In St. Augustine’s Confessions, he refers to God’s beauty as “ever ancient, ever new.” As Catholic churches, we pass on our rich heritage of tradition to the next generation. But in an ever-changing world, the Church challenges us to a New Evangelization, “new in its ardor, methods and expression.” We know that while technology isn’t the solution, it’s certainly an incredibly effective tool for engaging parishioners and inviting them to greater discipleship. So as we look ahead to 2018, here are some key Church technology trends to keep an eye on.
Media Editing for the People
Once the limited purview of experts, media tools are more user accessible and budget friendly than ever. Need to create elegant, modern promotional materials? Try Canva. Want to find free, professional photography to use as a base? Try photo-sharing sites like CreationSwap, Unsplash or One Secret Mission. Anyone with an Apple computer has access to iMovie. Smart phone cameras have increased dramatically in quality, meaning simple video clips or live streaming a church event on social media looks better than ever.
“Screenagers” Aren’t Going Away
When Snapchat emerged on the scene in late 2012, it was widely seen as a way for friends to share silly messages that would disappear after viewing. The app has evolved into a social media giant with over 173 million active users. With that many users – especially youth – Snapchat is an innovative way to reach the next generation by telling your church story. Instagram also has roughly 472 million users in the 18-29 demographic. If you’re looking to engage young adults at your parish, a well-done Instagram – curated by one of those same young adults with an eye for design or skills in photography – isn’t a bad idea.
The Ongoing Digitization of Currency
If your church doesn’t yet have online giving, it’s time to embrace this technological movement. From 2003 to 2012, check writing decreased from 46% to 15% of all non-cash transactions. It’s not just millennials either. According to a 2014 poll, nearly 28% of respondents over 65 no longer write checks. An online giving portal makes your parish accessible for anyone with a bank account to donate at any time. Platforms that allow for unique campaigns mean links can easily be shared via email or social media. This offers flexibility and visibility for giving opportunities, even to people who don’t attend your parish.
Embrace the Podcast
According to the latest Nielsen statistics, 40% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, with 86% of listeners tuning to most or all of the episode. While your parish might not be the next big thing on the iTunes store, it’s still a medium that is highly accessible to your parishioners…and it doesn’t need to cost much. For inspiration, check out this parish in Texas that started their own podcast. You don’t need to generate unique content either. Fr. Mike Schmitz of the Diocese of Duluth (and popular national speaker) records his homilies on SoundCloud. Tech-savvy parish priests from Maine to Minnesota are doing this as well.
Online Team Collaboration
Team-based productivity apps like Trello, Asana, and Slack are used by organizations across secular markets. For larger parishes with multi-person teams (like faith formation) or for events that require ongoing collaboration (like parish festivals), tools like these are becoming industry-standard to avoid extended email chains and to increase accountability. If your parish is in need of a more robust management tool, look for emerging CRM platforms that combine essential tools with collaborative access features.
What do you think of the Church technology trends of 2018?