By Abby Kahler
Though small churches rule the world at the moment, there is a lot of change going on in terms of church tech that affects even the tiniest church. It’s definitely important to have a strategy in place to implement these trends, but at the same time it’s easier than ever to access great design materials, foster communication on social media, and market your church online.
Here are the big church tech trends happening in 2017!
1. Even Nicer Church Presentations
As worship software and presentation software for churches proliferate online, more and more churches are able to project high-quality announcements and lyrics during the service. Expect to see this trend becoming more ubiquitous and for subtle animations on lyric slides to become commonplace during worship.
2. Better Design..and for Less
It’s so easy to find free, elegant graphic design tools now that every aspect of designing for the church will become easier. Weekly programs, announcement slides, event invitations can all be made in a snap on Canva with free images from sites like Creation Swap, even by someone with little design experience!
3. Digital Event Registration
Most church management software has already been packing event registration features for a while now, but now there are even more ways to do it. The City has a particularly handy feature that allows users of their social network to be automatically signed up for events in the church management software when they respond to an event post online. Expect to see SMS becoming a widespread way for church members to sign up for events.
4. Live Streaming
Many megachurches use live streaming as their primary method of outreach. However, as medium-size churches scale up to become large churches, and live streaming technology becomes more accessible (some solutions are even free, like Ustream.tv), livestreaming is becoming more feasible. Not only can it direct much more traffic to your site, but it’s a great way to reach homebound or active military congregants.
5. Location-based Marketing for Churches
Though it probably sounds like the distant future for most churches, they can now use technology like beacons, which send push notifications to smartphones via a church app or registered email or phone number once the smartphone is within geographic range.
Many retailers use this tech to promote products and deals, but it could also be a great way for churches to promote events and markdowns in the church bookstore.
Though the concept seems high-end, the hardware itself is actually fairly reasonable, usually less than $100. So if your church is interested in new methods of promotion for a very mobile congregation, this could be worth checking out.
6. Snapchat for Churches
Churches are on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube now, but what about Snapchat? Since the app is directed mainly at millennials, it’s not a great solution for churches made up mostly of families and the elderly, but it can work well for young congregations of all sizes.
Given the highly personal feel of Snapchat and the ability to easily broadcast moments from a live event, this software can help make youth group members feel more connected and bring the church into everyday life.
7. Redesigning Your Church Website
It wasn’t long ago that most churches ran their website off WordPress. Wait, that’s still how they do it? While WordPress is definitely a great solution for smaller (and some mid-size) churches, there are plenty of churches that are ready to upgrade and start using church management software with integrated website management tools.
There are pros and cons to getting an all-in-one solution, but it’s hard to argue with those great design tools and the ease of access for church staff who want to be able to edit an advanced website without having a coding background.
8. Multi-Media Messages
As churches gain access to more and more online platforms, it becomes possible to promote the Sunday message in multiple places, increasing its reach and visibility. Any church that records its sermons already is probably going to upload them to a popular video host like YouTube or at least their church website, but there are other ways to promote the message as well. A church blog post containing the pastor’s outline of his sermon and audio podcasts are worth checking out.
What church tech trends have you been noticing? What are some trends you would like to see in the coming year?
Abby Kahler specializes in church management software and is a graphic designer for Capterra, a company that loves connecting buyers and sellers of business software, www.capterra.com.