A few days ago I was called by Laura McFarland, a news paper reporter, from the Rocky Mount Telegram. She asked me a very specific question, “How has technology changed the job of a pastor?”
I think it is a great question and it took me a few moments to process an answer for her. Technology is rapidly changing the life of pastors. I see it impact my job more and more with every year that passes. I would break it down into three primary areas:
For pastors, our job is people first. I desire to connect with people so I can help them build a better relationship with God and with one another. Today, that connection is not only established face to face but also digitally. The average church in the United States is less than 100 people and if we truly want to reach others we have to communicate with them:
- - The average teenager sends 50-100 text messages per day (adults are rapidly adapting texting as a form of communication as well)
- - 75 billion text messages are sent every month
- - 22% of people say that a text is easier than a phone call
- - 50% of facebook users log in daily to use the social networking tool
- - The average facebook user has 130 friends
- - As a group people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on facebook
I could add twitter, skype, and blogging statistics, but I think you get the point. Digital media and social networking tools are a part of relational connectedness with the world around you. Plus, the younger you are the more you rely on it to maintain your friendships. I’m in my late 30′s and I use facebook regularly to stay in touch with people around the world.
Now translate that into the local church and we’ve got something really powerful and important to add to the working life of a pastor. When I first started serving at Hope Summit one of my first compliments was around my use of facebook. A woman my first Sunday at church thanked me for my facebook usage! She said, “Frank, thanks so much for talking with us on facebook, we’ve been waiting for this!” It was neat to see how something so simple like facebook gave us an opportunity to know one another in a better way.
I’ve also noticed another interesting trend. I ask every new person I meet at Hope Summit this question, “How’d you find us?” More than 50% tell me that they found us on the internet. Churches can no longer ignore digital media and technology, it’s essential for ministry.
The second thing tech does to change my job as a pastor is it helps me accomplish more work in less time.
- - My laptop keeps me mobile and I can write sermons and research on the road, at home (if my boys 3 and 5 will let me!) or in the office.
- - If I have my smart phone I can pull up any Bible verse in an instant.
- - I can accomplish a Greek word study with the click of a mouse.
- - With bible software like Logos or Quickvserse I can research thousands of resources on any topic or scripture verse in seconds!
When writing a sermon I used to have 6-8 books opened on my desk, now I have 1 or two favorites along with 10-15 on my laptop. It actually makes me a better preacher. Why wouldn’t you want the ability to use more resources for better research in less time?
Not only is technology helping us connect and save time but it is also becoming more and more affordable. That means even smaller congregations can access these tools at little or no cost. Laptops are now less than $300.00 and you can pick up an average projector for less than a thousand.
With simple tools like screens and projectors we can more effectively:
- - Show video clips for sermon illustrations
- - Let the church see something that happened instead of telling them
- - Utilize PowerPoint to make our sermons easier to follow
- - Keep the church informed and up to date using text alerts
- - Use a combination of mobile and visual tech all at once with companies like jarbyco and engage the congregation in creative was like a live poll via text messaging.
Those are a few of my thoughts on the topic, and my conversation with Laura was great! Technology and media on a Sunday morning not only saves us time but it also makes a better presentation and helps us connect to a younger crowd that most churches need to do a better job reaching.