In the last month, my family and I have picked up and moved from Colorado to Ohio after having lived in Colorado Springs for eight years. Because we are returning to the state where my wife and I were born and raised, but now with three little ones to also incorporate into life and what we need with a church, we have begun to look for a new church. As we look at what gifts we have to offer and what ministries churches have decided to make a focus, it amazes me to see church tech from a visitor’s perspective.
Interestingly enough, the topic of the sermon at the church we visited was a bit on the nose for this article and I had to share it on Instagram.
This process of looking at a church from the eyes of a visitor is by no means new or innovative. In fact, Greg Atkinson has made a business out of it in what he calls “Secret Shopper.” You can read about it in his book he wrote on the topic, but in summation, he visits churches who hire him to see where the church is lacking impact they can make on new families who are visiting for the first or second time.
I wanted to take Greg’s idea and give it a church tech twist for this article and several to come. Church Tech has vast reaches for a church that go beyond how it can serve the congregation. But isn’t that how we typically see it? All of these examples of using technology are specifically for returning congregation members:
- We want to make tithing easier and so we move to mobile giving.
- The volunteers may only have two hours to give on Sunday but do not want to pick between attending service and serving, so televisions with the sermon broadcasting are installed in all Sunday school rooms.
- Managing ministries and small groups can be difficult, so Church Management Software is purchased and integrated to better communicate and manage for staff.
Unfortunately, none of that speaks to new visitors. Here are a couple of highlights to speak to new visitors that you may want to consider. (Note this is by no means an exhaustive list, maybe we will do one of those in the future.)
- A church website specific for new visitors that intentionally explains in quick, basic terms, what ministry are available, times of services, and childcare that is available. With some good UX/UI and web design skills, a login or different landing page for congregation members gives you a completely different experience.
- Your children’s check-in security system works without having to sign up, log in, or giving a ton of information for a family that is overwhelmed by a new building, concerned about their children’s safety, and maybe late getting into the service.
- Have a YouVersion Event setup for people who forget their bulletin, did not bring a Bible, any may not have followed along with the announcement videos.
- Don’t have a million announcements on the video and definitely make it shareable for the live stream and Facebook page.
- Have an open WiFi access. Even if you only open it up on Sundays, allow visitors to use it because nearly every church in America has a terrible mobile connection.
By no means do I have a problem with doing discipleship ministries and activities, those need to happen too. But I want to see us reaching others for Jesus better. This is just a starting conversation on how to look at technology for visitors as you look to bring more people in, be inviting, and stop thinking about “me” and look at “others.”