I Built an App (and You Can Too)

Sallie Draper (Brookfield, Wisconsin USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Sallie Draper performs system analysis and testing of synod software for the WELS Technology team. Along with WELS CTO Martin Spriggs, she has co-hosted the WELSTech Podcast since its debut in 2008, learning and sharing resources at the intersection of ministry and technology. Sallie graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi, is a married mom of three sons and two lovely daughters-in-law, is a member of Christ the Lord Lutheran Church in Brookfield, WI, and loves llamas.
In June 2019 WELS Lutheran Schools and Technology partnered to host the EdTechLead Summit. One of the key players in the success of the Summit was our mobile app. It held information, locations, and resources from the keynotes, special events, and 80+ sectionals at the event, as well as maps of the venue and details about our sponsors. We updated it throughout the Summit, so the schedule always offered easy access to the next upcoming events. And it allowed us to pull off a virtually paperless conference for the 450+ attendees and vendors.

We did all this with a FREE tool called Glide, which is powered behind-the-scenes by a Google Sheet, of all things. Despite the bargain price tag, the app we created looked professional, and worked on all platforms – iOS, Android, even PC, Chromebook, Mac, and Linux! Check out the EdTechLead app yourself from your smartphone or computer browser here or by scanning the QR Code on the right.

Glide App was a find that was too good to keep secret! I shared it during the Summit IGNITE event, and I'm sharing it here, for the Gospel Outreach with Media Conference, in hopes that others will use it to design mobile apps which support ministry efforts and the spreading of the good news.

Please watch this overview video for a behind the scenes look at the easy app creation process.

As I mentioned in the video, feel free to make a copy of the EdTechLead Glide App Google Sheet, and use it as a starting point for your own app design. Glide is a young product, so I've seen many changes in the few months I've used it. Be sure to tap into the many Glide learning resources for the latest app features and updates.

I'm happy to answer questions, and I'd love to hear about your app ideas. Also, please share links to your Glide App creations so we can all check them out.


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Discussion

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Emily Sanchez (Bethany ) 2019-10-22 12:06:24am
I am so surprised that something like this exists. I think we should show this to high schoolers to see if they have an interest in making apps and that technology wing. This will also expand young minds and create so many resourceful things. Teachers will also be inspired in teaching in different ways. Nursing programs can be taught or used in different ways through apps that are more easy to use and even better free!
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-10-22 11:58:46am
Emily,

I agree wholeheartedly! I'd love to see our churches and schools explore the possibilities of mobile app building with Glide. I'm aware of it being used with band program at Luther High School in Onalaska as well as at Luther Prep School. The Minnesota District Teachers' Conference also made us of Glide. I also think tools like If This Then That (https://ifttt.com) can be used to automate the update of the Google Sheet, which will then display in the app, all without human intervention. So many possibilities!!
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Kate Nusbaum (Bethany Lutheran College ) 2019-10-22 4:08:32pm
I'm glad to hear that building an app has become easier than ever! I wonder how we could apply this knowledge to churches and schools that don't have much media experience, such as having an app for an individual church or school that includes basic information, service times, and a potential streaming link? I know that there is a WELS app online, but it would be interesting to see churches have their own app; they can personalize it to match the energy of their congregation.
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-10-24 12:55:01pm
Kate - I hope to develop a prototype app for a church and school to share on the next episode of the WELSTech Podcast - set to be released on November 6 (https://welstech.wels.net). Stay tuned!! :-)
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Kylie Kozinski (Martin Luther College) 2019-10-23 6:33:00pm
I truly believe that this will be an extremely helpful device for future evangelism in the church. You have done a great job in sharing the knowledge that you have in the app building process!

Do you plan on contacting anyone in the WELS to try and get this into a WELS Connection video for churches to be able to see?

Thank you again for your wonderful help and I plan on taking full advantage of this.
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-10-24 12:52:28pm
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kylie.

This likely won't make it on WELS Connection, but we do plan to dedicate our next episode of the WELSTech Podcast (https://welstech.wels.net) to the topic of Glide Apps. Please watch for it on November 6, 2019 - Episode 614.

I'd love to check out the app you develop, so please share a link!
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Daniel Olson (BLC) 2019-10-28 11:49:54pm
I think that the ability for anyone to go out and do something outside of their comfort zone is so big nowadays. This kind of technology is being used all throughout schools, and it is definitely opening more doors for people. When I was in high school, I took a program where we built an app; this sparked interest in computers which in turn lead me to BLC. It just shows how this technology can help better society as a whole.
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-10-29 5:36:44pm
Daniel, I think it's awesome that you discovered your interest in technology through your experience building an app. Our world definitely need tech savvy Lutheran leaders. Blessings on your studies!
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Rajeev Giri (Bethany Lutheran college) 2019-10-28 11:51:01pm
I always believe that to make an app we should do a lot of programming. It is good to know how we can build apps in such a easy way. It will be extremely helpful for community to develop their own application.
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-10-29 5:40:10pm
Rajeev -

I'm with you thinking app building was too difficult for me and too expensive. Glide Apps solves both challenges. And they just keep getting better. Yesterday they announced Data Editing capabilities and published this YouTube playlist with overview videos of the new capabilities - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcBir5E8apo&list=PL9fJR6JJ89mWeOLWUye2N-lpK8Xw5JC9N. I'm so excited for the potential these capabilities unlock!!

