Many of us took flights over the holidays to visit family. Whether it’s a short hop or an intercontinental haul, there is one constant every time you take a plane trip: “Please turn off all electronic devices.”
Airlines contend that mobile device use during flight could disrupt guidance and communication systems. This is not so for your church. Using mobile devices in church won’t disrupt your guidance: it will enhance it.
Giving apps and mobile bibles
As you look out at your congregation you likely see many people reading their bibles or using a church giving app on their smartphones or tablets. These devices are a part of their everyday lives. This is especially true of younger members. The Barna Institute recently reported findings from a survey on technology use in church. Key among their findings:
Seven out of 10 practicing Christian Millennials (70%) read Scripture on a screen. One-third of all Millennials says they read sacred Scripture on a phone or online.
Part of your church’s mission is to grow and spread the good word. By discouraging or disallowing the use of mobile devices during services, you are eliminating one of the most powerful tools to further that mission. Maintaining the idea that smartphones distract from worship is ignoring the truth.
Let your members be evangelists
Rather than thinking of smartphones as a distraction, think of them as your ally. Instead of telling your members to put away their phones, encourage them to share your message via social media during services.
Your members are connected to hundreds, thousands, or maybe hundreds of thousands of other people on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. Imagine the reach of your word if you told your members, “If I say something you like in the sermon, Tweet about it.”
Sure, they’re looking at and typing on their phones. But if they’re sharing something from your sermon that they found enlightening and inspiring, that means they are engaged. They are enthused by your message and what your church means to them, and they want their network to know.
This approach is especially true if your church uses a mobile giving app for tithes and offerings. There is no need to make your members wait until after church to use the giving app.
The “second screen” and what it means
There is a significant push by broadcasters and media companies around what is known as the “second screen.” That is, smartphones and tablets used during TV shows, movies and sports events to enhance the viewing experience.
It’s not solely up to the broadcaster, though: people are using mobile devices in conjunction with other media and events anyway. During the current football season’s first Thursday night game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, 74% of all the Google searches about the game were made on mobile devices.
You’ve likely done it yourself. Remember way back before the internet when you couldn’t think of the name of the guy who was in the thing? You know, the one about the cake. You’d spend time running through the alphabet hoping to jog your memory. You’d call your mom or your friend. Now instead of wracking your brain on trivia, you pull out your smartphone and go to Google or IMDb and get your answer in seconds.
The implications for church and charitable giving are huge. Those text-to-donate commercials produce results. Encouraging your members to use their mobile giving app right there in church can increase your giving because they are emotionally connected, they’re in the moment.
Churches and the mobile device myth
From sports and movies to your church service, the world is increasingly an interactive place. A great deal of this interaction takes place digitally from our mobile devices. From the same Barna Institute report:
The one-way communication from pulpit to pew is not how millennials experience faith. By nature of digital connectedness, millennial life is interactive. For many of them, faith is interactive as well—whether their churches are ready for it or not. It’s an ongoing conversation, and it’s all happening on their computers, tablets and smart phones. What’s more, many of them bring their devices with them to church.
Companies and brands spend millions of dollars each year marketing to their customers trying to win hearts and minds. Your members attend church because they’ve already bought into your message. By encouraging active participation via mobile devices and offerings with your mobile giving app during church service, you are increasing your reach and furthering your mission–at no cost to you.
The truth is people are already interacting with worship via their devices. It’s time to embrace that truth.