Most of us remember the saying, “Here is the church, here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.” Now, you could add, “see all the people on their smart phones or iPad’s.”
It’s no secret; mobile technology is everywhere you turn. But is the church utilizing technology to fulfill the mission and ministry God has called it to?
Between church programs, dinners, small groups, missions, etc., many churches claim they’ve got no time left to invest in digital platforms. If time and lack of staffing aren’t the reasons for not utilizing technology, funds often are. Many churches don’t see a website, mobile app, social media, and other digital platforms as priorities to their mission.
While time, money, and experience are realistic hurdles some churches face, those who choose not to represent their church digitally fail to connect, serve, and engage the community fully.
Traditionally, connecting comes through worship, prayer time, and fellowship. Churches thoughtfully design the activities that engage their community, but without digital outreach, it’s possible these efforts will fall flat. While the programs, teaching, small groups, and mission of your church will always be its heartbeat, a combination of traditional and technological platforms reaches people best. Most churches would agree that connecting to your church and community should involve a website, but few utilize other technological tools. As a result, a church community fails to connect with younger generations and the growing number of adult church members turning to mobile devices.
Growing your church is easier said than done. In the past, churches have sent teams of people to canvas neighborhoods or have relied on their members to pass out flyers to Easter passion plays, Christmas cantatas and Super Bowl parties. That’s still fine, but with the Internet, mobile apps and Facebook, among others, many new people to your community may actually be looking for you. Deciding not to engage with community members on these platforms keeps you from putting your best foot forward.
For those at all stages of church technology use, here are a few things to consider:
- Make sure you have a clean, simple church website that is kept up-to-date. If nothing else, church websites are a simple, effective way to communicate your church’s mission, location, and activities. Now more than ever, first-time guests will check your website before attending. For members, websites can be an excellent way to connect around church events and activities.
- Move beyond the traditional website. We now have tools such as Twitter, Facebook, texting and e-mail that allow you to send messages and engage with your congregation.
- Consider a mobile app. Mobile apps are easy to access on mobile phones or tablets and offer tools like a prayer request wall, event calendar, the ability to upload photos, read the pastor’s blog, watch or listen to sermons, stream services and allow for social media integration. That puts everything the church does in one ecosystem, allowing for one touch point to the member.
- Brainstorm on how you can use technology missionally. When you’re on a mission trip, stream the Sunday morning services from your church on your smart phone and have a translator relay the sermon to the locals in attendance. Download the YouVersion Bible app and let others in foreign countries read the Bible in their native tongue while you witness to them. Download the WORDsearch app and study commentaries, parallel scriptures and the meaning of different words to be a better disciple for Christ.
For churches wary of the financial and time costs of a digital presence, content management systems that integrate e-giving are a good option. twenty:28, a new service of LifeWay, offers churches the opportunity to receive their website and mobile app for free as long as they meet giving thresholds. The integration of content management systems, mobile apps, and e-giving under one roof also saves churches time they can invest in furthering their ministry efforts.
In the end, the use of technology answers God’s call of stewardship. The tools are endless. Make the most of the technology. Leverage it as you lead your church and go to the ends of the earth.