SUMMARY: Worshipping never has been limited to sitting in a pew. Connecting to God happens everywhere—kneeling before bedtime, sitting with those who are ill, asking quietly for help before a big test.
Now, technology is exponentially increasing ways to engage in worship outside the traditional service. Creating these for tech savvy adults and youth also may let you reach an audience completely new to your church.
Americans ages 18 to 29 are considerably less active in organized religion than their older counterparts, according to the most recent Pew Forum on Religious and Personal Life research. What may surprise you is these Millennials consider themselves traditional in their religious beliefs.
Combine that news with the fact that the Millennials are the most enthusiastic generation embracing technological and communication advances, and you’ll see quickly why your church should reach out to the tech savvy. Consider these five ideas and get started.
1. Bible reading on the go. YouVersion, a LifeChurch.tv offshoot, hosts an online Bible and community. It is free and allows users to take the Bible on the go with multiple mobile applications, languages and translations. YouVersion also offers more than 20 reading plans that differ in translation, Scripture length, frequency of delivery and topic focus. Readers choose a plans that fit their schedules and lifestyles. For example, readers can pick a translation they like, such as “The Message,” then choose a reading plan from the Gospels that delivers one chapter, twice a day. The entire Bible (multiple Bibles if you account for translations) can fit into a pocket!
2. Online prayer requests. Forget online shopping! How about online prayer requests? Wufoo offers an easy-to-use online form service many churches use to accept prayer requests. Churches can customize the form (make sure to include your church name and/or logo as well as your location in the introduction so people know where you are.) Here’s an example that asks if the request is for prayer or praise as well as to whom the request is intended (pastor or entire church) and contact information. The program is versatile so it can be customized as this example shows. Some churches also allow anonymous prayer requests.
3. Twitter inside and out. Share your Twitter account info on your Web site, in your church bulletin and anywhere else you post your Web address. Read about developing a Twitter strategy in this past MyCom article. Share news and inspiration with your followers throughout the week. Ask the tech savvy to help create a Twitter worship service. If you have multiple types of services, this would work well at the one attended by those most interested in nontraditional worship. Prior to the service, have the tech savvy folks help others set up Twitter accounts and sign up to follow your church. On Twitter Sunday, ask everyone to bring their laptops or smart phones (ensure wireless access is available and can accommodate larger demand than normal). Churchgoers can participate in the service—answering questions posted by the worship leader, sharing their thoughts, and reading them posted on the screen or a wall. Even the stay-at-home worshippers could participate via Twitter and if possible, a live webcast of the service.
4. Sermons go video. Videoteaching.com offers a plethora of online resources to share Christian-oriented messages. Visit its learning center first; then explore the list of topics and speakers separately. We found searching with a few keywords was not as effective as reviewing the speaker lists and title options. A free service, Videoteaching.com, touts itself as a way to help churches bring in top speakers or guest preachers. In addition, it also suggests using the service to give pastors a break—to free them occasionally to focus on other church-related ministries or to let them take a vacation, knowing an inspirational minister (in video form) will be there.
5. Movie making. Create your own videos and movies to involve all facets of technology—sound, videography and editing. Inexpensive, high-quality video cameras, such as the Flip, enable your church to create films. (Read this previous MyCom article on Flip for specifics.) Perhaps a ministry wants to share its story or the church is hosting an event. Think about how video could tell those stories and market the activity. Then grab the tech savvy and start filming. Apple’s iMovie and Windows Movie Maker are easy-to-use software to edit and enhance video for posting on YouTube and your Web site, playing during a service or an event, and sharing with friends and families. A picture (or video) can make a much bigger impact than words alone.