http://www.tfwm.com/tfwmsubscribe
http://en-us.sennheiser.com/integrated-systems/houses-of-worship-microphones/?utm_source=techforworship&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=how
background main top

The Importance of Staying Current

By Matt McKee and Joni Tapp

How are houses of worship today staying in touch with the youth in their community?  Is it a quality website- interactive video, Facebook and Twitter feeds, blogs, all of the above?  How important is it for your house of worship to remain current for your audience?

 

It seems like technology develops at the speed of light in today’s world. As soon as you buy a new device and have it figured out, something faster and more functional comes along that everybody jumps to. It is hard for houses of worship to make decisions about what technologies to adopt in their ministries.
So how important is it for a church to stay on the cutting edge of technology in order to remain relevant with the congregation and community they are trying to impact?

Unfortunately, the answer is “It depends.” There is no quick and easy formula. It depends on who your target audience is and what their technological capabilities are. Before you can even make decisions about the use of technology, you need to be really certain about the characteristics of your congregation and community, and know what your ministry goals are in reaching them. 


Ask yourself some questions:
• What age group is your current congregation? Do you want to stay with that group, or are you trying to draw people in from other generations?
• What is the economic status of your community? Can most people afford the latest gadgets?
• Do you know what technologies the members of your church and community are already using?

Once you know who your audience is and what your ministry goals are, you can start making choices about technology. If your membership is mostly senior adults, then you are probably safe at the tail-end of technology progress. However, if you are also trying to reach younger generations, then you really need to be making an effort to keep up with the technologies your congregation is using.

The Pew Research Center has some amazing studies about the use of technology in American Culture. It is a good exercise to explore their research on current trends. There was a USA 2011 study called “Generations and Gadgets” which showed that 85% of American adults used cell phones1, and a 2010 study called “Teens, Cell Phones, and Texting” showed that 75% of teens 12-17 used cell phones2. That same study showed that texting has become the preferred method of communication among teens, with 50% of them sending at least 50 texts a day, and 15% sending as many as 200 texts every day! Those numbers are staggering.  It really shows that if you want to reach out to young people in the way they prefer to be reached, it needs to be on a cell phone!

Even cell phones have various means of communication, including voice calls, texting, email, mobile websites, and apps for things like social media. Once again, there is no formula for knowing which of these to develop for use in ministry. If you have the budget and manpower, the obvious answer is to research all of them. However, not every house of worship has that capacity. Bear in mind also that each community of people is different for which one of these communication methods will appeal to them the most.

Youth are different from adults, men are different from women, and so every ministry may need to focus on a different technology to best reach their target audience.

Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, is another technology that you need to consider how to use in ministry. The website Socialnomics is another great place to find research about how people are using social media. Once again, consider your target audience. Look up which site your core demographic uses the most.

With over 800 million active users3, and the most weekly hits of ANY site on the web4, it is pretty clear that your church needs to be on Facebook. Social networking is not just for the young anymore. Pew Research reports that 65% of online adults use at least one social networking site, and the number of Baby Boomers (age 50-64) who use social media daily has skyrocketed 60% in the last year5.

Although we cannot tell you exactly which technologies to focus on in your church and ministry, we can guarantee that you will connect more effectively with your congregation and community if you use some. When all else fails, just ask your congregation what they are using.  Poll your community to see how much they use each technology. The only wrong answer to “Which technology should my church use in ministry?” is “None of them.”

With the way our technological culture is developing, it is essential for a church to at least try to stay relevant to what is most important to their communities.


Matt McKee and Joni Tapp are with ROAR Mobile Apps, http://www.roar.pro. ROAR’s mission is to get faith-based content on mobile devices by developing apps for non-profits on all mobile platforms.


References
1. Generations and their gadgets, by Kathryn Zickuhr, Feb 3, 2011, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Generations-and-gadgets.aspx
2. Teens, Cell Phones and Texting, by Amanda Lenhart, April 20, 2010, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1572/teens-cell-phones-text-messages
3. Facebook Statistics, http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
4. 10 WOW Social Media Statistics, by Erik Qualman, June 7, 2011, http://www.socialnomics.net/2011/06/07/10-wow-social-media-statistics/
5. 65% of online adults use social networking sites, by Mary Madden, Kathryn Zickuhr, Aug 26, 2011, http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Social-Networking-Sites.aspx

background main bottom