Technology and the Church: Using new media to communicate faith

BY: CYMT General

 

Technology is a way of life for teens and most adults these days with social networking, databases, environment enhancing technology, media, and general communication. So many people seem to have transitioned into using technology in ministry seamlessly, while others are struggling or simply refuse to mess with it.

Forms of Technology

There is a wide range of technology available for ministry use. Most likely as you read this you might be aware of other newer applications that are available. It’s an ever changing field that is tough to keep up with without constant updating.

Top applications for different areas of ministry:

Church Database

  1. ACS
  2. Shelby

These two are pretty widely used in church database software. They each have multi-layered functions and applications within their software. Their main function is to keep up with attendance, track membership, keep all personal data of each member/church attendee, and you can also export to other pieces of technology such as a PDA, cell phone, or computer.

Low budget option: create an Excel spreadsheet with your students’ information in it. Set up the different cells to track attendance and any other information you would like to input.

Presentations

  1. Pro Presenter
  2. Media Shout
  3. Prezi
  4. PowerPoint or Keynote

Pro Presenter is the premiere presentation tool. It’s used by many touring bands for amazing background designs and for projecting song lyrics on the “big screen.” It does not have the trouble other software might have with distorting images and also does not require you to duplicate images and backgrounds. It has live camera capabilities and has many other great features. There is also new Windows-compatible software, so if you don’t have a Mac…

Low Budget option: PowerPoint or Keynote. These applications will do the job; however, they don’t have the seamless transitions of more expensive software, and it takes much more work to get set up for each presentation.

Social Networking

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. MySpace (especially for bands)
  4. Formspring

Facebook is the most used way for social networking with students. It has great ministry application and can be used to form your own youth group Facebook account.  Time and time again, youth say it’s THE way they would like to be connected. Twitter is shifting to be more widely used by youth as they begin to fully understand Twitter as a communicator.

Low budget option: All of them: they’re free!

Communication

Youth

  1. Text messages
  2. Email
  3. Facebook
  4. Phone calls
  5. Some print material

Adults

  1. Print material
  2. Email
  3. Phone calls
  4. Some will have Facebook or text message

With both adults and youth, the best communication is in-person face-to-face communication. Remember that adults want and need to be communicated with differently than youth. Along with the database software, there are options for computerized phone tree calling, mass email services, and many other portal functions you can buy in order to step up the look and presentation of your emails. As far as print material, there are many Adobe options, Microsoft Word or Pages templates, and other multimedia templates.

Low Budget options: Microsoft Word or Pages, Facebook, Email (Mail Chimp is an email service that is free up to 500 people with great looking templates), and phone calls.

Ministry Implications

Obviously there are many different ways which technology can be used and you will find that some work well in your church and others are completely useless. The main work of technology should be connectivity. Its work is to get information out in ways that connect to individuals and the group as a whole. In ministry we want and need to stay connected. You must constantly monitor its effectiveness in connectivity. If it’s not connecting with anyone or helping anyone stay connected, then it should be abandoned and you should look for other ways to connect.

With presentations, the right software coupled with a good projector can completely change a youth environment in a good way. A laptop, a projector, and ProPresenter are all you need to create an amazing world for youth to participate within through worship, videos, or any other multimedia work. Just like in life, everything that technology should point to is the glory of God. If it’s a distraction or you spend more time with it then with actual students, it should go away.

Pick your applications wisely. Try out the free trials before you buy. Make sure you have the required software, computer, and projector before you buy. Does it enhance and detract?

Appropriateness

What ever you do online can be seen by anyone. The updates you make to your online account will be seen by the youth in your youth group. They will creep on your profile and look at all your pictures. Make sure you carry yourself as the Godly person you are supposed to be.

Facebook Etiquette

  1. Stay positive and affirming.
  2. Only encourage and build up students. Don’t give them a hard time or get on to them for their posts.
  3. Send them direct messages for personal stuff.
  4. Your job is NOT to be the online police. Students often feel that social networking sites are a place to blow off steam…let it go.
  5. If messaging gets too deep, take it to the phone or a face-to-face meeting.
  6. It’s not necessarily an appropriate place to communicate with adults. Digital adult communication is still better to be done via email.
  7. Don’t forget that EVERYONE can see what you post.

Questions to Ask Yourself and Discuss with Your Team

  1. What type of media can you use or feel like would be useful in ministry at your church?
  2. How dependent on technology are you in your ministry? Is it the crux of your ministry? Is the technology you use effective?
  3. What technology would you like to explore in ministry? How would you use it?
  4. Do you feel that technology is the wave of the future that we all must get on or be left behind as an irrelevant youth worker?
  5. Do you feel pressure to be up on all the latest technology?
  6. Are you the person the church comes to for all things technology to the point that you should be getting paid for all the time it is taking out of your week? Do you see this as a problem?

Further Reading

youthministrygeek.com
www.effectiveym.com/category/youth-ministry-and-technology/
youthministrytech.com

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