Every year there are new tech trends, many of which crash and burn (sometimes literally—we’re looking at you, hoverboard), never to be heard from again. But some innovations stick and just keep getting better over time.
For the past several years, more and more churches have been experimenting with new technology, weeding out the fads and utilizing only the most effective tools. The church technology trends we see for 2018 are the ones that have proven to be beneficial in the early stages—we think you’ll be seeing a lot more churches picking up on the below technology resources in the coming months.
Church Technology Trends for 2018
1. The use of Snapchat for engaging younger audiences.
If you’re looking for ways to capture the attention of youth and millennials at your church, using Snapchat is a great way to meet them where they’re at. According to Pastor Godbee at the River Church, storytelling is the most powerful form of communication, and more churches are turning to Snapchat, an equally powerful social platform, to tell the “story” of their connection to family and community. In case you’re not familiar with it, Snapchat encourages storytelling by enabling users to create and share a combination of text, photos, videos, and more. Sunday Mag has some great ideas for ways to use Snapchat to tell your church’s story, like creating trivia questions about the most recent sermon. The only caveat is that, since it’s all about sharing content “in the moment,” (you create photos or videos and send them to your network instantly) if you’re planning to use this technology in church, it does require some degree of preplanning—you can’t produce the content you’ll use ahead of time.
2. The use of church management software and online tools.
Church leaders and administrators want to be organized and efficient, but this is often easier said than done. Church management software is invaluable in assisting with those goals, and its popularity is predicted to rise. Part of the reason for that is simply because there are so many software options available, but it’s mostly because you can do so many things with it—from donor tracking to event registration to digital reporting and more.
Free, open-source software (if you don’t count the support costs involved) is also becoming more prevalent, as it allows churches to customize the tool to meet their management needs. Even churches that don’t commit to a complete church management software package are starting to take advantage of online resources like Trello to organize volunteers and collaborate with other leaders and administrators.
3. The use of video.
We all know how much people love video. Until now, only technologically-advanced churches were using video to create brand awareness and engage the community, but we think a lot more churches will be following suit in the coming year.
There are a lot of reasons to use today’s video technology in church. Video announcements are more memorable than ones that are read, video promotions can be used on Facebook to promote upcoming sermons, and welcome videos help showcase your church’s personality more than words ever could. (Check out these awesome church videos as an example.)
Live streaming is another great way to incorporate technology in church services. It’s a necessity for multiple-campus churches that need to serve more than one geographical location, but live streaming can also be used to promote and broadcast special events, weekly morning prayers, and other things.
4. The use of podcasts.
A 2017 survey shows that 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast—and that’s up 11 percent from 2016. But what’s especially cool about this technology is that it also reaches a broader age group than some other types of technology—25- to 54-year-olds. Additionally, podcasts are becoming more easily accessible (you can listen using Amazon’s Alexa, for instance, rather than the usual method of downloading and retrieving), so their reach may broaden even more in the near future. The churches that have already ventured into the world of podcasting are using them to create Bible studies or devotionals, or to record their weekly sermons. These pastor podcasts might inspire you to create one of your own.
5. Incorporating online giving.
There are many reasons why some churches have started offering online giving options. Aside from the fact that promoting automatic, recurring donations is a smart thing to do, the 24/7 availability of online giving widens the donation window to every day of the week—not just Sundays. It’s also wise to use online giving in conjunction with social media, as people are often more responsive to donation requests being shared by friends and family members. Mobile apps and text giving are also on the rise.
6. Location-based marketing.
Marketing to people based on their location or proximity to a location is being used by businesses everywhere, and is becoming more popular with churches as well. If a congregant or member of the community has either downloaded your church’s mobile app or provided you with their email or mobile number, beacon technology can pick up their location and send them a timely message about a church service or a church-sponsored event taking place nearby.
Churches are likely to find lots of creative ways to use location-based marketing in the year ahead. Having a sale in your church bookstore? Send congregants a reminder if they happen to be passing by. Or, if some congregants are traveling where your church has a nearby branch, let them know you’re around the corner so they can attend service if they like.