Will Rice, who blogs on issues related to technology and churches, says that the beginning of the year is a good time to take stock of your computer and IT needs and to make plans for the coming year.
Whether or not you are one to make New Year’s resolutions, the beginning of a year is a good time to take stock and think about the year to come. With some planning, you can be more effective in your ministry in the new year. This may be a good moment to make some plans for technology in the coming year. Here are a few things you might want to commit to.
When we fail to upgrade our computers, we need to calculate the extra soft costs we are incurring with staff and volunteers.
All churches face budget limitations. Honestly, if your budget isn’t a little tight, you may ask yourself why you aren’t doing more. When the budget is tight, we often cut corners on things, and that can cost us more money in the long run.
Computers are a splendid example. When we fail to upgrade our computers, we need to calculate the extra soft costs we are incurring with staff and volunteers. If you are fortunate enough to have staff, how much time are they wasting because their computers take too long to boot or crash multiple times a day or just work tediously slow? If you consider the fact that you are paying them while they are waiting for their computer to recover, you might realize that a new computer might save you money.
If your volunteers work on computers, do the computers work well or are they a source of frustration? Good volunteers are hard to find, and their time is valuable. It would be tragic to lose volunteers over their frustration with the computers they are using.
How about the pastor? A fast, up-to-date machine will leave more time to spend on the many other things that make up a pastor’s day. Maybe it is time to make sure the pastor has a laptop or iPad so work isn’t always constrained to the office but can be done in multiple locations.
A New or Improved Website
I have spoken with people in many churches who know they need to update their websites or develop a website. Now, at the beginning of the year, might be the time to take action. Now is the time to make your website a priority for the coming year.
Your church’s website may be the first, and perhaps only, impression potential visitors will have of your church. Most first-time visitors will visit a church’s website before the church’s physical location. Make sure your site is mobile ready. Fewer people are going online on computers and are instead reaching for mobile phones and tablets.
Most churches I know are dealing with attendance issues in one way or another. Either they are struggling with declining attendance or they are dealing with space issues from increased attendance. Live streaming can help with either. Declining attendance in many churches is a result of being an aging congregation as well as a more mobile congregation. The cost to live stream your worship services is at an all-time low. Live streaming is a gift for homebound members and members who travel, and it can be a tool for evangelism.
On any given Sunday, I carry about zero dollars in cash and not a single check. And I am not alone. There are people who want to give to the church, but the church needs to meet them where they are.
Online giving can seem like a big leap for churches who have been handling giving the same way for decades. The process of selecting a platform and provider can also seem a bit daunting, but begin by talking with churches comparable to yours that offer multiple means of giving. See which options fit how your members handle their financial lives.
What other tech pieces might make your church more effective in the new year? If these four are not your needs, then you are probably ahead of the technology curve and are ready to pilot new dimensions of technology for ministry from which all of us can learn.
Will Rice blogs on issues related to helping local congregations reach their communities at pastorwill.net. This article is adapted from that blog and used by permission.