5 Suggestions for the Technologically Challenged Church

The average church in America has around 80 members. 94% of churches have less than 500 members. 90% of churches in America are plateaued or declining. Many of these small churches are behind when it comes to the use of technology. Maybe your church is one of them. Maybe part of the reason is because you just don’t have the budget for all kinds of fancy devices and equipment. Here are a few very basic, free to low-cost suggestions to help small, old-school churches catch up with the world and utilize technology and the internet to better share the gospel of Jesus and connect with the community:

pablo.png1. Update your website

I shared with my church this week that our website has had over 4,000 views from 3,700 unique visitors in the past year alone (which is tiny compared to the traffic that larger churches get). That breaks down to about 70 new people viewing our website every week, which is about 65 more visitors than we have on an average Sunday morning. The reality is that your website is your first impression on people and you have about 10 seconds to give them a positive view of your church before they click the “Back” arrow on their browser and search for a church with a better website. Invest the time and the money necessary to have a solid, appealing, informative, welcoming website.

2. Utilize social media

Make a Facebook page for your church and update it regularly. You might even want to spend money on Facebook advertising – it actually works pretty well. Post good content, share helpful articles, and find ways to engage with people. If you’re super tech savvy, you may even want to set up a Twitter or Instagram account to connect with younger people. You don’t need to have a million followers, but as long as you are sharing your info on one more site, more people are likely to see it and young people are more likely to have a positive view of your church. Set up for these social media sites is free. There are also great apps that integrate social media sites so you only have to post in one place.

3. Utilize email

As many forms of communication have come and gone, email has remained fairly constant. Though many younger people do not use email, they will eventually when they get to college and beyond. If you aren’t using email to connect with your members or potential visitors, you should start right away. Mailchimp.com is a good, free option that only takes a few minutes to set up (though it took me awhile to figure it all out!).

4. Utilize texting services

Email is great, Social media is great, but texting is the single most common method of communication used in the world today. Text messages have a 97% open rate (90% of which are opened in less than 3 minutes), while email open rates range usually from 15-40%. Text messages have a 45% response rate, while email has only a 6% response rate. Only 43% of smartphone users make phone calls, but over 70% text*. You get the point. Texting is a MUST when it comes to church communication. Whether you are texting your church leaders, your small group, or your whole congregation – you may want to look into using a bulk texting service. It is the single best way to communicate information to your church and people are more likely to see and respond to texts than anything else.

5. Register with Google

Perform a Google search of your church. Ideally, the first link or two are links to your church website. And hopefully, the next few links are to your church Facebook page. Then look to see what shows up on Google. Is your location registered with Google maps? Is there any information about your hours, address, location, photos, link to your website, or user reviews? You absolutely MUST take the time to register your church through “Google My Business”. Once you do this and update all your information, you will receive monthly emails with stats and analytics. These updates are very helpful and give you updated statistics and information about your audience and their website usage. Make sure when people Google your page that they find helpful and up to date information. If you’d like, you can take the time to go through this same process with Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines.

These are just a few basic, affordable suggestions for your small church to begin utilizing if it has not already. The cool part is that almost all of these suggestions and services provide you with statistics about how many people you are reaching and how many people are seeing your content. I can almost guarantee that you will be encouraged with how far your church’s gospel reach can go if you put the time and energy into making these suggestions a reality in your church.

What else would you add to this list?

What other technology must churches be using today?

