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Choosing Between A Values-Based Agency or Individual to Build Your Ministry’s App

Enlisting an individual to build your ministry’s web or mobile application might seem like a good idea, at least on the surface. You can likely find someone in your network (through your church, in your community, via a trusted friend, etc.) who can quickly stand up a serviceable app. However, the benefits of partnering with an established, missionally compatible agency quickly outweigh any potential pros of working with an individual. 

From their breadth of technical expertise to their deep bench of diverse experts, agencies are able, in the long run, to provide significantly more value for your ministry than any one person could.

When Is a Freelance Developer Sufficient for Your Ministry?

As noted, your ministry will need to partner with an agency for your development needs in the long run. But there are some scenarios where hiring an individual is okay, particularly in the short term. 

If your ministry is new and simply needs a business card website or proof-of-concept, an individual developer can probably get you online faster and cheaper than an agency can. You can then use your basic site (or app) to garner additional funding and make your mission known more widely. Again, this is a good use of a freelancer. 

How Do You Know When It’s Time for an Established Agency?  

Every ministry intent on stability and growth will reach a point where they require an agency to build and nurture their digital presence. Working with an established agency is the only way to holistically strategize your hallmark app—one with the functionality and flexibility you need long-term. 

How will you know your ministry has outgrown working with an individual contractor? When you’re in need of implementers and maintainers, not just visionaries. Here’s what we mean:

Organizations are made up of visionaries, implementers, and maintainers. Visionaries do big-picture thinking. They pursue goals aggressively, and they pursue aggressive goals. Implementers come in behind visionaries and systematize the vision. They make things repeatable and pleasant to look at, generally concerning themselves with more practical details. Finally, maintainers keep the systems implementers established running forevermore. Each of these groups is important. 

If your ministry is in a visionary stage, you can likely get away with hiring a visionary individual who can take the idea and run far and fast to build the app you need at the moment. But that’s no way to pave a perennially serviceable road. 

Once you realize your ministry needs an honest-to-goodness web or mobile app rooted in a project with guardrails, safety valves, and strategy, you’re ready for an agency. 

3 Benefits of Working with a Missionally Aligned Agency

Again, every ministry can benefit from using an agency eventually. It’s simply a matter of when their tech requirements call for more resources. When you bring an agency on board, you’ll realize so many benefits, including the three that follow. 

As a ministry, partnering with the right external development firm can mean even more than just getting the app your org needs. It can mean finding a group that’s an extension of your team from a mission perspective. One that holds space for the same values as you and desires a fruitful relationship that yields technology capable of spreading your ministry’s message far and wide. And not just for the sake of a solid day’s work, but for kingdom-oriented purposes, too. 

1. Deep and Varied Technical Expertise  

An individual can only know so much about app development. Even if they’re extremely experienced, they’re still just one person. 

A well-established agency, on the other hand, has multiple experts with varying specialities. Consequently, an agency tends to be more well-rounded from a technical perspective. They simply have more employees, which means more experiences with a wider array of tech solutions. Quality agencies staff folks who understand: 

  • App and web accessibility
  • Responsive design 
  • APIs and their integrations with consumable services 
  • How to avoid or minimize technical debt 

An added benefit of having more employees? The work on your ministry’s project doesn’t stop just because someone goes on vacation or leaves the agency. Others are able to cover in the event of employee absence. The same can’t be said for working with an individual. If they’re absent, work halts. 

2. Diverse and Experienced Employees

It’s not just that the best agencies have multiple employees. It’s that these employees come from diverse walks of life, especially in the world of Christian-based agencies like Agathon

Why should staff diversity matter to you? The diversity of the employees’ experiences gives them particular insight into your ministry’s unique needs. The employees can draw on their backgrounds and learnings from serving other ministries in the same space, other ministries in different spaces, and even for-profit or enterprise companies. 

All the diverse experiences employees bring to the table lead to the best possible outcomes for your organization. Conversely, one person only brings one perspective to the table, which might not be enough to ideate the effective tech solutions your ministry needs. 

3. Values You Can All Agree On 

As we touched on before, the right agency to serve your org’s development needs will also be aligned with your ideals, which is critical to maintaining the sacredness of your mission and ministry. 

Many individual contractors lack an online presence that speaks to their prior work (if they have any) in the Christian ministry space. Further, an individual might be associated with your ministry through a friend, or a friend of a friend, as mentioned. But in today’s day and age, that unfortunately does not guarantee their values are aligned with your ministry’s. 

An agency that’s right for you is already operating in your ministry’s orbit and the Christian non-profit space. Importantly, their website provides proof of their alignment with your values through case studies and purpose statements. Their social media presence is also a good indicator of their values. 

It comes down to the fact that the right agency is more intentional about pursuing work that matters. For your ministry, that means your Kingdom-building work is understood and amplified. 

A Boutique Agency for Your Ministry’s Development Needs 

Agathon can be the values-based agency you need to build your website or app. We staff technical experts from various walks of life. And we care deeply about furthering your mission. Because ultimately it’s our mission, too.

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