It’s no shock to say that most people use technology on a daily basis. Email, shared docs, spreadsheets, service planning, you name it. While technology isn’t new in churches, using it effectively for relationships is new. Many churches attempt to do it well. Yet, too often, these attempts follow a few common mistakes, as ministry authority Managing Relationships with Technology points out how we can lump ideas together with the best intentions and just get it wrong:
1. Don’t expect tech to do everything.
There’s a saying in business: Do things that don’t scale. You prioritize tech as a relationship tool so you can do things like sending handwritten cards to people on their special days or even calling them directly to check-in, etc. Put tech in the wrong role and everything gets much harder. There were certain things that tech did so well for us during the pandemic as the Body of Christ- such as live streaming services and virtual youth group game nights- but being able to draw encouraging chalk pictures on the driveways of our elderly members, or delivering them a hot meal and just checking in on them with a knock on the door and a wave through the window had to be done with love and care in person. Technology can’t do it all, but it can thrive in the right role.
2. Don’t assume it’s “set it and forget it.”
Technology is constantly evolving and changing. So is the information you put in. You can’t set up something like a ChMS one time; it’s an ongoing effort. But most churches get distracted by new events, seasonal opportunities, outreach projects, and more. The context demand for “new” overshadows the ongoing work of data.
Think of your tech updates like you do your address book with that one family member who moves all the time- so you are constantly checking in just to verify the current status, job, address, etc. You don’t want to spend time addressing Christmas or birthday cards for them to be sent back with the abrupt but informative “Return to Sender” and/or “No Longer At This Address” stamp and with no additional information. We are called to be world changers, which means we are transforming and this evolving also needs to include the tools we use to reach and engage people.
3. Don’t keep data current.
You can’t build relationships with only old information- a history of people is great. There are many of us who can recall when someone joined the church or was baptized, but there’s more to each personal story in the present day, or at least since COVID was introduced to the world. Imagine asking someone about their “new role” when the promotion had actually transpired six years ago. Honestly, they have probably had a new job or two since then. If that’s how the conversation goes, it’s inevitable that your relationship isn’t and won’t be strong with that person. Agreed?
The same is true in your church. If you talk to someone with old information, it accidentally communicates that you simply don’t care or don’t care enough. While this sentiment isn’t true, it appears to be and more importantly is digested as true. Be intentional to put the technology to work for you, and then be just as deliberate about keeping it up to date so your data is always fresh.
Technology should be a powerful tool for building stronger churches. It’s inexpensive, efficient, and extends the efforts of your team. When used well, it accelerates relationships. The previous blog, Managing Relationships With Technology – Connecting With People points us to how “technology helps us to continue the conversation and build relationships outside of the church walls.” But when it isn’t maintained and used correctly, it becomes one more burden impeding ministry and can even cause a lot of headaches as will be addressed in another blog.
Here’s a solid idea: Put technology in the role of relationship assistant. What would you expect of this assistant? How would you layout the role description and parameters for the job at hand? What about the guidance for the assistant- who is that person and/or committee? Technology is not a hands-off tool- it begs for attention and care. Use technology as a way to stay connected, engage deeply, and grow your churches.
I don’t know about you, but I genuinely appreciate it when I see that it’s a friend’s birthday or anniversary on a social media platform so that I can also send warm greetings, and then the next time I see them out and about, I can inquire about their festivities with confidence. That simple gesture shows that I care, remember, and want to invest more in our relationship. As a tool, technology can help us love each other earnestly (intently, by whatever means necessary) according to 1 Peter 4:8.
Relationships are critical to a healthy church. In larger churches, though, it’s hard to stay connected. Technology can accelerate the speed of lasting relationships. This new resource, Managing Relationships with Technology, demonstrates how technology is your best team member for managing more relationships. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!
Cary serves as ACS Technologies’ Vice President of Human Resources. He joined ACS Technologies in 2012 with more than 20 years of progressive and strategic Human Resources leadership experience from multinational corporations such as Roche Pharmaceuticals, Becton Dickinson, and Baxter Healthcare International.