Technology is always evolving. Not every innovative new app or piece of tech is relevant to churches, but if you’re a savvy church communicator, you’ll see the ways technology is changing and identify where it overlaps with your work. As you follow tech trends, you’ll also learn to recognize technology that’s going to have a disruptive, powerful effect on the way people do everyday things—like how livestreaming makes experiencing events in the moment more convenient and accessible. This will help you serve your church body well and also help you continue to engage new people.
Here are three tech trends you should keep an eye on:
1. Stories on Instagram and Facebook
When Snapchat introduced “stories” in 2011, brave churches and ministries experimented with possible ways to use these temporary videos. This highly personal mode of communication was ripe with opportunities, but for many churches, it was too big of a commitment for too small of an audience. But stories aren’t just for Snapchat anymore.
Now people are posting real-time, expirable videos in their Instagram and Facebook feeds. If you’re already using these social platforms, storytelling could be a valuable new way for you to keep your congregation engaged throughout the week.
2. Virtual Reality (like Facebook Spaces)
VR is finding its way to the masses. Facebook Spaces—a way for people to connect “in person” over distances using avatars, photos, and videos—is currently in beta.
This could be a fun, interactive way for your church to engage missionaries, connect with out-of-town students, or get ministry teams or small groups together when you can’t find a location that works for everyone.
Like most social technology, the value of virtual reality apps for churches will largely depend on adoption. If people in your congregation are already using it, your church will have more success using it together. This could be a great tool for your staff to experiment with, but even if you don’t, you’ll want to keep an eye on where Facebook Spaces—and virtual reality in general—goes.
3. The importance of mobile friendliness
To build a thriving long-term audience, experts once encouraged churches to put popovers on their sites to promote new sermon series, email lists, or Facebook pages. Popovers can be annoying to viewers on any device, but on mobile the increased load times, accidental taps on your popover, and unexpected screen takeovers are more likely to cause people to leave, making sites that have popovers less valuable. In 2016, more than 60 percent of searches were done on mobile devices.
Now Google penalizes pages that show pop-ups and other interruptions to mobile viewers. That means that if your website shows a popover to visitors who are browsing on their phones or tablets, you can expect your organic traffic to go down.
To keep your site from being penalized, you’ll need to disable all your site popovers on mobile.
Stay on top of tech trends
Tech trends never guarantee what the future looks like, but knowing how people are using technology will help you seize new opportunities to engage your congregation. As new trends arise, explore the possibilities with your staff. Experiment and adapt to what works and what doesn’t.
It’s not about being trendy. It’s about finding new ways to communicate to the body of Christ.