Serve app moves sign-up sheet online

By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist

Organizing volunteers for a missions or service project can be a daunting task. A new application called Serve hopes to make it easier.

The Serve app was developed by Church of the Highlands, a nondenominational multisite church headquartered in Birmingham. Ron Hogland, outreach director of Church of the Highlands, said the app was developed to help Highlands organize volunteers for Serve Day, an annual day of ministry when the church “goes out into our communities and loves our neighbors.”

Staying connected

“The projects have been largely executed by our small groups,” Hogland said. “However, we have members who are not in small groups during the summer months, and there has been a need for a better way to get them connected to a project.”

The lack of communication between team leaders and volunteers hindered planning, said Linda Harrison, a member of the Highlands’ Fultondale Campus and financial administrator for The Alabama Baptist.

“The team leaders wouldn’t know how many they would have coming until the folks got there,” Harrison said.

The Serve app solves that communication problem by creating something similar to a virtual sign-up sheet, she said.

“With the app, the team leader can say how many folks they need and if someone is looking for a project they can check out the app, decide on a project, click to participate and the numbers are updated in real time,” Harrison said.

She likes that the projects are searchable by activity, so if a volunteer wants to clean, paint or do yard work, for example, they can search projects by those tasks.

“For a church member, it makes it easy to find the Serve project of your choice. You know what you are going to do and who you are going to help,” Harrison said.

Though the app was created for Highlands’ Serve Day effort, the church wanted other churches to have access to the tools so they too could have an easy way to organize and communicate with volunteers, Hogland said. Regardless of church size, the Serve app is a way to connect people within the church to those outside it.

“The Serve Day app is just another tool we want other churches to have to help share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people in their communities,” he said.

Interested churches can download the Serve app free from Google Play or Apple’s App Store. The user then registers within the app by signing up for an account. Once the account is active, users can create projects, adding details including project name, description, team leaders and ages appropriate for the project. Other options include number of people, skills, supplies and tools needed for the project.

The process is similar for volunteers, who first sign up for an account then choose their church name. Within that area users can view a list of projects offered and sign up all within the app.
Volunteers will see their projects listed in the “My Serve” area of the app.

Another feature is that team leaders and team members can communicate within the app, similar to social media platforms like Facebook that allow in-app messaging. Churches utilizing the app also can choose a web domain address (“”) that can be linked to a church website and take volunteers directly to church-created projects.

Wide variety of contexts

Additionally, ideas and resources for teams are posted to the Serve Day blog at and to the website, which both feature how-tos and considerations for serving in a wide variety of contexts.

The Serve app and additional resources are all part of Church of the Highlands’ mission to proclaim the gospel by meeting needs in local communities, Hogland said.

“Through these acts of service, we hope people’s hearts will be opened to the love of Jesus.”