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Church Communications

Seven Characteristics of a Tech-Savvy Church

I recently listened to an interview with Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll and pastor Jeff Vanderstelt from Soma Communities talking about leveraging communication technologies for the gospel.

Some common characteristics emerged from these leaders whose churches are engaged in technology-enabled ministry.

1. They prioritize the mission. Having a world changing mission is more important than having world class IT. Technology is indispensable to promoting the mission and executing ministry at tech-savvy churches. But, it is always secondary to the mission and the people God is calling the church to reach.

2. They plan for the audience. Careful and prayerful consideration is given to planning for three audiences that can be reached using technology.

Leaders – Technology facilitates ongoing conversation about what’s going on in the field. Sharing stories of life being transformed, obstacles being overcome, the Spirit of God breaking in. Online private communication channels are a place for theological conversations, training and equipping.

Members and attenders – This is a safe place for digital community, exchanging personal information, needs and stories. It enables tighter community.

The masses – Video on demand, podcasts, live streaming, social networking and other tools are used to help the unchurched become familiar with what the church is all about and why a person should care.

3. They choose the right tools. Communication platforms and tools are selected to match communication priorities.

4. They understand the usefulness of technology. Technology allows many things to be done more efficiently, so the church can spend more time loving the neighbor that Jesus talked about. They also know that a message delivered one time on Sunday is not enough. Technology allows the delivery of messages in different forms, syngergistically through different media.

5. They make use of stories. Technology allows the church to get information from people and to hear what’s going on in their lives. Heart wrenching and life changing stories are shared and then used in sermons, blog posts and video testimonies, creating an authenticity and community that didn’t exist twenty years ago.

6. They keep historical records. Church meeting minutes are often minimal at best. Online information and knowledge sharing tools allow everyone engaged in decision making to contribute to problem solving, resolutions and strategizing. This provides a detailed written account of ongoing communication. It also facilitates transitions in leadership, and helps to keep leaders from stumbling over the same rock twice.

7. They change for the good. Tech-savvy churches stay true to principles of the Bible but their methods are always changing. Adopting technology is a part of change. Innovate, create, change or die is more than a catch phrase for these churches.

The question is not whether a church will embrace technology, the question is, when it does, will it be used in such a way that it honors God or not? Mars Hill and Soma Communities have all the wheels turning in the right direction on this value.

Bonus Characteristic: They find the talent. Recognizing the need for gifted individuals to lead, create and maintain technology platforms, it is treated as an area of calling not just a job.