Using technology in the Church for God’s Mission
By Christopher Harrison (Rev)
The use of technology has grown to become more efficient and accessible, making possible the ability to connect with people anywhere and at any time.
‘God is a God of motion, of movement, and of mission... Mission is not an activity of the church but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God, Jesus is a missionary Messiah, and the Spirit is a missionary Spirit. Missions is the family business.’ Leonard Sweet (2009). “So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church”, p.55, David C Cook
Part of God’s longstanding mission through the church is what Facebook has as its vision: to bring the world closer together! As with the creation of the ancient Roman roads which expanded the reach of people in their time, so technology and social media has done this in our age.
Does your church have a plan for this? Do you have a social media strategy for your church? If you could meaningfully connect with anyone in your community and beyond, do you have a game plan?
The benefits of technology for mission:
1. Expanded reach for the current context
According to https://buffer.com/library/social-media-sites/ and updated from https://spark.adobe.com/make/learn/top-social-media-sites/ the 21 most popular social media sites outside of China/Asia are the following 15 most used 15 into 2020:
(Note: MAUs stands for Monthly Active Users, and MUVs stands for Monthly Unique Visitors.)
- Facebook – 2.5 billion MAUs – including 6 million business users and advertisers.
- YouTube – 2 billion MAUs – with 1 billion hours of watchers every day.
- WhatsApp – 1.5 billion MAUs – for individuals and businesses for comms and marketing.
- Messenger – 1.3 billion MAUs - a standalone app to advertise, create and send newsletters.
- Instagram – 1 billion MAUs - a photo and video sharing social media app.
- Tik Tok – 800 million MAUs – (Douyin in China) is a rising music video social network.
- Tumblr – 642 million MUVs - a microblogging and social networking site.
- Twitter – 335 million MAUs - a social media site for real-time news and more.
- Reddit – 330 million MAUs - a front page of the Internet where users can submit questions.
- LinkedIn – 294 million MAUs – a professional job site to share content and for networking.
- Viber – 260 million MAUs – similar to WhatsApp and used also for brand management
- Snapchat – 300 million MAUs - focuses on sharing photos and short videos between friends.
- Pinterest – 320 million MAUs - to discover and buy new things and be inspired.
- Telegram – 200 million MAUs - like most others and is often known for how secure it is.
- Medium – 60 million MAUs – a free online publishing platform and to read most articles.
The world’s population is using Social Media, and the Church needs to get on board to use the culture and context for the opportunity for the Gospel.
2. Provides data for informed decision-making
“Facts are friends” is an axiom often used. Year by year the ability to leverage data increases exponentially. Our society is becoming more comfortable this as the protection of personal information laws become stricter. It is important for churches to understand and do the same in a meaningful way.
Social Media platforms will change, and technology will improve, processing speeds will double, and churches need to be involved for the sake of offering the Gospel to all people and nations.
3. Builds Oneness for multi-church collaboration
God has one Church and as church technology increases, the sharing of resources and ministry will become the default mode. Jesus is Lord and Head of the Church, so access is more significant than individual ownership. The fantastic news for the Church is we can get to radically collaborate and share with each other…if we are willing. The heart positioned toward generosity will bless the community and churches.
4. Empowers disciple-making for mobilized and equipped congregations
The world we live in now is making virtually anything free online. The church’s challenge is not about acquiring and passing on information, but how to guide your members through all the knowledge and training available. The role of faith communities will be on how to leverage technology to make sure their church members are following Jesus with the best tools for discipleship, mission and evangelism.
Churches can post the sermons where people use their devices to follow along and take notes from posted notes. Technology enables members and attendees to enhance their discipleship experience through church. Training and discipleship seminars can also be done online.
Questions: How is your church leveraging technology to provide free resources and training to equip your congregation? Are you sharing resources for the sake of mission, evangelism and outreach?
5. Creates greater community engagement
Through multiple means (messaging, emails, videos and blogs) the church can easily communicate directly with all their people, throughout the day and week. Technology allows a greater sense of community that is not dependent on, or even require, proximity.
For example, people sit next to each other each week and never talk. But through technology, people in congregations are engaging through WhatsApp, Facebook or a Zoom online Meeting.
6. Enables increased productivity
Processes and efficiency are much more easily available through smartphones which have all the tools in one place, including calendars, phone books, and communication tools. We then can get more done in less time and free up church staff to focus on more initiatives and love more people.
Will technology damage the church?
Questions like: ‘Will people now stay at home for ‘church’? Will people be less relational? And more are still to be determined, but more people are connecting with the Gospel through technology and this is an opportunity for mission and evangelism. See https://blog.capterra.com/technology-use-hurting-your-church/ for more.
Thoughts on Content Management:
This takes time and some learned skill but is worth the investment. Here are some keys:
- Engagement: Seek to share stories, inviting responses, and get people involved.
- Ask questions: How can we pray for you? What can we do for you? What do you think?
- Encouragement: At least once a week share a story or video, and then linked to the full one.
- Information: People do not want to be ‘sold something. People like to have their needs met, so as them. Then make sure that your content has less than 20% advertising.
Conclusion: Use Technology Wisely
In the end, make sure that it’s us who uses the technology, rather than technology using us.
‘No one "discovers" the future. The future is not a discovery. The future is not a destiny. The future is a decision, an intervention. Do nothing and we drift fatalistically into a future not driven by technology alone, but by other people's need, greed, and creed. The future is not some dim and distant region out there in time. The future is a reality that is coming to pass with each passing day, with each passing decision.’ Leonard Sweet (2001). “SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture”, p.55, Zondervan