In today’s world, technology makes it easy to stay connected to the people we love. Yet many pastors and church leaders are hesitant to use the power of texting, email, and app notifications with their church family.
Perhaps it’s the perceived “cold” nature of certain forms of technology. Push notifications are for Amazon deliveries and eBay scores. When done poorly, email newsletters can be impersonal, announcement-laced filler. And we all have that friend who texts wa-a-a-a-y too much.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Technology is the medium, but it’s not the message. How and why we communicate is what matters. And not surprisingly, the Bible has a lot to say to the New Testament church on that subject.
Here’s a simple guide to thinking biblically about your church communications strategy, along with practical tips to make the most of today’s technology.
Communicate to encourage
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
For many of us, encouragement comes easier when it’s one on one. It’s somehow more natural to look someone in the eye and offer a word of reassurance. But following Jesus is not without its challenges. We all need encouragement, and we need it throughout the week.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when face-to-face time is lacking, it’s important that we offer each other regular doses of encouragement.
Do you know someone struggling through a particularly hard time? Send them a quick text to let them know you’re praying for them.
Want to encourage all your members to continue in the faith when times get tough? Shoot a quick video message—just two to five minutes long—and push it to your church app or YouTube. Don’t forget to send out a notification.
Communicate to inform
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT).
Life is busy, and we don’t get to connect as often as we’d like. Add to that rolling lockdowns in various places due to the coronavirus, and it can be easy to feel disconnected.
Christians in the first century knew it was critical to keep meeting together—despite hardship and persecution. How much more do we need to connect with one another today? Technology allows for ongoing connection, even when we can’t all be in the same building.
Weekly small group meetings are one thing, but now we can keep the conversation going throughout the week. Texting and in-app messaging allow us the privilege of doing life together, no matter where we are.
Communicate to honor those who are behind the scenes
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
Church services are only an hour or two on Sunday mornings. With worship, teaching, announcements, and a testimony or two, there’s not much room for anything else.
But what about all those people behind the scenes? Wouldn’t it be great to draw attention to the faithful souls changing diapers in the nursery week after week? Or the Saturday crew that keeps the grounds and facilities looking great?
The New Testament tells us we are to consider others more important than ourselves, so why not use your communications strategy to highlight someone often overlooked? Consider an in-app blog post to showcase the faithful service of someone in your congregation. Or it could be a regular feature in your email newsletters. It’s amazing to see how contagious honoring others becomes.
Communicate to remind your church of the truth
“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have” (2 Peter 1:12).
We need the Word of God. We need to read it, hear it, breathe it in, and soak in it. Church tech is a great way to help people get fed throughout the week.
Bible reading can be a daily challenge all by yourself, so consider a church-wide Bible reading plan. Use your app to share the plan, to post messages and devotionals, and to hear insights and feedback from everyone who’s participating.
Another powerful approach is to record short videos where a passage is read and a brief thought or two is shared. These don’t have to be high-quality productions, just an honest and open look at Scripture, designed to keep people reading.
Communicate prayer needs to one another
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
Prayer is essential for the Christian life, and yet many people don’t feel they have time to pray much throughout the week. Others have prayer needs but don’t know where to share them.
One of the best features of a designated church app is a place for prayer requests. It’s like having a virtual prayer meeting on your phone, allowing the members of your church to offer prayer requests, bring each other’s needs before God, and hear how God is answering their prayers.
Communicate to love one another
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).
Most importantly, communicating with your church is a way of loving your brothers and sisters in Christ.
When you love someone, you want to spend time with them. Text messages, emails, and in-app content can all be ways of showing you care. While the technology may be recent, the desire to keep the conversation going is as old as the Christian faith itself.
The early Christians met together “every day” (Acts 2:46). Our busy, modern lives don’t usually allow us to do that, but we can come together as often as that through the phones in our pockets. It’s one of the ways we can love each other.
Over to you
New technology can seem like a burden, threatening to add more things to our already busy schedules. But good tech allows us to do the important things in a new way. How can the right communications strategy strengthen what your church is already doing well?