A better life is composed of better days. This simple, yet powerful concept helped fuel Crossroads Church’s vision for Crossroads Anywhere— a “spiritual fitness app” that helps users have a better day, every day. By building positive daily rhythms that include prayer, scripture reading, journal prompts, growth challenges, and more, the app is helping people across the country create new habits and strengthen spiritually.
Crossroads was started back in 1995 by a group of 11 friends who wanted a place where they could explore questions about God without having to pretend they had it all together or memorize a bunch of religious lingo. Fast forward to the present day and they're one of the fastest growing churches in America, with 30,000 regular weekly attendees. Playing a role in their continuous growth, we believe, is the real and relatable voice they have in communicating their message (as well as their addictingly good, free coffee).
Unfortunately, fitness apps can’t actually exercise for you. Sigh, we wish. But, they can make exercise a little more accessible and less intimidating by providing coaching, encouragement, and accountability. When Crossroads approached Differential, they wondered if they could build a similar tool, but for people’s spiritual health and wellness. Together we sought out to build an app that guides groups and individuals as they develop spiritual habits and allows people anywhere to connect with the church; access their weekend messages, study guides, and group resources, and enter into a supportive, growing community.
We kickstarted the project with a Discovery Sprint to help us clarify Crossroads’ specific target audience and the app’s strategic “jobs to be done”—such as spiritual fitness exercises, live-stream services, and community-building tools. From there, we launched into a series of “Design Sprints” that allowed us to quickly visualize the key experiences in the app, get user and stakeholder feedback, and then refine the design. This brought us into full development, as we built the backend to support the designs. While we launched the app in early 2017, we continue to deploy, optimize and personalize new experiences in it through weekly design sessions and daily standup meetings. The app features a large amount of uniquely presented content, and the church consistently produces additional material to accompany their service plans. So, rather than requiring a developer to input this content into the application, we built a new interactive experience management system, so that anyone on the Crossroads’ communication team can quickly and independently craft new experiences for the app. We built the app in React Native and GraphQL, two innovative and scalable frameworks developed first by Facebook. Our team of developers created a delivery pipeline which allowed us to safely show new features to Crossroads and move those features into production with low effort and a high level of confidence. Using these technologies and effective delivery methods, in less than seven months, we were able to rapidly iterate and develop a fresh native interface and backend to power the mobile app.
Tens of thousands of people across the country have used Crossroads Anywhere to access Crossroads content and help them grow spiritually by developing a regular routine of prayer, meditation, expressing gratitude, scripture reading and other healthy disciplines. We’re thrilled we can be a part of this mission. Throughout the development of the app, we ensured that user analytics and “big data” were treated as first-class citizens, so our next step is to use this data to provide a user experience that gets better and more personalized, the more the app is used. As we receive feedback and analytics, we continue to improve and add new features. So stay tuned! You can download the app for free in the App Store.