The New Tech ...and its implications for your church
...with links to 'how it works' and 'how-to
set it up' for your church
article by Neil MacQueen, Sunday Software, originally posted May
with links to resources I've been writing over at
We are in the middle of a communications revolution.
...Is your church?
Texting by cellphone, Instant Messaging,
the technology for how we stay in touch
with each other is
undergoing massive change. And it offers the Church some
tremendous opportunities... if we are willing.
Get Used to
Internet Technology is becoming a
"virtual campfire" around which we gather to tell our stories. Times
have changed, but human needs haven't. Most
of us no longer live in close proximity to our "tribe." And
consequently, we have evolved new methods of staying in
touch and learning from each other. And that's a good thing. Some
naybobs decry the "depersonalization of society" and the distraction
of things like cell phones. But it's important to continue to
improve that which connects us across
distances and busy schedules. Like we say in
church... "Blest be the ties that bind."
At Pentecost, we
see the Spirit blowing the Disciples out of their comfort zone
to go where the people are. And there they are given the gifts
of speaking in a new way.
And ever since
then, we've sought new ways to reach out, share the story, and
stay connected as the Body of Christ ...as we gather, ...and as
we disperse into the world.
Many of these new
technologies help us do just that. They
allow us to speak and share more effectively across the barriers
of time, distance, and budget.
Over the past year I've
been writing about some of these new technologies and how we can
use them in the church. These posts can be found at www.SundayResources.net/neil. The
site has a free subscription feature so that you can get an
automatic alert to every new post. The site also has many of my
other "odd" ideas and challenging questions for improving
the church and its programs. I invite you to browse the
site and look for what's useful and challenging.
BELOW is a brief
description of some of these NEW TECH IDEAS, and links to the full
web articles. I hope they create discussion and help your ministry
keep the campfire burning.
<>< Neil MacQueen
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Twitter... the new
and completely free "phone tree"
A few years ago I helped my
church setup one of those $800 phonetree gadgets...the ones that
you program to call all your members with a voice announcement.
At first, I wasn't sure if it was a great idea. But once they
started using it, I realized what a blessing it was to get
TIMELY REMINDERS. The problem with phone tree is this: It costs
big money, and requires someone to program in and update all the
phone numbers it needs. Enter: Twitter.
Twitter is more than a buzzword or technology that CNN is using.
This innovative new free webservice is taking the internet by
storm, --and for good reason. It's an incredibly powerful new
kind of communications tool. And it's free.
Here's what Twitter
does: You send text a message to your twitter account
using your cellphone, and Twitter broadcasts your text message
to everyone who's signed up to receive your "tweets" either on
their phone at their email address. You can send as many as you
want, whenever you want.
Send reminders about a special
service, an upcoming mission project, meeting notices, emergency
info, funeral announcements, or encouraging observations and
scriptures. Best of all... you don't have to buy the expensive
phonetree equipment or manage the software and phone numbers.
Your church members sign up for it, so they manage their own
contact info. Many churches and pastors are already using it.
Read my article about Twitter,
and how to set it up for your church at
Newsletters...for free or at a discount.
How much did your church spend
on printing its newsletter last year? Did it get read? Was it
timely? Did it help boost attendance? What landfill are all
those copies in right now? How much does your staff dread
having to assemble a newsletter each month?
If you WINCED at any of these questions,
you may be ready for an Email Newsletter, and they're
surprisingly easy and inexpensive to set up.
Read my full article on this subject
There are several ways to do
offers a free email newsletter service to non-profits. Some companies like iContact.com offer discounted email newsletter services to
non-profits with only 'x' number of subscribers. Even if you're
a larger church, their monthly fee is much less than your
monthly postage cost. Not to mention the staff time and printing
costs. And for those who don't have email, you can always print
copies of the email news for them.
2) Churches are posting
newsletters at their websites and letting the automatic
notification of new content feature --which they built into
their website, ALERT members that the newsletter is there. See
my notes in my Wordpress article about setting up a free "subscription
feed" for your church website.
Facebook... now for
"Old Folks" too
See my complete
article on FACEBOOK for the Church at
Facebook.com started out as a
social networking site for college students, and now according
to Facebook's own statistics, it has been overrun by Baby
Boomers. Facebook is the defacto standard and definition of
"Social Networking" on the web. You sign up for a free account,
and post a personal profile, which other registered members can
find and request to become part of your circle of friends.
You can create "groups" on
Facebook. And those groups could be related to your church
groups. And the tools for those groups allow group
members/leaders to contact each other.
Most people are using it to
stay in touch with friends and family members, sharing photos
and stories. Some are using it to job network. Some are even
using it for virtual Bible study, support groups, affinity
groups (ex. peace groups), stay-at-home-mom groups, and the
Facebook profiles remind me of
a youth group exercise where you ask people to write "all about
me" ...their favorites, likes, dislikes, friends, what you did
for summer vacation, what your hopes and dreams are. It allows
people to go beyond "good morning."
My suggestion: sign up for
Facebook and begin exploring. Search the word "church" or
Christian, and learn from those who have already embraced this
amazing way of staying in touch and building virtual community.
And don't forget to look for fellow church members on Facebook. Many
are already there.
LiveChat... it isn't
just for tech support anymore.
IS ANYBODY HOME when visitors
and members come to your church website? We make a big
deal in the church about "extending an invitation" and "reaching
out to others" ...so why not have a live person available when
someone comes to your site?
It's easy with a free 'live
chat' module plugged into the front page of your church's
website. And that live person behind the site can be anywhere.
All they need is a computer and an free instant messaging
account. So your church staff during the day could be saying
"hello" to people coming to your site. Or a volunteer could be
'listening' at night. It's easy to set up and use. I use a
Pluggo.com module at sundaysoftware.com and have written about
how it works and how to set it up at
"Behold someone stands at our website and knocks, if anyone responds
and answers, maybe they will come in!"
2009 Neil MacQueen
Permission granted for local non-profit use.