Their attitudes might play well to the few people who still don’t have computers and don’t engage in social media like Facebook and Twitter. That group might constitute 4 percent of the U.S. population. But it misses the 96 percent who do use computers, depend on e-mail and are turning increasingly to social media.
Why distance themselves from the people they are trying to serve?
Yes, I understand that they haven’t kept up with technology. Getting caught up would take time and some swallowing of pride and asking for help.
Yes, I understand that, compared to personal interactions, digital connections can seem lame.
All I can say is: Get over it.
Meet people where they are, and speak to them in words, images, videos, audio files, posts and Tweets that they can understand. E-mail usage is plummeting among young adults. If you want to reach them, use the tools they use. Ask around. The selection changes daily.
Even among adults older than 30, Facebook is replacing e-mail as a regular communications tool. I’d say 25 percent of the messages I receive from the ages 55-plus portion of my readership now come on Facebook.
How much do you as leader of a multichannel church need to know about technology? A lot. You need to be at the cutting edge. You need to be seeing opportunities as they emerge. You need to be reading about technology trends, downloading white papers on social media marketing, reading reviews of Google+ groups and Facebook fan pages.
You need to be looking for ways to leverage these affordable tools — many of them free — to “grow your brand,” “penetrate new markets,” “become a thought leader.” Yes, you have spent your ministry trying to avoid such biz-speak. But again, get over it.
My friend the agency director, for example, has been trying to launch a new program using the tools she knows: postal mail, e-mail and telephone conference calls. It isn’t working. Responses are low, meeting attendance minimal and conference calls deadly.
She needs to be blogging, seeing prospective group members as a group to nurture with snippets of attention and information. She needs to be telling the stories that explain why the group matters, not just inviting people to group meetings. She needs to compete with other claims on prospects’ time — and to compete with tools that work.
This issue of technology is emblematic of the multichannel church challenge itself. Basically, the world has changed. To touch lives, we must understand those changes, adapt to them as best we can and tell of a God who is as much present in the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn world as God was present in the wilderness of Sinai or the Sermon on the Mount.
How, then, do you get up to speed and stay at high speed? Seek out a social media strategist — there’s probably one in your congregation or friendship circle — and ask for help. I have been gathering names of affordable strategists and would be happy to send them to you.