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Brazilian startup offers technological solutions for churches

Sao Paulo, Brazil

While a lack of access of digital technologies – and hence an inability to virtually connect with comgregants – has long been a problem for many Brazilian churches, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 futher exposed the gap as in-person religious services were suspended.

In response to the issue, the founders of a startup called inChurch developed a set of solutions – including web systems and a smartphone app – to help ministers to better organise their operations and communicate with churchgoers. Such has been their success that the company now provides assistance to around 30,000 religious institutions in 23 countries and is preparing to open its first international office in the US.

Brazil Pedro Franco and Sydney de Menezes

Pedro Franco (left) and Sydney de Menezes. PICTURE: Supplied.

The InChurch journey started when Pedro Franco and Sydney de Menezes first met at an evangelical church in Sao Paulo years ago. De Menezes had worked in Christian businesses including publishing houses and record companies for years and knew well what the churches’ main challenges were.

“He once told me about the lack of communication in the churches. Many times, a business owner is looking for a worker to hire and an unemployed person is desperate for a job – and the two of them are side by side in the church, without knowing that they would be able to solve each other’s problem,” Franco recalled.

In 2013, they founded a businesses and services guide with filters for religion and church, with the idea of allowing users to find and select only shops owned by Christian entrepreneurs, for instance.

The guide found success among many evangelicals and the duo learned more and more about their problems and needs.

“We saw churches with 20,000 churchgoers which did not have a website and still used paper sheets to do their financial management,” Franco said. In 2017, they created inChurch. 

Their idea is to offer complete solutions for the most common needs among ministers. Tools for organising, publicising, and managing church events; a communications channel that allows reliable contact between pastor and churchgoers; a platform with educational contents to incentivise the permanent formation of the churchgoers and their engagement in church activities along the week; an app for collecting and managing donations.

“There are also platforms that allow live transmissions, sending notifications, sharing news, and asking for prayers or spiritual support,” Franco added.

All such possibilities have been fundamental to keep communities active during the worst phases of the pandemic.

Vanilda Sganzerla, in charge of the communications at YAH Church, said that the inChurch app was the tool that allowed the fast exchange of information during a serious challenge faced by her community.

“Before the pandemic, our church suffered with a great inundation. We lost many things, including our server. One month after that, came the COVID-19 outbreak,” she told Sight.

The app allowed the churchgoers to mobilise and coordinate the church’s reconstruction, and also kept congregants involved with the church activities during lockdowns.

“Now, we are operating in a hybrid model, virtual and in person. The app connects both universes,” Sganzerla described.

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Wesley Oliveira, who coordinates communications at Igrejas de Nova Vida (Churches of New Life, in Portuguese), said that the solutions provided by inChurch have been very important to strengthen the relations between the church’s council and each one of the communities.

“Many churches do not have the resources needed to implement a technology like that. But the council was able to do it in order to have a better communication with them. Now, they are using it to communicate with churchgoers, so it was good for everybody,” Oliveira described.

The company has received bulky investments from funds and now has a team with more than 100 people. Its products are available in Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French, although it still does not offer support in other idioms. Small communities and mega churches are among its clients.

The company now plans to open an office in Orlando, Florida, where it will first operate with its educational branch, called UninChurch.

“It consists of training classes for church leaders, including communications, management, and courses for pastors,” de Menezes explained. 

Their goal, of course, is to gradually expand activities in the United States and other countries, becoming a global company.

In his opinion, the digital environment is as significant as the physical one.

“The digital world is where most people are now. We want to bring those people to the church,” he reflected.



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