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:
1. 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?