Guitar Hero meets Church App

Trace Jackson

It all started two years ago when Willow Creek did this thing, this Handbell Hero thing. Think: Guitar Hero using your smartphone. Music notes would scroll on a big screen in the room, and everyone in the seats would shake their smartphone like a handbell in time with the notes. An app on their phones would measure their accuracy in keeping time with the music.

Well, the creative team at Northwoods Church got wind of this and just had to do it for their 2018 Christmas show!

So in September they began discussing a “Christmas at Northwoods” app. Until they realized, “Wait a minute! We’re asking 30,000 people to download an app that’s not going to be used beyond Christmas. If we’re going to invest those kind of resources, why not build it into the Northwoods church app?”

They had already landed on using PocketPlatform for their church app, and had been working with them on content. So they circled back to PocketPlatform Team and presented them with their idea. Jason Lee at Northwoods said that they had “worked on a couple of projects with us so they know I’m a little crazy.”

Well, sometimes crazy pays off, Jason.

Handbell Hero was the pre-show feature for all 11 of their Christmas shows, which saw almost 35,000 people in attendance. That’s 30% of their city’s population!

The room was divided into sections that competed against each other for accuracy while the band played live for the game. It was a huge hit. You could hear the laughter all around the room. Wanna check it out? This was their 10th show, click for the vid:

Guitar Hero meets Church App

And this was just the pre-show activity. We can only imagine what the Christmas show was like.

But here’s the best part: They went from appx 240 active installs at the beginning of 2018 (between iOS and Android) to 3,632 at the end of the year. And as Northwoods entered their 21 Days of Fasting they were able to deliver resources right onto people’s phones, leveraging the increased reach all those installs provided to make ministry happen!

And because PocketPlatform is fully integrated with MinistryPlatform, all the data collected is now in Northwoods’ database.

Scott Logan from PocketPlatform said, “Northwoods was incredibly strategic in how they launched their app. By providing a fun and engaging reason for people to initially download the app and then immediately following it up with their daily prayer and fasting devotional, they had one of our most successful launches yet. This has definitely become a model for how we recommend other churches promote and launch their apps as well.”

The apps and the gadgets and the games are fun. And they should be. But using them for the kingdom is what really gets us excited.

Jason said, “We proved we could do it. Now what are we going to do to top it?” We can’t wait to find out the answer.

Well done, Northwoods.