In a survey that I put out a few days ago, I invited respondents to submit any questions they have about technology and mission. The majority of these respondents, like you, are already sold on using technology for mission. Many of them asked the question that I hear again and again “How can we get [fill in the blank] to see the importance of having a web presence, (using email or a shared calendar or social media or whatever)? As we have learned from experience, it is nearly impossible to get anyone to do something they don’t want to do. Technology is no exception.
We are not in the business of selling technology. We are in the “business” of building the kingdom of God on earth, loving God and neighbor, and practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Let’s keep our focus there. Let’s speak of technology after we have clearly established that our goal is to be more effective and impactful in our ministry. In every case be as specific as possible. For example, we can get the word about a program, service or resource to more people, more quickly if we do an email broadcast, or post it on Twitter, Facebook, or our Homepage. That means that we need to have an email broadcast system and email addresses, have a website that can be updated, and have profiles with followers on Twitter and Facebook. We do not want to have a Facebook page just to have a Facebook page. We want to update people on our programs, events, resources, etc. quickly. We can do that on Facebook. Just type the info and click “Share”.
We have come a long way in using technology. Many of us began using it to carry out our tasks more efficiently and more creatively. (Do you remember your first flier or newsletter done on the computer or the first database you set up?) Now technology allows us to focus on the people we serve and the world we want to impact in a more dynamic way. It also provides us with many tools and resources to be more effective and to have greater impact. That’s what we need to be talking about when we talk about technology.
When we look at our websites, the question is not—have we told visitors what we want them to know, but rather have we given the visitors what they want to know. This requires us to ask who are the visitors and what do they need. The same holds true for every new application we find. The clearer we are about the goal we are trying to accomplish in using it, the easier it will be for others to get onboard. The first question is not about which technology to use. The first question is how it can help us to serve our people better. Can it make our services and expertise more accessible to them? Can it make transactions like registration and getting directions, more convenient for them? Can it help us to bring the teachings of the Church to more people? Can it help us bring more people to Christ? If the mission is always the focus of our conversations about technology, we will have greater success in using it ourselves and in helping others to use it as well.
The other way we can help our superiors, co-workers and constituencies think more positively about using the new technologies is to be good models. We need to keep updating ourselves and using the appropriate technologies to advance the mission of the Church in every way we can. I will write more about this topic in future posts.
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