Updated: Sep 5, 2019
Understanding the software and technology that powers engagement
Written and Curated by Garry M. Spotts, M.Div.,
The Internet and the apps and technology that drive it have evolved tremendously since the age of early adopters. In the last thirty (30) years we've seen storage media explode from kilobytes (kb) to terabytes (tb). To get a sense what that actually means, 1 megabyte (mb) = 1,000 (kb), 1 gigabyte equals roughly 1,000 (mb) and 1 terabyte = about 1,000 gigabytes.
To truly understand what is happening, you must first know the differences between the tech and the apps that power it. A computer, whether a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or smartphone is simply the medium for the applications. These are the tools in your home, your office or in your hand that give you ease of access to the applications.
The application is where the real magic happens in your life, work and home. The physical tech, TVs, laptops and tablets have to evolve because the applications that run on those devices require more speed, more space and more processing power. The application or in other words, what you see, interact with and engage with on the screen is the only reason you purchase any of these devices. If there were no applications (apps) then what need would you have for a smartphone, smart TV, laptop or desktop computer? The answer is "None!"
Wondering why the church needs to embrace and master the technology and the apps that power it? Simply put, they are tools that allow you to do what you have already been doing more effectively, more affordably and faster, with greater potential reach.
A website is no longer a competitive advantage, but it is the price of admission to the game of engaging people outside of your four walls. Without the simple technology of a website you effectively cut yourself off from the people who would otherwise benefit from and may be looking for a relationship with you and your community.
Below you will find an article curated from www.capterra.com that highlights research and statistics that validate the need to embrace and master the technology and applications that power them for the sake of your church's
10 Powerful Church Statistics on Social Media Use
1. In 2017, more than half of Bible readers used the internet (55%) or a smartphone (53%) to access biblical texts, a significant increase from 2011 (37%, 18% respectively). (Source: Barna Group)
Takeaway: Your followers are using the internet and social media as part of their worship routine in ever-increasing numbers. You need to have an active social media presence to take advantage of that fact, since that’s where your audience is. Here’s a guide on building your church website, and one on building your church social media strategy.
2. Almost 70% of churches offer Wi-Fi for staff and guests. A 2017 LifeWay Research study found that 68% of Protestant churches offer Wi-Fi for both groups. (Source: LifeWay Research)
Takeaway: If your church doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, you’re in the minority and could be driving guests away. Here’s a guide from FaithEngineer on upgrading your church’s internet situation.
3. More than 70% of nonprofit communicators consider social media one of their most important communication channels. According to Nonprofit Marketing Guide’s 2016 report, 71% of nonprofit communication professionals consider social media one of their most important channels, second only to their website (80%). (Source: Nonprofit Marketing Guide)
Takeaway: If you want to successfully market your church and increase membership, social media is no longer a “nice to have” but an essential line of communication. Here are some great examples of church social media campaigns from pro church marketer Brady Shearer to get you started.
4. Almost 85% of churches use Facebook. In 2017, 84% of Protestant pastors reported that their church uses Facebook as their primary online communication tool. (Source: LifeWay Research)
Takeaway: Facebook is the king of church social media tools. If your church doesn’t have a Facebook profile set up, make that your first priority. A Facebook page doesn’t just give your members a place to interact with each other, it also gives you access to a network of active, online communities where you can get ideas and ask questions. Here are 14 great church Facebook groups to join, recommended by church communications expert Katie Allred.
5. Only about 15% of churches are using Twitter and Instagram. In 2017, only 16% of Protestant pastors surveyed reported using Twitter. Even less (13%) were on Instagram. (Source: LifeWay Research)
Takeaway: Just because most churches are late to the Twitter and Instagram game doesn’t mean you should be among them. According to Statista, Instagram has more than 800 million users, and Twitter had about 330 million as of the end of 2017. That’s an enormous audience to tap into. Start with this Instagram guide for churches, and this one for Twitter.
Takeaway: This stat is a few years old, but email marketing has been around for almost 40 years so it’s still relatively young. The advice here is straightforward: email communications that include a social media link are way more effective at generating clicks from readers. Don’t leave them out!
7. Approximately 51% of churches claim that at least one staff member regularly blogs or posts on social media. According to Christian-centered digital advertising agency Buzzplant, in 2012 74% of churches did not have a paid staff member updating their church’s social media pages. (Source: Buzzplant)
Takeaway: Consistent posting is crucial to social media success, but this task often falls to an unpaid volunteer (especially at smaller churches). The good news is that social media posting is easy; virtually anyone can do it. Give whoever runs your social media pages some guidance, such as these church social media mistakes to avoid.
8. 54% of Christian millennials watch online videos about faith or spirituality. A 2013 Barna survey found that more than half of Christian young people watch religious videos online. Among all U.S. millennials—Christian and non-Christian—the number was 31%. (Source: Barna Group)
Takeaway: Cisco predicts that by 2021, 82% of all consumer internet content will be video. The number of young people watching religious videos online will only increase. To take advantage of this, incorporate video into your social media plan. Here are seven church videos you can learn from, and five tips on creating professional church videos from church media expert Jeremy Poland.
9. 62% of churches use social networking to connect with individuals outside of their congregation. While an even larger number—73% according to LifeWay Research—use social media to interact with their congregation, the majority of churches with an online presence are already using social media as a growth tool. (Source: Facts & Trends)
Takeaway: Social media is a lifeline to your outside community, and one you need to use if you want your church to thrive and grow. As Efrem Smith, co-lead pastor of Bayside Church, Midtown in Sacramento, said, “To stay relevant, the church must diversify.” Use tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share pictures and news with your own church members, and attract new members by promoting events (use hashtags!).
10. 65% of Americans prefer an in-person preacher to a video sermon. About one third (35%) have no preference between live or video sermons, but less than 1% prefer a video sermon over a live sermon. (Source: LifeWay Research)
Takeaway: Don’t worry, video isn’t taking over (yet). Don’t scrap your physical location for an online only campus, but consider livestreaming your services for those who are unable to attend, traveling, or deployed. Here’s a beginner’s guide to getting your church’s livestream set up. Know your congregation; run a survey to determine your church’s needs before diving in.