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How Churches Can Leverage Location Based Services (LBS)

A few months ago Brian Barela, Director of New Media for Campus Crusade for Christ, and I had a chance to talk to Josh Williams, the CEO of Gowalla. He was only able to give us 20 minutes, but we were thankful.

We talked about how churches can leverage location-based services. Josh had some interesting points, and Brian and I came away even more excited about LBS than ever.

LBS for !mpact Church

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to present !mpact Church’s 2011 Technology Plan to CNN for their Technology Tuesdays, and one of the things that I talked about is how we plan on utilizing LBS for our connection or small groups. To me, using LBS in this way makes the most sense. You have a group of people meeting at different venues all across town, so why not create some type of partnership or connection where that group gets a reward for checking in when they have their group meeting.

More ways to utilize LBS

  • For first time check-ins, reward your attendees with a free CD or shirt.
  • On mission or outreach projects, create a partnership with a corporation or foundation and when you have people check in to volunteer at that location, your church donates $1.
  • Who’s the “Mayor” at your church? Offer to take them out to lunch and then have them to check-in at the lunch venue, too. Creating a partnership with that venue where you take your “Mayors” to is what I am calling “recursion check ins,” if you will.
  • Sometimes your community or congregation just wants to be in the know, so checking in where you guys are when you have leadership or team outing could be effective.
  • I had a meeting with Tim Schaeder, Phil Bowdle, and Brian Barela about LBS. Phil mentioned how utilizing the power of checking in with multimedia could be useful. When an attendee is sitting in the worship experience, letting their friends know what the pastor is saying via video, or showing them what is happening right now via photo could be huge. You are going from just tweeting about what you’re doing to tweeting and showing your friends where you are.

These are some of my thoughts about location-based services in churches and ministries. What are your thoughts?

Andre BarnesToday’s post was written by Andre’ Barnes. Andre is the Technology Director at Impact Church in Atlanta, GA where he oversees all of the technology resources from software to hardware. He’s also a very effective web developer and a “big ideas” guy who has a passion for furthering the Kingdom through technology. You can follow him on Twitter @drebarnes.
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  1. reverent1 (Reply) on November 3rd, 2010

    And let us pray that those who enter into this church are aware that said church is trying to leverage them vs. sharing the good news.

  2. Brian Barela (Reply) on November 3rd, 2010

    great post dre.

    what i’m noticing from my friend lists on foursquare and gowalla is that 90% of them are influencers of influencers in some capacity.

    if people are checking in at your church right now they most likely understand and use new media much more than the average person.

    my thought is that churches that want to integrate new media more effectively can start to reach out to these people for help and advice. they also would be great people to ask “how do you use Facebook/Twitter/Gowalla/Foursquare? what’s one thing that our church can do to communicate more effectively online?”

    conversations that revolve around places are unique! i hope the church continues to explore how to use this to have more engaging and widespread conversations with those inside and out of their walls.

  3. James Wood (Reply) on November 3rd, 2010

    I like the idea of using all possible means to connect with people. However I want to take some time to think about what we’re communicating when we use different media. If we reward people for checking in at a church event are we conveying the message that faith is a transaction? I’m not sure. I just don’t want the media to get in the way of the message.

  4. Jack Heimbigner (Reply) on November 3rd, 2010

    James, I agree that its important to focus on the message, and not just rewarding church goers for checking in! I have been thinking about this same thing in regards to college students and campus ministry and I don’t know what the best answer is, but trying to encourage them to use it for more than the rewards. I think most of us see the great benefit to new media, or at least trying it out. How can we communicate that to church goers and and students involved? And how does the message fit in to all of this?

  5. Andre Barnes (Reply) on November 3rd, 2010

    Jack and James, at !mpact we give first time visitors a cd anyway so having them to check in would just be bonus for the Kingdom. I know that this a bit different from “first time” checking in but same concept. I agree with you too about making sure the focus is on the message. If you can let some of your “unchurch” or “people of have been turned off by church” associates, colleagues or friends know where you are that will stark their interest and they would want to know more about that location(the church) where you are.

  6. Collin Wood (Reply) on November 3rd, 2010

    I added a tip on Foursquare at the hospital near our church with our phone number and an offer to pray with anyone who needed it. Now any time someone checks in at the hospital they see our offer to pray with them.

  7. Cleve Persinger (Reply) on November 4th, 2010

    Collin, GREAT idea!! Huge. Way to be a game changer. That’s such an easy way to maximize this technology.

  8. Jace Breeback (Reply) on November 7th, 2010

    Andre! Great post! Thanks for sharing some examples of how to use LBS in church. Can’t wait to share these ideas with my team.

  9. Andre Barnes (Reply) on November 7th, 2010

    Hey Jace: Thank you! Let me know if you have any questions! :)

  10. [...] folks are checking-in like never before. Media Salt recently gave your church some advice for leveraging the location-based frenzy, so we wanted to know: what about your church? Are people checking in there? Here are your [...]

  11. [...] folks are checking-in like never before. Media Salt recently gave your church some advice for leveraging the location-based frenzy, so we wanted to know: what about your church? Are people checking in there? Here are your [...]


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