By Aaron Earls
Instead of viewing technology as a new way to engage the congregation and the community, some church leaders are hesitant to adopt the latest technological advances. This often results in congregations being left behind in the flannel graph era, instead of being part of the digital revolution.
This may no longer be the trend though, according to Tyler Litton, a video specialist at Lifeway. “As of late,” he says, “it would appear there is a concerted effort on behalf of Christians to use the now-affordable technologies to reach out to their communities.”
Many technological advances can enable churches to minister in new ways and make established ministries more efficient. “While God and His Word have not changed, we as His people have, and one way in which we have changed is by the methods and multitude of ways we digest information,” says Litton.
How can you leverage the technological culture of today in a missional way? Craig Adams, creative director at Lifeway Worship, offers 10 ways your church can harness technology and use it to grow your members and reach your neighbors.
1. Create a technology or communications team.
Enlist people who are focused on the ways your church is currently using technology and who are also aware of other potential technology and communication methods. Empower them to provide you with tangible ways you can improve.
2. Make sure younger leaders are involved.
It’s their culture. They were born into technology, so it’s second nature to them. Plug them into the ministry of your church so they can share their insights with other leaders.
3. Identify all relevant technological media.
This is where your team can help. Find out the social media sites the people in your church use most frequently. Invest your time there. But also discover where the greater community around your church is online. Be there.
4. Train all church leaders to use those avenues.
Discovering where people are is only half the issue. Now, the staff and lay leaders need to know how to use the appropriate sites and technology, so they can engage their audience inside and outside the church.
5. Secure premium quality Internet bandwidth for the church office.
Invest in the Internet you and your staff will use on a regular basis. Nothing will frustrate people and dampen enthusiasm for an online push than slow Internet and the resulting inability to respond quickly.
6. Establish highly targeted venues for each local church ministry.
Loading up your church website with an announcement for every ministry, class and team defeats the purpose. Too much information can often dilute your main message. Use designated websites, Facebook groups and Twitter feeds to better engage users.
7. Develop a strategy for advance and follow-up communications.
In conjunction with your team, devise a plan to disseminate sermon notes, announcements, ministry opportunities, specific campaigns, prayer items, etc. in the most effective way.
8. Diversify the kind of content being generated.
With all the varying media creation software and apps, you and your team could produce numerous works related to one sermon or church wide emphasis: podcast, highlight video, web ad, Facebook photo, blog post, etc.
9. Provide pre-loaded mobile devices to missionaries, shut-ins and those in the hospital.
Instead of expecting people to find ways to consume the content you produce—give them the content and the device. Missionaries could use it for evangelism. Those who cannot physically come to services could still benefit from the sermons.
10. Offer classes for the elderly and technology-challenged.
Grandparents would love to learn how to use Skype to video chat with their grandchildren. Those without a job could use computer training to be more marketable. Look at your community and meet the needs that are present.
As your church expands your use of technology for missional purposes, plan for there to be missteps as you continue to grow.
“No matter the method, the church will continue to see ideas fail and succeed, but the effort is important and isn’t a waste of time or resources,” says Litton. “Continue to find and refine what your community needs and communicate in a way in which they will hear you.”
Aaron Earls is online editor for Facts & Trends.