I was recently asked to give a lecture to a class at Spring Arbor University on using the internet and technology in churches today. Considering I do so quite at 1208GREENWOOD Free Methodist Church, I thought I’d share a few ideas as to how you can incorporate such technologies in your ministry.
Visit 1208’s Facebook
Facebook is about as obvious as it gets when it comes to incorporating the internet into your church. You can upload pictures, tag people, give updates, and link, link, link. It creates an online community in which your congregants can see that much more goes on at your building than just a Sunday morning service. They can see how they can get involved and be aware of events coming up (even if they’re last minute).
However, there is a problem with many church Facebooks: they’re dead. Sure, there is a page people can like, but for the most part nothing is there (or at least what is there is from a year ago). If you want your church to look alive in healthy, show them that it is. Take a picture every other day of something going on and post it to your Facebook. Write a blog post so people can keep up with you. If your Facebook page is dead it might lead others to think that (A) you aren’t doing anything or (B) that your church doesn’t understand technology. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with not using technology, but if you’re looking to attract today’s generation at all, they may take notice that you use technology and use it well. And if you use it well, you can get the word out. For example, here are some flyers we post on Facebook.
Visit 1208’s YouTube
If you have any video editing skills, take some footage every once in awhile and throw it up on your YouTube channel. From there, you can link it to Facebook and show the world what you’ve been up to. Show people how an event went or make a video to get the word out about an event coming up.
Visit 1208’s Twitter
Twitter is easy enough to use as long as your not long winded. You’ve only got 140 characters to say what you need to say. As you can see, we update our Twitter by simply linking Twitter to Facebook. That way anything we post to Facebook will automatically be posted to Twitter with a link to the thing we said on Facebook. That way, if we write too much on Facebook then you can click on the link to see the rest of what we were saying. Another great way of getting the word out there and with how popular it is, it should definitely be utilized.
Visit Jamin’s Blog
If you’re in ministry and have good backing in some kind of exegetical education I highly suggest you start practicing what I call the spiritual discipline of blogging. There are many aspects to this, but I’ll try to keep my explanation brief.
Today, anyone can blog and get their beliefs and feelings out there. This is good of course, but can create some problems as essentially anyone can get their beliefs and feelings out there. Now I’m all for free speech, but let’s face it: people misinterpret the Bible all the time. I’m not asking people to stop blogging, but I am do wish those who know the exegetical basics of Biblical interpretation to step up and blog. You are the ones who can break the cycle and present scholarly blogs. Writing such posts will grow you with God and make you a better writer. It will also give you an avenue to teach through outside of the pulpit.
I highly suggest getting a WordPress account if you’re going to blog. No blogging service will benefit you quite as much as WordPress will, especially with all of the free helpful statistics and insights it offers you.
With the rise of the iTunes and other music distributing technologies came the ability for local bands to get their music out there. We are now stepping into a world in which writers can do the same. Now with most writings this is not a problem, but when it comes to Christian writings we have the same problem we have with blogging: anyone can write a book. Again, this isn’t bad and it doesn’t mean that what anyone has to say is bad, but it can be. If you understand how to read and interpret the Bible, you have the power at your fingertips to now write a book about something God puts on your heart. I’ve now personally been able to publish two books: COLOUR, and The Prophetic Jacket.
Visit our Foursquare
If you have an iPhone or Android you may have heard of this app. It’s essentially a social network for checking into places. When you stop somewhere you check into that place on the app and you get points for doing so. You tend to get more points for going to new places and if you check into a place more than anyone else, you become the mayor of that place. The points are just for fun and it pushes you to compete with your friends and check into lots of places.
This is a good way to get word out that you exist. When people check into 1208GREENWOOD Free Methodist Church it will let others know that they are there. It will even post it to Facebook if they have linked their Foursquare account to Facebook. The more people see people check in, the more they’ll be curious to check you out sometime. It’s a creative way to get word out that you exist and get people not in a church, into a church.
If you own your venue on Foursquare you can also put specials up on your Foursquare page. For example, I got free parmesan bread at a local pizza place for checking in there three times. I can’t figure out what kind of a special would work for a church yet, but it’s a cool idea to put in place if you can think of one.
7. Church Apps
Download 1208’s iPhone app
If you have someone in your church who is good with developing software, see if they can make you a mobile app. If you don’t have someone like that in your church, do what we did and ask an app developer like iGivings to make one for you. We lucked out and happened to get an app made from iGivings for free during a limited time offer, but you can still pay to get one made. If you want to see what that app will look like, check out ours. This is a great way to get mp3s of your messages out there as well as upcoming events and blog posts. It puts them all in the same place. It’s similar to Facebook, but cool to have (especially if you have enough app users in your church).
Check out one of 1208’s newsletters
We don’t really have the money to print off a bunch of beautiful color newsletters every time we make one, but we do have the ability to email great looking PDFs to every single person in our church. We also make a link available for download on our Facebook page. This allows us to get word out to everyone about what we’ve been doing, are doing, and are about to do. This way we don’t even have to worry about making everything printable or trying to make it all look good in black and white. We can just expect that it’ll be read on a computer or tablet. Or people can even print it off themselves and then read it that way if they prefer to do so.
9. Cloud Drives
Check out 1208’s Google Drive
You can get a free cloud drive for your church quite easily. Just use Dropbox or Google Drive. They’ll give you a few gigs to store files on and you can makes those files public or private. We have a private Dropbox file for our church in which we transfer our PowerPoints and other service files back and forth. We also have a public one where people can download our messages, newsletters and what have you. They can be very useful.