Why You Should Let Your Audience Use Their Smartphones This Sunday
By: Yidan Wang
If it were possible to ban the usage of smartphones in your Sunday service, would you do it?
In our smartphone-dominated world, it's now harder than ever before to keep an audience’s attention. As a pastor, I'm sure it’s not uncommon to see your congregation stare at their phone for social media feeds, text messages, and emails in the middle of a sermon.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that smartphones and social media are rewiring our brain. Our attention span is rapidly declining. According to a Microsoft study, the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. We want to focus, but our mind wanders away. We feel the addictive impulse to check our phone for the latest updates.
Indeed, our phones are a distraction. And as a pastor, they compete for your audience’s attention and distract from the important message that you communicate.
With some smart strategies, however, smartphones could be a blessing rather than a curse to your Sunday service. They can keep attention, encourage participation and help your audience remember and retain your message better. Here are 4 strategies to use this weekend.
1. Real-time Audience Polling
With a real-time audience polling tool, getting instant responses from your audience is a simple click away. The phones become a voting device, a real-time feedback collector, and a channel where the congregation can make its voice heard.
Project your question onto the screen, then ask your audience to text their response to a number. Their responses will be collected anonymously and visualized on the screen as they come in. What a great way to engage with your audience!
Asking questions is a great way to keep your audience active and to show that you care about their opinions. Everyone has a voice and they want to be heard. Real-time audience polling has the ability to engage and excite your congregation with your message.
2. Social Media Campaign
Another way to use smartphones to engage with the congregation is through social media campaigns. Below are just a few options for your campaign:
- Come up with a hashtag for your message or event and ask your audience to tweet about it.
- Create a Twitter Moment and highlight tweets from your audience.
- Live stream your message on Facebook and answer questions from the online community.
- Hold a social media contest with giveaways.
There are so many creative ways to use social media to enhance your audience’s Sunday experience.
When your audience is more connected with your church community, they are more likely to be engaged in Sunday service and apply what they learned. After all, the ultimate goal of the Sunday service is not to make the entire congregation listen, but to strengthen their faith and encourage their walk with God.
3. Live Social Media Wall
To make the social media campaign work even better, you can use some tools to display live social media feed (tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos) on your screens. Having a live social media wall can be a great way to foster a sense of community and participation.
More than merely displaying contents, many of these tools come with additional features to add more interactivity to your message. They also provide in-depth analysis on user engagement, providing insights into your audience to improve your next message.
4. Mobile Giving
One of privileges of being a Christian is the ability to give to the church and contribute to God’s work financially. It’s a spiritual discipline to practice obedience and trust in God’s provisions.
We are slowly moving towards a cash-less society, and maybe even a card-less society in the near future, where all financial transactions happen through mobile or wearable devices.
Enabling mobile giving can encourage more members to give their offerings and participate in the stewardship of the church’s financial health. It’s also an indicator that your church stays relevant in the rapidly-changing world. With mobile giving, church members can make an one-time or recurrent payment. They can also give to other fundraising campaigns with a simple click of a button. You might check out eChurch, powered by Pushpay to enable mobile giving for your church.
While these technologies are cool and easy to implement, the not so tech-savvy members of your audience may find it hard to adapt, and not all members of your congregation are a fan of social media. Keep them in mind and provide for a way for them to participate as well. Bear in mind, also, these strategies are not replacement for engaging and truthful contents and effective communication skills.
What is your church doing to keep your audience engaged in Sunday message?