The Gospel message has always been carried forward by technology whether the development of papyrus, the printing press, radio, television or the Internet. What is the new frontier churches need to be prepared for?
More than ever today, I believe that frontier is the mobile device. Mobile phones are nearly ubiquitous, there are more than 238 million mobile users in the U.S. and more than 6 billion globally. Mobile phones are now not only used for email and web surfing but also for photo sharing, updating social media, paying bills and even arming your home’s security system. In many countries you are more likely to have a mobile phone than have access to a computer.
So how can today’s church engage both its members and community on their mobile phones? And more importantly what technologies can impact your church in the important areas of community, discipleship, outreach and evangelism?
Three of the technologies I have found to be very effective in ministry and engaging a church are text messaging, mobile websites and mobile apps.
The Mobile Church
Text messaging allows a church to reach its members and even visitors with timely messages right on their phone. The message the church sends could be a weekly Bible verse, info on the upcoming outreach event or even a Bible study.
Ninety-seven percent of text messages are opened, which compares to just 10-20 percent of emails, so your church can be sure its message will be heard. Members can also interact with your church using texts. One church recently signed up members for more than 140 small groups using this technology!
Mobile websites are a mobile version of your website that is simplified and designed to be easy to use and navigate. A good mobile website makes it easy to click-to-call your church as well as get directions to your church. Quick links to the church’s most important ministries is also critical. More than 50 percent of Google searches are now done on a mobile phone, so the next visitor to your church’s website is very likely doing so on their phone.
Mobile apps have become very popular. There seems to be an app for everything, including great resources like the YouVersion app for Bible reading and the Logos app for pastors wanting access to in-depth Bible study and reference tools. Churches now have the opportunity to have apps that allow users to watch their sermons, submit prayer requests and even pay their tithes and offerings right from their phones.
If we are to be relevant while reaching people where they are, churches can no longer ignore mobile phones. Let us use every tool available to spread the Gospel!