“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
People are at your church because they want to engage.
The problem that they face—in many churches—is that churches are not set up to engage the people the way people are used to engaging.
For example, Pew research released these statistics:
- 96% of GenZ owns a smartphone.
- 92% of millennials own a smartphone.
And yet, when it comes to church, people are often left facing a barrier of old websites, excel sheets, gmail chains, and worse—text chains that they have no idea how to escape.
Here’s the reality:
If you want to boost engagement at your church, you have to take seriously one digital medium on which people can engage in a way that feels native to their own digital experience.
This may seem like an odd suggestion—that the church partake in the sort of fad that looks tacky and feels ham-fisted.
Many church leaders will respond to the prompt that the church needs to be more tech-friendly: “But the church has been around for 2,000 years!” Indeed, it has. But so have a lot of things that are decreasing in their prevalence—like physical currency, brick and mortar commerce, and even “mainstream” publications.
Of course, God will sustain the church—it belongs to him!
But we as church leaders are entrusted with it to lead it excellently.
And within all the presumably surface-level conversations about technology and the church, there lies the real “stuff” of discipleship: sin, maturity, redemption, love, communion, marriage, mental health issues, and domestic disputes.
God calls the church to spiritually lead its members through these difficulties.
One of the ways the church leads members is in how it communicates with them.
If it is harder to establish a point of contact with a church because it offers no native medium on which to make contact—that is, if it is noticeably resistant to seeking excellence in the digital space—then it makes discipleship itself more difficult.
It is the church’s responsibility—even its calling—to establish a presence in the digital space as much as the early church was tasked with bringing the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Here are a few ways to boost digital engagement in your church that is neither tacky nor time-consuming.
Get a ChMS
A ChMS is a “church management software.”
It is a digital software that tracks member attendance, provides sign-up forms for events, manages tithes, collects user information, allows you to send emails to members from the platform, and even enables you to manage the spiritual health of your church members on an individual level.
It may sound complicated, but it’s quite the opposite.
The alternative is complicated.
A rat’s nest of google docs.
No thank you.
The ChMS is the line between the amateur coffee shop pastor and the real, 21st century pastoral professional.
The ChMS is the difference between the freelance gigger and the salaried professional.
The ChMS is the single most defining feature of the 21st-century church’s “best communicative practices.”
Start a Facebook Group
A Facebook Group is a simple way to create a private community of those involved in your church to share details, get updates, and connect with others.
This is a great low-budget way to simply connect those in community so that they can organize small groups, stay informed, and coordinate details of church events.
Send weekly texts and emails
Some churches are familiar with sending emails, but are new to text message marketing.
Here’s the truth:
Mass text messages are the wave of the future.
Not the 100-person-text-chain, but the text message software-enabled marketing tool that enables your church to send hundreds of people the same text from a single number without creating any chains that bury people under 50 replies.
Put an “events” calendar on your church’s home page
This might be the easiest way to connect people at your church.
Create an “events” block on your church’s website and insert it directly on the front page.
When anyone has a question about what’s happening, the details, or if they can bring anything, make it “common practice” for your staff to refer them to this calendar.
A digital calendar will teach people to actually use the digital tools that you establish to help them with communication.
Over to you
Your church should seek to cultivate digital engagement in your church for the same reason that the Apostle Paul wrote letters to his churches—and then, wrote follow-up letters to churches who really needed help.
There’s a reason that Paul wrote only one letter to the church in Phillippi, and 4 letters to the church in Corinth (2 lost)—he wanted to give them timely instruction and edification.
He wanted to stay engaged in their lives.
Paul did not consider connection—and then re-connection, and follow-up, and follow-up-again—optional practices. These were Paul’s essential pastoral practices.
If the Apostle Paul could have sent a text message, “FYI all Judea/Samaria Churches: You don’t need to get circumcised to be saved,” he would have done so in a heartbeat.
Remember that as you consider how to cultivate digital engagement among the real people in your church.
It will not distract from the real, face-to-face engagement among your church members.
In fact, the whole point of digital engagement is to make real engagement easier, more efficient, and less of a hassle.