Technology is all around us, and the pace at which it changes and develops can be overwhelming. The laptop I bought just a couple years ago seems slower and slower every day, and the big smartphone makers seem to be constantly enticing us to upgrade to the latest and greatest device. If we’re honest, the vast majority of us just can’t stay on the bleeding edge of new tech, and most of us don’t necessarily care to. At the same time, anyone reading this post enjoys the benefits of at least some recent advances in technology.
It’s the same way for most places of worship. Very few places of worship follow up-to-the-minute trends in church technology, but nearly all benefit from tech in some way. Because the pace of change in technology is so quick, I’d like to share with you three creative ways to use technology to enhance your church services.
1. Create a Text Line
Some visitors may resist your traditional methods of contact, whether that’s a contact card in the pew rack or an old-fashioned “stand up and introduce yourself” moment. One creative use of church technology is setting up a service that enables visitors to send in text communication during the service. These text messages can go directly to the welcome/connection desk or head usher. For more introverted visitors who aren’t comfortable approaching for a face-to-face conversation, sending a text is a great way for them to make initial contact and ask a few questions.
Many church management suites support this kind of service, but it’s easy to set up on your own, too. Simply activate a cheap phone on a “pay for what you use” service (like Ting or Twigby). Use this phone’s number as your “text line,” and make sure whoever is stationed to greet visitors has the device each week.
2. Live Stream Your Services
Live streaming your service is a great way to minister to those in your congregation who are sick or traveling, as well as anyone who is physically unable to appear in church. It also gives non-members and would-be visitors a chance to see what your church is all about before visiting in person. That may seem a little over the top to you, but some people really are skeptical of anything they can’t preview digitally.
For some ministries, live streaming involves an intricate and costly TV broadcast-quality setup. While this type of system may be worth the money for larger churches, implementing live streaming doesn’t have to break the bank. If there’s just not room in the budget for your church, try a more creative, low cost approach, like Facebook Live or Periscope. With just a mobile phone and an internet connection, you can instantly share your service with a remote online audience.
3. Implement Mobile Giving
The aspect of church that seems to resist technological upgrades the most is giving. Members love the tradition of passing the plate, but what if people who want to give to your church find themselves cashless? What if they aren’t able to physically attend church, but still want to contribute to the offering?
With mobile giving apps, people can pull out their phones and give electronically from anywhere they happen to be. For those who are absent, it’s a great way to stay connected and involved in services from afar. For those who do make it to church, they no longer have to stop by an ATM on the way. They don’t need to keep cash on hand at all!
While texting can be a wonderful tool for communicating with your members, it is not the ideal method for church giving. In fact, text-to-give options are becoming less popular, because they are not as convenient for your members as app-centered giving. When adding mobile giving to your church technology offerings, remember: text-to-give is the past, and giving apps are the future.