Technology innovation within the church is nothing new. It’s likely you have a website and are communicating with members by email and digital newsletters. In doing so, you’ve already adopted technology that goes a long way in keeping you in conversation with your community.
But maybe you’ve put off other, more complicated changes and you feel like you’re rolling a rock up a hill. Perhaps you’re losing members to churches that offer technology many people have come to know and expect, such as electronic giving, video sermons and live streaming services. If so, how do you catch up while helping your members transition to new technology?
Knowing what to adopt, how to use it, whether you can justify the cost and when you can integrate it into your current operations are all reasonable questions with tricky answers. Even if you sense that your church could benefit from new technology, you may not see a good place to start.
How to help your church change
The first thing to do? Take a deep breath. You aren’t the only church facing these issues, and you can learn from others. Here are five ways your church can start down a path of purposeful innovation.
1. Listen. Identify the changes that will do the most for your church and community. Survey your congregation and visitors to get a clear sense of what they’re seeking. With that insight, you can focus your efforts on what will meet their needs directly, quickly, measurably and simply.
2. Get your leadership on board. This is particularly important if you think a technology change might be controversial. Schedule presentations and hands-on demonstrations with church boards, committees and influential small groups. Talk with influential individuals, even if they aren’t part of an official group.
3. Involve the rest of the congregation. Include your church community in the change! If you started by listening, you’re well on your way. As you go through any change process, keep the congregation involved. Keep communication channels open. Allow time for questions. Be sure that members understand why changes and innovations are introduced, and make it clear that you’re acting in their best interests.
4. Balance real world and digital interactions. Social media and text messaging are not replacements for personal connection. They can, however, simplify the process of sustaining interaction with a large group and encourage leaders to build genuine relationships with members of your church.
5. Assess your resources. Improving technology doesn’t have to be difficult or costly. Some options are free, and many, such as eGiving, are easy to set up. But you will find that implementation will go more smoothly with people dedicated to the work.
Lastly, remember that change doesn’t stop. Innovation is as much a mindset as it is a process. Tap into the people in your church who want to find, implement and support new ideas. Continually evaluate how well new technology is working. Listen to the marketplace, but listen more to your members. Every small step forward is still a step forward.