January 02 2014

Connecting Church and Culture (Part 1)

Technological advancements have made it easier for people in every walk of life to stay connected. What was once a one week mailing process is now a one second click. From the days of sending messages through snail-mail, then through email, and now through social messaging, things have clearly progressed.

So what does all this advancement mean for your church when it comes to connecting with people today? Culture has new expectations for how the church should connect with them and their busy lives.

Most churches rely on Sunday announcements, print bulletins, and their website to keep people informed and connected with the church. Unfortunately research shows this to be an increasingly less effective way to get people to connect with the church. So the question arises, what is a more effective way to connect with today’s culture? In order to properly answer this question we need to take a look at what today’s culture values when it comes to you connecting with their busy lives. Our research shows there are three major communication values you must understand to effectively connect with them. These communication values are unique to today. They represent a significant shift in the medium (how) and timing (when) culture now prefers to connect.

1. Flexibility – Today’s culture is fast paced and overbooked.

People desire things to work around their life so they can fit more in. They value the ability to manage when and what comes into their time and space. Flexibility is a must! DVR’s, instant messaging, social media and mobile apps are just a few examples of how they accomplish this. They can record a show and watch when it fits their schedule.  They can check Facebook when they want, post while on the go, and also leave a message for a friend at their convenience. If they enjoy a particular company or service they can download their app, allowing them to directly connect at their will with everything that company or service has in one convenient place. They love this because they have the ability to do so as it fits into their schedule.

2. Mobility – Today’s culture is mobile in nature.

Mobile devices are the choice of today’s culture! In the last 5 years there has been a ‘Mobile Revolution” in all age groups. Mobile smartphone sales are expected to increase by millions this next year. Tablet sales in 2014 are expected to grow by 70% say many analysts. Computer sales are expected to decrease for the first time ever by more than 10%. These statistics point to a clear change in the means of device people are communicating on today. People are using their mobile device to replace their PC and laptop in many situations. It’s easier to take with them, it stays connected on the go, and it has become a status symbol in most social circles.

3. Inclusivity – Today’s culture is opinionated and they value all opinions being heard, including theirs.

The old saying goes “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. Well, today’s culture would say “People don’t care how much you know, until they know you know how much they know”. People want their opinion heard! They want to be included in every conversation. This is why social media is so huge. Social media allows people to say what they want, when they want, to whom they want. The best way to communicate that you value people’s opinions is to have a means of social interaction wherever you are asking people to engage with your church. Don’t be mistaken, this has become a communication value for people of all ages today. Keeping these communication values of flexibility, mobility and inclusivity in mind will help you greatly as you try to connect with culture in 2014.

Conclusion: It’s time to rethink two major things.

  1. How – Are you using the best mediums to connect with people today (resizeable website, mobile apps, E-News, emails, Facebook, etc.)? Do you incorporate flexibility, mobility, and inclusivity in them? (Changing the medium, not the message).
  2. When – Are you allowing people flexibility in the timing your mediums are used? Staying relevant with the timing and functionality of your mediums is very important.

NOTE – To read more in-depth on the “how” and “when” of connecting with culture in 2014 please read our next blog “Connecting Church and Culture, Part 2”. We would love to hear your opinion, questions or experiences on this topic. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this post.