January 07 2014

Connecting Church and Culture (Part 2)


In Part 1 of our post “Connecting Church and Culture” we discussed the importance of understanding the new communication values of culture today: flexibility, mobility and inclusivity. In Part 2 we are going to discuss how these three communication values apply to the church specifically.

The Local Church Challenge: Let’s take a look at some ideas of how churches can better apply flexibility, mobility and inclusivity to how they connect with people today. (These are meant to be a starting point, not an all-inclusive list).

1. Announcements:

The challenge every church faces with the classical way of doing announcements is that it takes up precious time in middle of the service, people are often disconnected, and 1/3 of people will miss them that week (the average church attendance is at 64% each week). Many churches put their announcements on their website, which is good, but they are rarely checked by people in their church community.

We recommend making announcements interactive with something like Proclaim Presentation Software and e-newsletter approach that goes out each week at the same time. This allows you to keep your Sunday service announcements short and to the point. But most importantly, it works great within the communication values of today’s culture. People can look (and re-look) at them when they want, it’s mobile friendly, and if done right, it has a place in it for people to ask questions and share their opinions. It can also incorporate “social-share” which means people can share on social media if they desire. Here is a simple example where a church is using www.mailchimp.com (a very affordable option) to make weekly E-Newsletters.  We have also included a link for Proclaim Presentation Software:

2. Giving:

The giving culture in churches greatly differs from church to church, but regardless, there are ways to better connect people with your desired practice of generosity.

Statistics show 80% of men do not carry a checkbook today, and with both males and females cash is becoming very rare in today’s credit/debit “card-culture”. This reality means giving in church is not as convenient as it once was. It’s time to go online and mobile with your giving! Many churches have recently seen their online and mobile giving account for over 50% of all giving. The keys, a reoccurring giving feature, a mobile app with giving, and a website that is resizable. This allows people to give anytime they want, even from their phones. Whether it’s payday or after church when they get home, mobility makes giving easy.

Mobile apps today are affordable, easy to use and include online giving. To find out more about a mobile app for your church we have included a link:

3. Website:

It’s time to go resizable! Resizable (sometimes referred to as responsive) simply means that the website will adjust sizing perfectly based upon the device that is accessing the website. This means you can look on your phone browser and things are easy to see and read. When you open your website on a tablet or PC you will have a view that is also perfectly sized, regardless of your monitor size.

Currently most church websites have a 25%-30% mobile viewing percentage; churches in larger cities have as high as 40%. This means around 1/3 of people that come to their website have a bad viewing experience if its not resizable. If you have just a classical website, mobile viewers will struggle to navigate the site because things are too small to read and hard to find. This will greatly impact people’s use of the website and definitely impact your ability to connect with them.

You can upgrade your current website to be a resizable one fairly easily. One company we like to recommend our customers to is 5j Design, they are affordable and excellent at resizable website conversions. You can also see if your current provider has a “resizable” upgrade package.

Conclusion:

Take some time today to think through flexibility, mobility and inclusiveness in the context of your church. The goal is to discern how to better connect your church with the culture around you by looking at the mediums you use, but not changing the timeless gospel message.

Some changes can be big and costly, but others are small and simple. What’s important is to discern what is a “good thought” and what is a “God thought” for your church to focus on this year.

We would love to hear your opinions, questions or experiences on this topic. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this post.