Please share a link to your app if you create one! Blessings!
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Chris (BLC D.E. Student) 2019-11-05 1:25:01am
In today’s spiritually starving world, it is a blessing that these programs exist. They provide us with an opportunity to spread God’s word and message. Glory to be God who has gifted us with such wonderful technology and now we have another facet to spread the gospel!
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-11-05 6:23:04pm
Thanks for your comments, Chris. You are correct that God gives us great gifts for spreading the gospel. Will you be creating an app for this purpose? If not, who can you encourage to create a ministry app?
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Chris Lopez (BLC DE Student ) 2019-11-11 5:30:15pm
For sure! Thank you for exposing me to this!
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Virginia Chourio (Divine Savior Academy) 2019-11-05 11:49:48pm
Good Evening. I am amazed you were able to make an app from scratch that works on all platforms so easily. It is surprising how much technology has advanced that now it is so simple to create an app that can truly make a difference. For example, with your app, you were not only able to cut down paper use, but also facilitate the lives of the people attending the Summit, which is incredible. I was just introduced to coding, computer science, and the process of developing an application a year ago and I have completely fallen in love with it. I love how people can use both their creative and logical sides to come up with amazing platforms and apps that are then available to the public through the click of a button. One struggle that I was presented with is that as a senior in high school, my friends are looking for careers that allow them to share God's word either directly or indirectly. After giving it some thought, I realized doing this through computer science may not be as successful as incorporating a religious message on a movie or office. Do you have any advice on how to successfully serve God through the field of computer science? Do you think churches and religious organizations such as youth groups would be willing to incorporate technology and applications to their schedules? Thank you!
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-11-06 4:25:44pm
Hi Virginia -

Thanks so much for your question. I'm excited to learn of your interest in Computer Science and in using your gifts to serve the mission of the church!! I can't say that I had that much insight or desire to serve when I was your age, so I really admire that.

My short answer to your question is ... God will provide works for your hands that use the gifts he has given you.

This has been true for me throughout my life. In college I double majored in Math and Secondary Education. Through the years I've held jobs as a high school math teacher, an insurance underwriter and analyst, a mom (almost left this one off, and it's my favorite job ever), and for WELS Technology doing help desk, software testing, podcasting, and a variety of other tasks. Woven throughout those years, God has given me a wide variety of learning opportunities and experience that have allowed me to assist on ministry-related efforts including developing church websites, doing communication planning, and doing software development. My business skills lent themselves well to serving on the board of directors for a thrift store that supports WELS ministries. Eventually I chaired the board and applied and won a large grant to assist the work there. None of those contributions weren't solely because of my Math/computer skills which I developed in college, but my studies served as a springboard which I nurtured/grew with on the job experience and which equipped me to commit to help when needs arose in the church.

All this because God provided and equipped me for doing good works. And I'm confident he will do the same for you!

God bless your studies, Virginia. :-)
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-11-08 1:36:05pm
One more thought, Virginia -

The church needs pastors, teachers, and staff ministers, no doubt. But the church also greatly needs willing and capable lay workers! I can guarantee you that churches are more than willing and extremely blessed to have members spearhead and contribute to tech-related efforts!!
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Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2019-11-12 7:46:17pm
And to Sallie's very important point here let me add: Christian media production requires expertise from a wide variety of skilled lay women and men - in theology of course, but also in music, graphic design, various production skills (director, camera operator, editor, producer, etc.) story-tellers and other writers, people to do background research in history, sociology, psychology and other fields, business managers and fund-raisers - the list goes on. Christian media production provides opportunities for people in nearly any vocation to contribute directly to mission outreach.
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Dylan Miller (Bethany Lutheran College) 2019-11-06 5:36:11am
I feel like technology is something that we so often fail to take advantage of as a church-body. An app is now so easy to make because of this process. I feel like now we can reach a whole new group of people that maybe we were not connecting with before in a much easier fashion. We should utilize all of the resources that we have and this is an incredible opportunity to bring many more people to faith!

Thank you so much for sharing!
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-11-06 4:29:08pm
Dylan, I'm wholeheartedly in agreement with you. It's what made me so excited to share Glide with others! Get those wheels turning and create an app for your church, school, related-ministry to show people how it can be used. Our WELSTech podcast this week has further discussion and an interview with two people who are using Glide in WELS schools in very creative ways. Give it a listen at

https://welstech.wels.net/2019/11/05/614-glide/

Blessings!

Sallie
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Morgan M. (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2019-11-10 6:50:21pm
This is so cool, Sallie! The more the word about this can get out, the better because I can only imagine how many good things the Lord is going to bring out of this!! Thank you! :)
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology ) 2019-11-11 2:54:02am
Thank for your comment, Morgan. I’m counting on you to help me spread the word about using Glide to creat mobile apps to spread the Good News!

Blessings,

Sallie
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Kendall P (Wisconsin Lutheran College ) 2019-11-11 6:18:35pm
Never knew that apps were so easy to create, I would like to start off by saying thank you for this article. There are many bible apps on the market but I’m interested on how we could change it up and make something more appealing to the youth. Technology is the way to reach this generation and I think doing this by spreading the gospel is a great way to do this. Any ideas on what way we can use this platform to expand the word of the gospel, particularly to the youth?
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Sallie Draper (WELS Technology) 2019-11-11 9:55:07pm
Great question, Kendall. The Glide tool has a lot of capabilities. At it's basic level it is a way to deliver content in a mobile-friendly format. So, the real question isn't about the app but about content. There's an old says - "Content is king." So what gospel based content would youth want? The people I know int he youger generation like youtube videos and memes and superheros and ... Finding sources of that kind of content that is Biblically sound (and fun) may be a great place to start when envisioning a teen-focused app.
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