In part 1, we established the need to redeem the tool of technology to reach this wired generation in ministry. In part 2, we considered some surprising statistics to help us see the impact of technology on this generation. In part 3, we will look at some practical ways to use specific technologies in ministry.
Does your ministry have a website? In part 2, we learned that the website of a college is the #2 recruiting tool and information source that they have, could the same be true of our ministries?
The key to an effective ministry website is to not treat the content like a brochure but like a magazine. How many of you regularly reread brochures? No one! You read the info once, and then you file it away because the content never changes. There is no reason to come back to it. The same is true with most ministry websites! People come to them once and then never have a reason to go again because there is no new content. Instead, it is essential to treat the website as a newspaper or a magazine with regularly updated material that gives people a reason to return to the site.
The other important consideration for your ministry website is the type of information that you are offering people. Here are some guidelines that should shape what content you include on the site:
- Is it simple?
- Is the most important info the most easily accessible?
- Is it up to date?
- Is it visually appealing?
This generation is using social networks like Myspace and Facebook, is your ministry? We had a college student staying at our place recently, and I believe he logged into his facebook account on average 4-5 times per day while he was visiting. It’s a part of their lives, is it part of your ministry?
What are some practical ways to use social networks for ministry effectiveness?
- Get a profile–setting up a profile is quick and easy. The key benefit is that it gives a chance for students to get to know you more.
- Promote ministry activities–By starting a facebook group for your ministry or using facebook ads, you can use this additional outlet to encourage students to plug in.
- Screen applicants–Corporations are using social networks to screen applicants, is your ministry? Social networking profiles are a great resource to supplement the information that you can discern about a candidate for a leadership or missions team position through the normal application and interview process.
- Access contact info–There have been countless times where I have needed someone’s email or phone number, and I have been able to find it easily by looking them up on a social network.
If you are trying to reach this generation in ministry but aren’t using a blog, then you are missing a golden opportunity. Blogs don’t create community, but they help to encourage community that already exists. If you want to start a blog, here are some approaches you could use:
- Encourage others–share what God has been teaching you in a way that challenges them
- Complement your teaching–couldn’t get through all that you prepared in the talk you just gave? Use the blog to post additional insights or illustrations that will keep students thinking about your message long after it was originally given.
- Facilitate discussion–use the blog to create discussion by posting questions related to your teaching and relevant to those in your ministry.
- Get personal–include stories from your personal life so people can get to know you more
- Work together–consider starting a group blog with other leaders in your ministry. This is a great technique because it places less burden or responsibility on each individual and it encourages better discussion.
- Reproduce past material–One of the easiest (and least time consuming) ways to generate quality content for your blog is to take past material (i.e. teaching notes, articles, presentations, etc.) and redeploy them on your blog for a new audience through a new medium.
It is also important to interact with the blogs of those who are in your ministry. This allows you to gain insights into what they are learning and what they are going through. And by commenting on their posts, it provides another outlet to facilitate dialogue. When students post to their blog or social network profile, they are declaring that as public information, therefore, you should have no hesitation about interacting with the material they produce.
Since this generation is so visually oriented, videos are important to your ministry. Videos are versatile tools for ministry. They are great to use for announcements because you can include students, and they allow you to control the length of time of the announcement while improving quality. They can be incorporated as teaching aids to illustrate your points (I like several videos at Sermon Spice). They can also be good teaching tools, such as the Nooma videos (which are great but need to be used with discernment) or the Way of the Master DVD’s which are helpful in the area of evangelism.
Does this all seem overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. How? With your ministry website, you can often find a dedicated and skilled student who is willing to invest the time to keep it updated. With your social network profile, it is very easy to maintain once you start it. With your ministry blog, you control how much or how little time you invest into it.
In part 4, we will wrap up by considering some technology resources that can benefit you personally in ministry.