God isn't bland. The Church shouldn't be, either.
Don’t wait!  Introduce new technology to your congregation.

I’ve been to numerous conferences where the question is asked, “When can we start using [ENTER NEW WEB TECHNOLOGY HERE] for our church?”

The answer is always something like “When your audience has the capability to use it, or are saavy towards it.”

I understand this answer when it comes to hardware. For example, it doesn’t make sense to design a 1040px wide website if a majority of folks accessing it are all on 800px wide monitors.

However, for everythiing else, I’d like to turn this thinking around.

Instead of being frustrated with the lack of saavyness visitors to our website have, why don’t we think of creative ways to take them by the hand and impart knowledge through “baby-step” experiences. In return they’ll champion it to other novice users.

The hi-def plasma experience.

Think of it this way, folks watching the Superbowl on a television built in 1990 will still see the same game and commercials as someone watching it on a brand new, big screen, 1080p, hi def plasma television. The difference is the experience — Crystal clear, like-your-at-the-game picture.

In the same way, look for avenues to pepper in perks to reward users of popular technologies, and offer non-users a glimpse of what could be without penalizing them.

Facebook

We recently created a Facebook Fan Page for The Chapel. At the time of this post, there are close to 400 users.

We don’t expect every church attender or visitor to be on Facebook, but I have seen folks join Facebook just to join in the conversation on the fan page.

More notes on Facebook:

  1. This doesn’t replace our main website, but we do offer additional features through daily-updated news feeds, videos, event notifications, etc.
  2. The public, non Facebook members, can view content on our fan page, but they can’t take part in the conversation.
  3. All content can be shared. Our fans are getting the word out about what’s going on, just by clicking “share.” In return, their non-fan friends get exposure to The Chapel and decide to become fans.
  4. We link to several event pages, located on Facebook, from the homepage of Chapel.org. Again, anyone can read them, they just can’t comment unless they’re logged in to Facebook. This generates interest in the technology.

Twitter

There is only a small percentage of Chapel attenders using Twitter, but enough to make an impact.

For the past several months we’ve offered the ability for Twitter users to tweet upcoming events.

Again, non Twitter users still have the ability to automatically email their friends to get the word out about upcoming events, but Twitter users get the added benefit and cool factor.

In addition, we’re tinkering with the idea to encourage tweeting during weekend services. We have a group of folks utilizing the hashtag #thechapel when talking about The Chapel, and we’ll probably eventually aggregate these on Chapel.org.

One step at a time.

More technologies

Facebook and Twitter are just two of the many popular items churches can embrace.

You might also want to consider introducing new technology such as group texting, txt voting, a mobile version of your website, or iPhone apps.

The take home

We’re hired to be experts, but it doesn’t end there. Let’s lead our congregations when new Kingdom-impacting technologies jump on the scene. Stop waiting for it to catch on. The possibilities are endless when we give folks enough knowledge to be “dangerous.”

What are the technologies you’re leading folks to embrace at your church or ministry?

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  1. Website Design Kent (Reply) on April 29th, 2009

    “For example, it doesn’t make sense to design a 1040px wide website if a majority of folks accessing it are all on 800px wide monitors.”

    True, except 800px wide websites look isolated on a widescreen monitor. Fluid layouts are best but you need a fair amount of content to fill them up, else they look worse.
    But you have to move with the times without alienating your audience. My old pal in California still uses a 56K modem. Im not desiging websites for 56k load times anymore and Ebay is just unusable with 56k data. (In reality 56k = 35kb/s).

  2. Eric Murrell (Reply) on April 30th, 2009

    Kent:

    I think you’ve mistaken Cleve’s hypothetical example for a statement about a certain design philosophy. Cleve was implying that we shouldn’t design around technologies that are out of reach for the majority of our audience. For example, you wouldn’t design a mobile site to be 1000px wide when the majority of popular smart phones today average 320px wide.

    As far as embracing new technologies while still supporting legacy technology, the best example I’ve heard of is High Definition Television. While the content is produced with those beautiful 1080p flatscreens in mind, it is created in such a way that it gracefully degrades for that 19″ tube set in your basement.

    The same philosophy should be applied to web design; always start with web standards and modern browsers in mind, but never forget to make sure things still work happily in old hold-outs like Internet Explorer 6 (which still represents about 20% of your visitors!). Check out http://www.longhollow.com for a good example; we gracefully disabled some incompatible JavaScript and UI stuff for IE 6, but you would never notice unless you looked at the site in a newer browser.

    Thanks for the comment, Kent!

  3. John (Human3rror) (Reply) on May 4th, 2009

    i think the question of “is it the RIGHT tech” is also just important, if not even more so.

  4. [...] When do I (the Church) add new technology? It’s a short answer, if you think “Should I add (fill in technology here)?”, It is time – do it now. Media Salt just released an article covering this very topic and highlighting a few key technologies like Facebook and Twitter. Check it out here. [...]

  5. deWeb (Reply) on May 4th, 2009

    good read. we’re working in a small, very blue-collar town that is mostly behind the curve on tech savvy. trying to integrate technologies that might help us connect with more young people is difficult, but i think it’s important for us.

    gonna bookmark your post and forward to my web/creative peeps.

    deWeb

  6. Josh Britt (Reply) on May 4th, 2009

    Thanks for the great article. We are using facebook at the studnet level and churchwide level in our church. I’m going to bring up the twitter idea. Several of our staff twitter regularly, but it would be a great option for upcoming event awareness. We have talked extensively about text vote. we just can’t afford it right now. Thanks so much for all that you guys are doing.

  7. Guy Walker (Reply) on May 4th, 2009

    There is a correct time to start using [ENTER NEW WEB TECHNOLOGY HERE] for a church. I think the time is different for every church.

    we use facebook as the primary site for our college ministry ONEgeration.tv

    But I think every church could benefit from social media somehow

  8. Eric Murrell (Reply) on May 4th, 2009

    As several of you have mentioned Facebook, you might like to check out a recent post we did about the awesome new functionality that has been added to Facebook Pages (also known as public profiles). You can check out the post here: http://www.mediasalt.com/2009/03/25/news-flash-facebook-pages-now-useful/

  9. Keith Bender (Reply) on June 14th, 2009

    There is a beauty to this format evolution. Encouraging upwards interaction and creating a space for sideways communication which allows a diverse flock to not just stay in touch
    but to socialize, get connected and form bonds. 3 years in technolgy advancements can
    bring about more change today than we older Baby Boomers can fathom. FaceBook ,
    Youtube and twitter did not exist the previous Presidential election. You can Native application
    yourself a Faith Channel to share the cost and be on Iphone in a week or two with a service
    called http://www.pointAbout.com , build a faith based social media site of your own staring at
    $8.00 per month which is able to transact business and monthly pledges at the start.
    The IPhone 3gs is already booked. Mobile formatting will progress and we have not even
    taken the location based services tour yet. Nokia bought NavTeq ? In a very short time from
    now the technology you hold in your hands that takes pictures, records video ,and music will even find a pizza restaurant for you. You may even broadcast a sermon via podcast for those
    out of town. And they will access it from that rock,….oops …that Iphone.


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