Many technology enthusiasts in the church complain that it has taken us too long to get on the web. We are accused of being reluctant adopters. Digital ministries are often behind the curve. On the outside, our slow pace makes us appear averse to change. Yet the hesitation to move into the virtual world was not without merit. Here is my take on why we were slow, and how we can overcome it.
User Learning Curve
How did the church use other modern communication methods? The very first documented radio show was a violinist playing "Silent Night". Within years of the invention of television, evangelists were creating shows. Yet consider how easy it is to use radio knobs. How user friendly is a television? Then consider the complexities of using a computer. Even locating the icon for a web browser can prove difficult. I will not even get into the trouble of navigating a poorly designed website.
The fix for this is of course education. This sort of training pairs well with hosting a Social Media Sunday event. I would not expect you to have a full course on how to use a computer. Yet you can show members the various parts of your church website. Explain the etiquette and language of using social media. Help them find the digital resources that will most benefit their spiritual life.
Creator Learning Curve
My previous example of radio and television still somewhat apply. Yes, it is difficult to produce radio and television shows. But those tasks were typically outsourced to trained professionals. Yet we gave the task of creating a website to anyone who could turn on a computer. Creating an easy-to-use site is not easy. You need a creative spark for making graphics, writing content, and laying out pages.
Speaking of content, there is quite a bit of it on the Internet. The problem is that most of it is far from holy. Before the Internet, pornography was relegated to a few dark corners of the world. It hid in shady-looking stores and the back of magazine shops. The Internet allows us to take in pornography in the privacy of our own homes. This new era of anonymity has given the Internet a dark overshadow. Many viewed this new medium as an unredeemable method of communication. How could we possibly wade into these murky waters?
First, no method of communication is beyond redemption. In fact, many churches have created ad campaigns targeting people searching for pornography. When someone searches for those keywords, links to their church come up. They provide content that addresses pornography addiction. Add a call to action for more information, and you just might have a new member for a purity support group. The Internet is not dark and foreboding. It is an open platform for messages like the Gospel to flourish.
You might be a church that is not 100% proud of its digital ministries. Realize that this is OK. Many large businesses were slow to adopt digital methodologies. I just pray that you are not suffering like some newspaper and video rental companies. But if you are going to make the switch to more digital products, this is the year to do it. There are a great many tools and services to help you. Get out there and get the message of the Gospel online!
Photo courtesy of Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo