by Chris Lema
Be warned, the technology described below can become habit forming, and may possibly turn your church service into something so interactive that you may never be the same again.
What’s with all the doodling?
I grew up taking my little brother to church with me but without my parents. Thankfully our church wasn’t a long walk from home, because we’d clip on our ties, dress up and walk a block and a half to church. The frustrating part of going to church without my parents wasn’t that they may be destined to a place I didn’t want to talk about. No, the real downside was that when we hit that age when we had to go to “big” church, there was no one there with the distracting coloring books and other toys that other parents had for their kids. Skip a few decades forward and there are still days when I’m sitting in church watching folks my age doodle on bulletins. Maybe it’s because they learned the habit years ago. Or maybe it’s because they’re bored.
I’m not suggesting that your church is boring. But I am suggesting that in these days when people are updating their Facebook status multiple times an hour, sitting in a church service with little to no interactivity can lead to a lot of doodlers.
Who are we hearing from?
These days anyone with a twitter account can make sure they have a voice. The bigger question is whether they’re having a voice in church. If your church is anything like mine, there are people who come in and slip out on a Sunday morning and never have an interaction with anyone. Those are the folks that we rarely hear from. And the stats are suggesting that the younger this crowd gets the more they’re walking out of churches across the country.
What if you could PollEverywhere?
If you visit www.polleverywhere.com you’ll notice that it’s an audience response system for this generation. It’s really simple:
1. Create an account (collecting up to 30 responses is FREE).
2. Create a poll (survey question).
3. Save the powerpoint slide for use in church.
4. Let your congregation answer using text messaging.
That slide gives people all the text messaging codes needed to answer your survey. And even better, the answers are tabulated as they come in, and are presented on the slide – in an interactive and completely compelling way.
You’ll be able to ask multiple choice questions like, “What delights you most w/ our children’s ministry?” and put 4 answers down that will help give you instant feedback: a. security, b. volunteers/staff, c. curriculum, and d. parenting tools.
Watch as the bars start shifting, as votes come in, because people are excited to share their voice.
Interaction leads to Deeper Engagement
Social media researchers are slowly learning what churches have known for years. They noticed that people who created accounts didn’t immediately start participating. Sound familiar? They noticed that people began participating by logging in and watching. We see the same thing in church. And finally, they noticed that once people start participating (as in clicking the “like” button on facebook) they were far more likely to then start contributing (as in posting on their wall). I’d bet the same is true for your church – your contributors are those who are actively participating.
So look at PollEverywhere as a simple way to let people begin their participation and engagement journey without a big commitment (like that “like” button). It’s a much lower bar than joining a 6 week Bible study but can lead to the same destination: deeper engagement.