Some churches resist the digital transformation which is in full swing. They don’t want the distraction.
However, it must be remembered that technology is neither a bad thing or a good thing. It’s simply a thing, and things are neutral. But, it’s a powerful thing that amplifies the good or bad that’s already happening.
Use technology, but don’t abuse it. Let your technology serve your mission, and don’t try and fit it in places it doesn’t belong.
So, should your church offer free WiFi?
Many churches offer free WiFi on their campuses. Should yours? Ministers use their tablets, laptops and smart phones to coordinate ministries, and attendees use their devices to follow along during messages. Ministries can coordinate classes, activities and rosters electronically with things like Realm and The City. Churches can now offer real time access to digital curriculum that is interactive and engaging.
With this said, now let’s take a look at the before and after of offering free WiFi.
Why should you offer free WiFi?
It’s welcoming. Many people have limited data and the extra coin spent on allowing them Internet access may be an investment in a relationship that pays dividends. Leave your network open or put your network password in your bulletin. This helps people feel a part of your community.
It’s a draw factor. Free WiFi in your church’s cafe or fellowship hall may draw in people. They can check a few emails before others show up, or they might promote the ministry by sharing their excitement for what Jesus is doing in your church through their individual social media accounts.
It facilitates interaction. People can download message content to their devices so they can follow along. Pastors can share parts of their sermon or the scriptures they use with those in the audience. Increased connectivity allows more people to use internet poling sites to during messages.
It’s serves people. Not everything we do in church is about us. Sometimes, we do just do nice things for people to serve them. People have limited data. Someone might not be able to run an important update, and your WiFi can help. Someone might need to send an important email or message to loved one, and your WiFi could help them. Someone might not miss a picture of their grand kids without Internet access. Others might finish up a job application, and your WiFi might just bless them.
Things to Consider Before Offering Free Wifi
Filters. Filters don’t stop everything; but they stop some things and that’s good. Filters are a necessity if your youth use your wifi. Find a filter that blocks specific sites and/or words and phrases.
Signup Software. Some access points can have people “like” your church’s Facebook page or provide their emails before they get online. This is a great way to increase your online presence in your congregation’s lives.
Timing. If you don’t use the internet to interact with people during your worship gatherings, turn it off during key points. It doesn’t have to be available all the time. Timing is everything.
Things to Consider When Offering Free Wifi
Social Media. People are going to talk about your church whether you like it or not. Be ahead of this wave. Leverage their social media reach to increase your online presence. It’s the 21st century version of the church T-shirt or coffee mug. Create special hashtags for your ministries or your sermon series so people can share the great things God is doing in your ministry and in their lives.
Interactive Media. Just watching media is old school. Today, people want to interact with media, or they lose their focus. Find ways to get them involved with your message. Use a poling program to gather people’s thoughts before or during your messages. When done right, this can be a great hook to get and keep people’s attention. Find ways to stream your scriptures or content to their devices.
Connection. Create opportunities for people to connect with your church online. Take prayer requests and find ways for people to sign up for ministry events or service opportunities by using applications like The City. The City keeps your church connected on Sunday and throughout the week.
No one has to offer free WiFi to serve God, but some may want to do so.
Are you currently offering free WiFi to your congregation? If so, tell us about it. If not, tell us why!