with A Church Near You, you need to ask yourself why not.
There are still a couple of weeks in which to take advantage of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Sydney’s free digital Advent calendar. Its XT3 Advent app provides daily readings, a reflection, and a video or image to help you “prepare your heart for Christ”.
You can open a window only once you have reached the date in question; but if you download it now, you will be able to open all windows from 3 December to the present day. The app continues to 7 January, and is available on both Android and iOS.
I wonder how many parents read the classic poem “’Twas the night before Christmas” to their children on Christmas Eve? It was a mainstay of Christmas celebrations as our children were growing up. Now, there is a Twas the Night Before Christmas app, produced by Moving Tales, to help bring the story alive.
The app includes fantastic imagery, an orchestral backing tape, and three versions of the story. You can personalise it by recording your own voice, or you can simply play it with sound effects so that you read the story live. The $US3.99 app is available only on iOS.