The Church, Missions & Technology

Digital Resources

This week we are looking at taking advantage of resources for using digital communication at your church. As we dive into these resources let us first state an obvious one that is often overlooked. Ask for help. If you are reading this then you understand that digital communication is vital to your church and ministry. We all recognize that most churches and ministries are years behind the curve but that is why I am writing and you are reading, to help close the gap. If you attend a smaller church do not think that you are limited, or that you cannot create and produce great content for your church. You might need a little help along the way. One of the first steps is asking for help. On more than one occasion I have emailed, or even better, sent a message through social media and asked for help from communications staff at mega churches. Most of them have responded quickly and pointed me in the right direction. They have even provided me with content that they have previously used. They are more than happy to talk through process and design. Ask for help, don’t waste time trying to create a wheel that was created years ago.

The second digital resource is social media itself. Facebook alone has numerous groups of church social media managers or church visual communication. Members of the group range from lay leaders who want to help their church to full-time communication directors at large churches. Within these “closed groups” people share ideas and get feedback. I have even seen some give away photos, sermon slides, and social media templates. For me personally, when I cannot figure something out I post inside these groups asking for help.

The last digital resource is graphic design related. This part seriously intimidates lay leaders but I am going to talk about two resources that will help you out. The first is called Canva. Canva is a web-based program that has several templates already laid out for you. You just replace the text and the picture and you are good to go. If you want to get fancy you can pay for the pro version and easily add your church logo and color scheme. The second is an Adobe product called Spark Post. This is another web-based program that allows you to create a variety of social media graphics. The templates are pre-formatted for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, & Tumbler. This App also is compatible with all mobile devices. So if you create content on the go this might be a better App for you.

To Recap:
1. Reach out for help directly with other social experts
2. Join Facebook Groups
3. Use tools to help save time with design


Social Media

Social media continues to change the way we live. Five years ago it became the number one activity on the internet. So how do we take this tool, this form of communication, and use it in the church. I normally talk to pastors and church leaders on how they can use social media, but today I am going to talk about how we can use social media as a follower of Jesus.

The first thing I want you to understand about social media is, it is all about relationships. It helps you to build and maintain relationships with old and new friends. That is why I think it is a great tool for us, in the church, to stay in touch with people we want to lift up and encourage. It is also a place to find new people and start new relationships. Starting new relationships is a part of our command from Christ, himself. Social media just makes it a little easier for people all over the world to connect, and last time I checked it’s all free.

Second, promote and talk about other people, in a positive way of course. An argument we hear often is that people on social media take too many selfies and talk about themselves all the time. A real quick way to work around that is always encouraging others. Thank people for serving in various roles in the church. Tell someone that you are praying for them. Promote other ministries. Encouraging others in your small group is another great way to make sure the focus of your posts stay on others first.

Third, when you post, make sure that every post has a purpose. When I see people post a scripture verse, and only the verse I often ask the question, “Why did you post that verse?” Most people don’t randomly post a verse they find. If you explain to people “why” you are sharing that particular scripture verse it gives it more purpose and reach. Having a purpose for your posts helps keep things in check and helps you guard against posting constantly about yourself. This way you can intentionally share a few specific things each week. Having a purpose with your posts allows others to see more of who you are, especially in the social media world. As you post you can also ask questions related to your life. These might be questions that other people, even people that do not have a relationship with Jesus need to hear about.

I think we should post about four specific things every week not in any specific order.
1. Share what God is teaching you through scripture.
2. Encourage someone you do not see regularly.
3. Promote a church, ministry, or non-profit. (If you are in the business world promote another business)
4. Share how God is moving in your life.


Technology in Ministry

When we think about the church we pray that it is always changing. Biblical truths never change, but how we apply them, and what it looks like changes in every generation. This is why I am concerned about the state of technology in churches across America. I see churches on a regular basis that have not changed any of their technology in ten years. Many churches have taken proper steps to get a website and social media pages but I am afraid that they did it just because everyone else was doing it. Or maybe because the “cool” church in town had a website so now we need one too. Over the next several weeks we will look at three key areas of technology in the church. Websites, Social Media, and Digital Resources.

Far to often churches have websites that are ugly, outdated, and not welcoming. We know that people interested in your church will often view the church website or social media pages prior to attending for the first time. However, most of our websites do not properly reflect the identity of our churches. Updating and maintaining a website are easier today than they have ever been. We must take proper steps to use technology as we continue to reach out to lost members of our communities.

Churches have discovered social media but many do not understand social media. It is funny how many churches use their social media pages like they would a website. They do not understand that social media is about relationships. I told a church worker that you need to talk to people and draw them into conversation about a particular ministry through your social media pages. She quickly said but if we place something on social media then we will have to respond and I do not have time for that. I said ok remember that time is a choice. If you choose not to be in the realm of social media that is completely up to you. This is where I remind church staff that although social media is still free to set up and use, it does take time.
The last week we will look at Digital Resources available to you right now. When I was on the mission field we did not have financial resources to accomplish many of our goals so we had to be creative. Almost everything we talked about during training missionaries could start right then for free. Each year free resources are made available to small churches and pastors all across the nation and world. We need to make sure that we are looking in the right places for help. We also need to be able to ask for help from others on church staffs with more expertise than our own. I like to use the example of my father. He is in his late 50’s and does a decent job of using social media for his church. What is really cool is that he is in several groups that share resources. Although they do not advertise it several large churches will assist in any way they can to share resources. Newspring Community Church is one that shares almost anything they create. All you need to do is ask for it.