Advertisements

20 Reasons Why I Don’t (And won’t) Drink Alcohol

pablo

I’m 26 years old and I’ve never had a drop of alcohol of any kind in my life. That’s right, I have never had a drink. Not once in high school. Not once in college. And I don’t plan to start. I realize I’m in the minority of adults (and teenagers for that matter) who don’t currently drink and have no desire to drink, and I probably always will be. I realize that most people, even Christians, probably think I’m crazy, prudish, uptight, or narrow-minded. I realize that my convictions about alcohol are not most people’s convictions. I realize that Jesus drank wine and provided wine for the wedding at Cana. I realize that Paul encouraged Timothy to drink wine. I realize all of that. I believe that Christians have been granted immense freedom because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I believe that because of that freedom, we are allowed to do certain things as Christians without fear of condemnation (Paul addresses this issue in 1 Corinthians 10). But I also believe that many Christians today are more worried about the freedoms they have and being allowed to do what pleases them than they are about doing what pleases God. If you are a Christian and you like to have a glass of wine with dinner or like to hit up the local brewery, I don’t believe you are in sin or anything close to it and please don’t accuse me of that because it is simply not true. I believe that is a freedom that you have been granted as a follower of Christ. When alcohol consumption becomes sinful is when it leads to an altered state of mind – when the alcohol begins to control your thoughts, words, and actions instead of the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14). In light of all of this, I still don’t ever plan to drink alcohol and here are some reasons why:

  1. Having the freedom in Christ to do something doesn’t mean we should. Just because “all things are lawful” doesn’t mean that all things will build up.
  2. I cannot be controlled by Christ’s love if I am controlled by alcohol.
  3. I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone – either a potential follower of Christ or a young follower of Christ. This is especially relevant for me because I am a Pastor.
  4. Alcohol doesn’t improve anything – Not my life, my relationships, my health, my mind, or my walk with God.
  5. How is having a drink going to please God? It may not displease him necessarily, but how does it strengthen your relationship with God?
  6. Drinking won’t draw me closer to God and won’t draw others closer to God.
  7. I have seen alcohol ruin many of my friends and their lives.
  8. I have lost friends to alcohol. A friend of mine killed himself when he was drunk. We were both 16 when he committed suicide.
  9. Drinking, even if just to “have a good time” provides false, fake joy. Only Christ can provide true joy and freedom from the pain of life.
  10. Alcohol is addictive and expensive and is not a good use of my time or money. Drinking causes many people to become poor stewards of God’s grace and the gifts that he has given to them.
  11. Alcohol can destroy people, friendships, marriages, and life itself in the most tragic scenarios.
  12. Intoxication of any degree can lead to poor choices with severe consequences.
  13. Drinking “in moderation” is rare. If you do it healthily, more power to you. Most people are not capable of it.
  14. If you say, “I never get drunk” or “I like the taste” or even “It doesn’t affect me”, what is the point? There are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks that aren’t mind-altering depressants that taste good too. I like Sprite. And Gatorade.
  15. No amount of alcohol will ever satisfy the soul. It is a slippery slope into darker places.
  16. Life is NOT more fun with alcohol. And if you think it is, you realize that means that you don’t know to have real, godly fun without the help of a drug, right?
  17. Alcohol can wreck your body – even if drunk in moderation. Sure, I’ve heard the “A little red wine with dinner is good for your health” argument. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. I’m not a doctor and you can find both expert opinions online. But having a protein shake and eating an apple are good for your health too. There are non-alcoholic alternatives.
  18. If you think being a Christian that drinks will somehow help you connect with or share the gospel with non-believers, it most likely won’t. And when was the last time you shared the gospel with someone over a beer? Again, if you actually have, more power to you. But I’m pretty sure you could’ve shared the gospel with that person while sipping on a Diet Coke too. If anything, not drinking has given me more opportunities to explain my beliefs to people and why I don’t drink.
  19. Christians are called to stand out, not blend in. The fact is, not drinking helps you stand out, which can help give you a gospel platform.
  20. It is one more potential idol that could distract me from Christ.

Again, let me be clear. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a Christian (who is of legal age of course) having a drink. I won’t hold it against you. I won’t look down on you. I don’t think I’m holier than you or more Christian than you. Alcoholic abstinence is simply my personal conviction, which I have explained above. Just because we have the freedom to do things as believers, doesn’t mean we should and it doesn’t mean it will help draw us closer to Christ – which should always be more important to a Christian than their freedoms. All of my reasons above can be summarized in reason 6: Drinking won’t draw me closer to God and won’t draw others closer to God. To me, it is as simple as that.

I want to hear you on this. Please keep it civil.

What are your thoughts?