The technological revolution we've seen in churches over the past 30 years is staggering. What's even more remarkable is the speed at which technology in the church continues to improve.
Simply having a screen was once considered a novelty in many churches, and overhead slides were used to project lyrics. Now, multiple screens with video or animated backgrounds are commonplace in our worship centers. Online giving was groundbreaking five years ago. Now, it's a core function included in every major church management software on the market.
Church websites, apps, live streaming, video-based curriculum and podcasts are but a few of the new ways churches are using technology. And they are almost all assumed at many churches. Of course, many churches do not use some (or any) of these technological advances available to them. And honestly, neither your church nor mine really need any of them to function as a church. There are countless churches all over the globe with little to no technology that are making disciples in ways that would put to shame some of the most technologically driven churches in the U.S.
However, many of our churches do utilize these technologies—and we are always looking for what's next. So here are seven technological advances churches should watch for in the future:
1. Computerized Child Check-In. With the emphasis being placed on child safety in the church, computerized check-in will likely become mandatory for churches over the next decade. When a mom drops her child off in a preschool classroom, she wants to know her child will be taught well and kept safe. Computerized check-in helps with half of that equation. The next point covers the other half.
2. Online Leadership Training. As our lives become more and more busy, we are less likely to spend hours upon hours in training sessions at the church building. Online leadership training allows church leaders to train in the margins of life on their own schedule. Better-equipped discipleship leaders become more effective disciple-makers.
3. Spotify Playlists. When we spoke with Mike Harland on the podcast recently, he mentioned churches having a core list of songs for them to know and sing. Spotify playlists allow your members to become more familiar with the songs they will sing on Sundays and to enter into times of personal worship throughout the week.
4. Text-to-Tithe. Online giving is now the norm for many church members. But text-to-tithe (my term) allows those who might be unprepared to give the opportunity to worship through the giving of tithes and offerings. People prefer to give in different ways. Churches that offer multiple paths for giving nearly always see an increase in total giving.
5. Video Announcements. The biggest positive of video announcements is the ability to control the length and professionalism of your announcements. The biggest drawback is that sometimes people will tune them out. Video announcements are not for every church, but many churches use them very effectively.
6. Online/App Delivery of Curriculum. We are seeing an increase in digital curriculum at LifeWay. While there will always be a place for printed curriculum, the ability to have your weekly lesson at your fingertips all the time is convenient for many leaders and learners.
7. Environmental Projection. This might be the newest thing in church technology. In fact, I have yet to see this in practice in a church service I've attended. I have seen videos, pictures and demonstrations, but not an actual worship service. But the ability to transform blank rooms into various environments by projecting scenes or graphics onto the walls of the room brings a new flexibility to existing spaces. And the results of a well-planned environmental projection display are staggering.
Those are some of the trends I'm seeing in churches in the U.S. What would you add? Is your church using any of these? How is it working out?
Jonathan Howe serves as director of strategic initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of lifewaypastors.com. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.
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