Customer Spotlight: Burnt Hickory Baptist Church


This month, we witnessed Burnt Hickory Baptist Church roll out their new app to their congregation, and our jaws were on the floor. The app was beautifully designed, expertly structured, clean, and simple to use, and we couldn't contain our excitement. 

Then, we caught sight of the videos that were used to introduce the app to Burnt Hickory's congregation, and it confirmed our suspicions… they clearly had hired someone from Silicon Valley. It was just way too good.

Curious, we called up Burnt Hickory's IT Director, Theresa Pluckter, to find out just what was going on over there. As it turns out, they hadn't stolen an employee from Apple, but as Theresa put it, "It was a God thing," where the perfect team and the perfect tools came together at just the right time.  

Our conversation turned into this week's Customer Spotlight.

MP: Theresa, this app is amazing! How did it all come together?

Theresa: It’s a really cool story, actually.

Burnt Hickory has a nice, responsive website, and our Executive Pastor, Marty Godfrey, is really tech savvy. He had been tracking our Google Analytics, so he knew where people spent most of their time on the site. We wanted to take all the key places that people visited on our site, and give them that information quickly with an app. We didn’t want to make them have to navigate the website every time, since we saw that mobile usage was growing.

So, every time I go to a conference, I go with the end in mind. I have a question I want answered. So, I went to MPUG last year with the idea that I needed to figure out how to create this app and look at all the different options that were out there.

We were already using Online Giving, and I knew they had an app, but I wanted to look at all the players and figure out who would work well with us. Stephen Ballard at Online Giving introduced us to Dan, his technical guy. We started brainstorming right there at MPUG, and by the end of the conversation I knew we wanted to work with him.

MP: What made you so certain?

Theresa: Online Giving already built an app structure that North Way was using. It could easily integrate our entire MinistryPlatform database with Online Giving’s functionality, and then we could just put our design on top of it and customize it.

I’m a strong proponent of prayer. When you pray, God just makes amazing stuff happen. I remember my Executive Pastor said to me, “Do we need to get some other quotes?” But I just knew this was what we needed to use. This was the perfect combination of someone who understood the app market, someone who understood MinistryPlatform, someone who already integrated with our giving platform and the price was way lower than any other app developers that I looked at.

Online Giving handled the whole thing. Dan is amazing. He already had the basic app features, and we just worked together. He knew the app market and he was able to push it to Apple and Android. The whole thing only took a few weeks.

MP: A few weeks? How long did the entire process take?

Theresa: This past September, we started seriously talking about the app project and what we wanted. Our team – Marty Godfrey, Chip Vincent, Rebecca Meadows and I – defined the project and the requirements. Then we gave Online Giving the info they needed. They built the entire thing in three to four weeks. By the middle of November, it was built.

Our church is a Sunday School model, so everyone attends Sunday School groups each week. It requires a lot of organization. We created twelve tabs that each fulfilled a specific purpose, and we had to fight a lot of scope creep. We wanted this to be a real app experience, and not just a recreation of the website. It allowed us to marry the app to the other website features that people regularly use.

We used our website CMS, StreamSpot live streaming, BHBC social media sites, and MinistryPlatform data. Dan pulled all of that in directly, in addition to creating the new Wayfinder and Sermon Notes features. Congregants can live in our app while at church, and they don’t have to click away to go to Facebook. It’s all in the app.

"The MinistryPlatform database is so flexible - it had all the key things I needed on the back-end to be able to customize the front-end.
It delivered exactly what we wanted."

Dan is familiar with the MinistryPlatform database, so I could just tell Dan that I wanted a certain filter on a certain field. I could give him that information using the MinistryPlatform database with the Advanced Search Tool. He’d go, “That’s exactly what I needed,” and then he would go create what we wanted.

And there is room for growth! We have already expanded the Sermon Notes feature to allow for in-app saving and mission trip giving. We talked about giving the staff additional tabs to take attendance at Small Groups but we decided to wait on those until we could confirm that this is the best tool to fit that need.

"There is huge potential to grow and adapt and change to the way any church wants to do an app."

Once it was built, we spent a little more time getting our procedures and processes in place so we could give people the information they needed in a way they could use it. We came up with the videos in early December.

MP: The videos are stellar! Who did you get to do those?

Theresa: That was a total God thing! We wanted input from different ages and backgrounds to be sure we were covering everything. CJ Crenshaw is really involved in our Service Opportunities at Burnt Hickory, she deals with the entire Serve Community, and when I told her about what we were doing, she suggested that her son, John Mark Crenshaw, do the video roll out. He had done some videos for our High School Team already. They ran with it.

There are twelve tabs on the App, so we divided the information to highlight three tabs each week. We knew that a person attended church one to two times per month, so we wanted to be sure we didn’t miss anyone. The idea was to create these short clips that explained the functionality.

We had a great response. Even the young people at church said it was incredible!

Curious to check out Burnt Hickory’s App? You can find it in the iOS App Store or in the Google Play Store.

Check out the videos that John Mark Crenshaw created for Burnt Hickory's App Rollout. (They're unbelievable!)

For more information on Stephen Ballard and Online Giving, visit