Ok, picture this! Sicily, 1816........ok, ok. I had a Golden Girl moment for a spell, but seriously picture this: Philadelphia, 1816 in an old blacksmith's shop with an anvil being used as a pulpit for the preacher. He has hand written his sermon that must have taken hours to complete as he continually fills his quill pen with ink. There are no big projection screens to drop down to display the scriptures or songs and the announcements are by word of mouth or horseback and takes days to circulate. The information highway is slow, but probably progressive for that day in age.
Not even ten years ago, you did not see preachers preaching from an IPad as the preacher in the illustration above, much less use a bible app to read the scriptures. Fast forward ten years and just about everyone has an IPad, IPhone, Computer, Blackberry or Android. The days of hand written sermons are almost obsolete and carrying a bible is just as gone. Many preachers have these electronic gadgets for convenience and information. The way we function as a church on the technology side, however, is still archaic.
Most of our churches are still operating archaically and could stand an upgrade. Our secretaries are still using typewriters. The filing system is not backed up by flash drives (most don't even know what a flash drive is) or CD, email is a foreign language to some of our older members and some don't even own a cell phone. Believe it or not, most churches do not have a website, although there are many companies such as www.webs.com, that offer free services as long as you maintain the webpage yourself (I created and manage both my church and the Midwest Conference WIM webpages). Conference calling is not being utilized in our local churches. I could go on and on about how "technologically stunted" we are, but let me offer some simple ways a church that may be low on funds to minister effectively using technology.
- Buy at least one used (year 2006 to current) computer, with internet access, for the secretary's office. This will help the secretary schedule, file, research and a host of other things that used to take five pieces of equipment to do.
- Start a texting ministry of important dates and functions. Most people have cell phones and Young Adults and Youth do a lot of texting. They will read your text before they pick up the phone to talk.
- If you have been blessed enough to have more than one computer in your church, offer FREE basic classes to older adults. Pick a teenager or young adult in your congregation (because trust me, they know this stuff). Teach your "seasoned saints" how to set up an email account, Facebook account and basic functions on how to access websites.
- Install bible apps on your cell phones and IPads. The one that I use is YouVersion Life Church. It has over 20 versions of the bible, cross references, daily reading plans, highlighter, notes and a whole lot of bells and whistles that make this app a joy to have. It is also a free app.
- Get your church a webpage! WWW.WEBS.COM provides an opportunity for churches that are financially challenged to create and maintain a webpage. However, keep in mind that some services are only offered if you purchase a package and the amount of information is limited, but for it being free WEBS gives you a lot of space to work with.
- Get your church a free conference call number for those times where a physical meeting is not possible. I did that for our conferences' WIM (Women in Ministry). Just make sure that you send reminder emails along with the phone numbers and access codes. This service is free but you have to have long distance on your phone with a decent plan. I have a family plan with 1500 shared minutes which I barely use. I'm a texter, but that plan comes in handy for calls such as these.
- Create a Facebook account for your church. It's free!