Want to unleash the power of technology to enhance your church? Martyn Casserly explores the possibilities in Part 1: Websites
Want to unleash the power of technology to enhance your church? Martyn Casserly explores the possibilities in Part 2: Blogs & Social Media
A young girl sat with her mother in the front row of church one Sunday morning. The preacher was an energetic chap who prowled around delivering his message with verve and gusto. Due to his wanderings, the lead from his microphone kept catching on the lectern, requiring him to whip the cable to free it again. After several instances of this, the little girl leaned into her mother with a concerned look on her face and said, ‘If he gets loose, will he hurt us?’
Technology can be a wonderful thing. It has the power to liberate, enrich and even transform the way we live and worship. Conversely, it can be a frightening prospect, like a wild preacher set free from his microphonic leash. So we’ve put together a guide for upgrading various aspects of your church that could act as a comforting hand along this potentially dark and treacherous road. Think of us as a sort of Apple Genius-type assistant, albeit without the youthful enthusiasm and elegantly designed workplace...
NB: We realise that some churches are way ahead on this, basking in the reflective glow of their iPads and light displays. This feature is for the rest of us, who are still drowning in a sea of acetate and dayglow posters.
Many church leaders now have blogs, and they are a very useful way of sharing your thoughts with your congregation and interacting with a wider community. Interested readers can sign up to have your missives emailed to their PCs and phones directly, or they can simply visit your blog site. There are a range of platforms that offer different ways of communicating, all for free. If you’re more of a writer then Wordpress (wordpress.com) and Blogger (blogger.com) offer excellent services which look professional and take about ten minutes to set up. If you’re the more arty type, then Tumblr (tumblr.com) is a beautiful site that allows you to customise every aspect of the design, send images, videos, or text from your mobile phone alongside the traditional methods. For those who like the idea of recording moments of wisdom in an audio format, then Audioboo (audioboo.com) is the place to go. Simply speak your thoughts into your smartphone or laptop while running their free app and Audioboo will automatically put it on their site and link to it on Facebook and Twitter.
TIP: A blog is an interactive thing. One mistake we regularly see is people putting up posts but then not responding to comments that readers make. Think of your blog as the beginning of a conversation, not the definitive word on the subject.
If you don’t want to go to the expense of building a whizz-bang website or managing your own blog then there’s a simple solution – Facebook. The social networking site has the in-built ability for you to create Groups, which can allow members of your church to exchange prayer requests, ideas, or circulate news that may have been overlooked in the Sunday notices. Groups can be private (invite only and viewable by approved members) or public (as the name suggests, anyone can join or view the content). The advantages of Facebook, and any of the online ideas we’ve suggested, is that it enables people who can’t physically get to church for whatever reason to still remain part of the wider body. The whole thing is free and only needs you to be a member of Facebook to start one up (you’ll find the option Create a Group on the left column of your home page under Groups).
TIP: Don’t try to do everything. Encourage other church members to post subjects and then be sure to actively engage with them yourself. The more frequently things are put up, the more chance people will get involved.