ARTICLE: Church Leadership in a Digital Age

February 26, 2019 Joel Guthrie

You’ve been bombarded over the past ten years with opinions about technology being scary. It’s the worst, it’s the greatest, you need it, you don’t need it, or something like "it’s taking over".  It can be tricky to not only keep track of all the technological advancements but how it impacts you as a church leader.  It can feel like you are one step behind when trying to implement new technologies at your church.


You live in the greatest time for mass communication that we have ever seen. You have direct access to every person in the US via multiple outlets and multiple devices.  There are so many ways to reach and better understand more people now than ever. Taking advantage of this opportunity is crucial to lock in growth for 2019. You no longer need a web developer to build a modern website and you no longer need to track your church members via Microsoft Excel! Imagine knowing the exact demographic breakdown of your church or having a live feed of feedback and topics to cover in your sermons! You spend an hour a week guiding, educating, and leading your church. Why not utilize 167 hours left in the week to engage your community.


It seems every day there is a new platform your church “needs.” How do you know where to start.? What should you ignore and what should you utilize?  As a pastor, you must continually think about “how do we use these platforms to reach new people, nurture existing members, and inspire service.” You used to be able to rely on people showing up every week on Sunday and more than not, also be plugged into some sort of mid-week group.  Now stats show that the average churchgoer attends church 3 out of every 8 Sundays.  Which points to the fact that you now more than ever need to embrace the digital age!


In our 2019 Church Tech Checklist, we provide a list to analyze where your church is at.  Depending on the size and age of your church different technologies are more important than others. Also, the way you approach each platform.  All the platforms allow you to communicate, understand, and serve your congregation better than ever. Starting by analyzing where your church is at, allows you to understand what could be missing from your approach for 2019. 


After you have analyzed where your church is at, its time is to come up with a strategy. Every pastor is different, but here are a couple of tips to get the ball rolling. 

First, use social media as a place to have a conversation. Which social media platform you focus on first depends on the demographics of your church. Remember, social media is not a megaphone. It’s a place to have a two-way conversation with your community. 

Practical Conversation Starters:

  • Ask your congregation what new fall programs they would like to see at the church. Use the responses to actually drive your calendar priorities.
  • Share a moment with your congregation during the week when you were working on this week's sermon
  • Follow-up on last week’s sermon by sharing additional challenges or key points to think about 

By asking questions and being transparent you will encourage your congregation to engage in community online, in between Sundays. 

Second, Church Management solutions are the backbone of your church. As a pastor utilizing data to better understand your congregations’ needs. Taking advantage of the advanced features a modern church management solution has to offer is crucial. Having a church management platform that can populate reports for demographic or geographic breakdowns is a game changer. This allows you to know where your congregation is in life and where growth is headed. 

Practical Examples:

  • You notice the number of middle school and high school age kids has tripled over the past year. Evaluate whether you need to invest more in your youth program. Maybe plan a summer/winter camp.
  • Leadership is in conversation to launch a satellite campus. Having the geographic breakdown of where your congregation lives help you make a far more accurate decision on where to put the new campus. 

Technology is the greatest tool to get your message out there and continually engage your community. Check out our 2019 Church Tech Checklist to learn even more about how to utilize these tools to grow your church in 2019!

About the Author

Joel Guthrie

Joel Guthrie is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Blackbaud and the host of The Church Engagement Podcast. He grew up in the church and his family helped start a church in Colorado Springs. Since then, he has been on staff as a worship leader and youth leader at a church in Bellevue, WA. He has been working in marketing in the tech space for his entire career, servicing large tech companies such as Microsoft and Amazon. He is passionate about helping the church apply modern technology to grow and engage their communities!

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