Today’s church member is more engaged than ever through the help of modern technology. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re constantly connected, spending a whopping eight hours and 41 minutes every day on media devices—over three hours of which are on mobile phones. But would you believe me if I said that these tech tools aren’t distractors? They’re actually key components to engaging your members and deepening their discipleship.
3 Ways Churches Adapt to Technology
- Line in the sand: Churches go “prehistoric” and decide they won’t adopt new technology.
- Resist and hold. Churches resist new technology as long as possible, then adopt it only to find they are already behind in innovation.
- Address and adapt. Churches recognize patterns in technology usage and directly address them within the church.
Regardless of your church’s position, your members are taking part. According to Forbes, 19% of American smartphone users check their mobile devices during worship, while 70% of practicing Christian millennials say they use a smartphone or the internet to read scripture. (Facts & Trends) Technology does have a place in the church—in a reverent, non-distracting way that not only engages your members with information about your church, but also spreads God’s word and deepens their discipleship. Here’s how:
Video and presentation screens are a great way to draw attention and simplify a message. According to The Clergy Journal, at least one third of all churches are using video clips during the worship service. There are a number of ways you can employ video at your church:
- Welcome videos on your website
- TV announcements in common areas
- Notes during sermons
- Testimonial videos during service
- Song lyrics during worship
- Curriculum during Sunday school
And that’s just the beginning! Luckily, with high-quality cameras attached to the devices we’re already carrying in our pockets, making movies is simple too. You may not have to spend an arm and a leg to get your message across in a visually-appealing way. Want something a little more professional? Ask around to see if any of your church members have equipment or do video consulting.
It’s not like social media is new. Chances are, you already have a presence on one or more social media websites. But do they work with your other channels? Do you have a strategy for what content you share on Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Pinterest?
First, understand what’s different about each social media site. Here are some hints:
- Facebook: Great for longer content, building relationships, promoting sharing.
- Twitter: Used for quick tidbits of information, reminders, and quotes. Great for easily sharing content with new networks.
- Pinterest: Used for sharing creative ideas and gaining inspiration from other churches, as well as your members. Share quotes, extraordinary pictures, recipes, ideas, and more.
- Instagram: Like Twitter with pictures. Used for keeping followers visually updated on what’s going on in the church.
Based on the typical uses of each social media site, plan your content accordingly. Don’t share content that invites a lot of questions on Twitter without including a link to more information. Don’t post a simple picture update on Pinterest. Tailor your content and reference other channels like your website, mobile giving provider, app, and more.
Mobile responsive websites are no longer a “nice-to-have”—they’re a must-have for churches to engage with new people and existing congregants. Considered a method of “future-proofing” your website, responsive websites adapt to multiple screen sizes and are way of ensuring your viewer will see the content you intend—no matter what device or browser they choose. A responsive website allows you to:
- Future-proof your website as tech companies produce new mobile devices and screen sizes.
- Welcome new visitors with basic information they need to know about your church (service times, what to wear, etc.).
- Promote events on the homepage or an online comprehensive church calendar.
- Delight visitors with easy-to-find information.
- Increase participation with sign-up forms.
Do responsive websites oppose mobile apps? Not at all. In fact, they work best together. Your website is the first place newcomers will go to find information about your church. It’s a crucial step to inviting new people and nurturing them along a journey that leads to membership and deeper discipleship. Apps are the next step—engaging them as they go about their days and giving them content they can share with others at the tap of a button.
Mobile apps are absolutely necessary for deeper engagement with members of your congregation. Primarily used by your most engaged and loyal members, apps bring your communication strategy into the 21st century. With quick, easy access to important church information, apps help you:
- Build engagement beyond the Sunday service
- Promote events through calendar feeds and syncing
- Lower printing costs by reducing bulletin print needs
- Spread the Word by allowing viewing and sharing of past sermons and other media
- Increase tithing through access to online giving
- Connect in-service with connection cards, prayer requests, and fill-in-the-blank note-taking
Apps aren’t just a great tool for sharing information out to members. It’s a great way to let them doing some sharing as well. In fact, faith communities with major tech use are roughly 50% more likely to have members who actively recruit into the congregation. (Hartford Institute)
While each of these technology elements has extreme power in the way of engagement, no one tool can effectively work to its potential without being paired with another for a comprehensive tech and communication strategy. Just saying you have an app or a responsive site isn’t enough. By putting your church content to work across channels, you’ll be able to engage church members in different ways—and along different steps in their faith journey—to coming closer to your church community.