Thursday, December 11, 2008

11 Characteristics of Successful Churches - 5. Technology is Not Optional

Technology is Not Optional

My family has long been involved in public education, and in recent years there has been a push to "use technology" in the classroom. This thinking misses the mark when it comes to connecting to students. Students don't think in terms of "using technology," they just use it. It's part of the language they speak. So "using technology" does not typically produce a wow factor; it's just expected.

Technology is no longer optional; and simply having a website doesn't cut it anymore. You have to connect with people where they are. Connect with people via podcast, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. To not have these things in the 21st century is like a church not having a phone in the 20th century. It's a must.

Use text-messaging to connect people to the service and to the staff. Ross Sawyers at 121 Community Church gave out his personal phone number for people to text if they wanted to talk about what it means to trust Christ.

Technology should be a big part of the services. Going digital costs money, but the things mentioned above do not. Also, going to church Online is gaining a lot of attention these days.

We are now 67 days away from the nation-wide switch from analog to digital television. In response people have purchased converter boxes or have gone ahead and made the plunge into the world of HD television.

On February 17, 2009 the television airwaves go digital and many churches become obsolete. No longer will the overhead-projection-on-a-bedsheet or flannel-board methods be sufficient.

When my home church, Waxahachie Bible Church, built a new sanctuary in 2002, they included widescreen projection screens because the worship pastor, Jay Trull, saw where digital technology was headed. They have not made the conversion to HD yet, but the infrastructure is in place for them to do so when it becomes financially possible. Bent Tree Bible Fellowship completed their new facilities this fall and have gone full HD in their services and so have several other churches we have visited.

Certainly finances are a consideration in this discussion, but embracing technology does not have to be cost-prohibitive. The web is full of free resources to connect people within your church and to introduce new people to your church. Making technology a priority will speak volumes to people who are visiting because it will be communication that is on their terms, using their terminology, so their condition isn't terminal.

What are some ways you are utilizing technology to connect with people? What are some ways that you would like to do so, but haven't yet?


Rusty said...

I don't really understand your comments about HD and digital programming. Why would a church become obsolete on Feb 17? And I don't understand the importance of a church switching to HD, or even what that means? Are you saying the screens in the sanctuaries must be HD? The ones they show lyrics and videos on? The majority of people don't have HD at home because they don't think the benefit is worth the price. Why would they want the church to spend their offerings on it?

Gabe Smith said...

Thanks for the comment, Rusty!

When I say that a church has made the HD switch I am referring to the screens that they use for the lyrics, videos, and, for many, the live feed of what's happening on-stage.

On Feb. 17 everyone who gets their television over the airwaves will be receiving a digital signal for their television. I think HDTV is becoming a whole lot more financially friendly than it was even a couple of years ago when I bought an HD-ready tv. I believe it will gain a lot more traction and become much more cost-efficient to purchase an HDTV after the Feb. 17 switch. Go to an electronics store and try to find a standard definition TV. They're there, but they are hard to find and I certainly would not purchase one now because the digital switch is just 3 months away.

In 1997 the average DVD player cost over $450 and now you can pick one up for less than $50. The price point changes over time and allows more and more people and churches to have access to the technology. DVD players are standard (or dying) in most contemporary evangelical churches, but they are certainly not cost-prohibitive snymore. I could show you countless examples that are just accepted in almost any church nowadays (computers, data projectors, telephones, websites, software, lighting, etc.)

I'm not saying that churches should switch to HD before Feb. 17, but it should spur them to consider how they will approach the digital change that's happening in the living rooms of the congregants.

Related Posts with Thumbnails