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This past fall, the iPhone X landed in the market, marking a decade since Apple launched the first iPhone. Ten years on, people are increasingly attached to (and willing to spend a lot of money on) their mobile phones. It’s an understatement to say that mobile technology has transformed our world. People use mobile apps to manage nearly every aspect of their lives—finding new friends, buying concert tickets, or transferring money between their bank accounts.
Our modern life will continue to be shaped by advances in mobile technology, and it’s also evolving how the church communicates and carries out discipleship. Therefore, it’s crucial that church leaders stay on top of industry trends.
The following are a few ways the use of mobile technology is changing how we live, and how the church can adapt to meet these new realities:

1. People are extremely attached to their phones, and many use them as their primary tool to access the Internet.

In a survey of mobile users, Flurry Analytics found that 77% of respondents used the word “love” to describe their devices. Many church leaders would probably find that statistic alarming, and we wouldn’t blame you. But it’s the way the world is headed. Flurry also found that 1 out of every 5 Internet users reported being “mobile dominant,” meaning their mobile device is the preferred mechanism for accessing the Internet. They project this cohort to be 50% by 2020.

The takeaway for churches? Make sure all your communication channels—from your emails to your registration forms—are optimized for mobile use.

2. People spend an average of 5 hours a day on their mobile devices.

They are also getting an increasing share of their total media consumption via smartphones, tablets, and “phablets,” tablet/phone hybrids. When looking at year over year trends, all other mediums (TV, Radio, Print, Desktop Internet) are decreasing compared to media delivered in a mobile environment (source).

Like it or not, people now prefer to consume media via mobile streaming. If your church doesn’t provide a way for members and guests to access your messages via mobile, you are falling behind.

3. Most people spend time in apps, not in a mobile browser.

While many churches have now configured their websites to be mobile-responsive, this is not enough. Individuals spend only 8% of their mobile time within browsers, and the majority within apps. Furthermore, 50% of that time is spent in social and entertainment apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube, and other media-streaming platforms (source).

Given these facts, it goes without saying that your church should have a presence on social media and on streaming platforms like Facebook LIVE, YouTube, and Vimeo. Furthermore, your church might consider offering your members an app where they can access your church’s media, register for events, update their contact information, and manage just about every part of their engagement with your church. If you haven’t yet invested in an app for your church, choose carefully. People want to download one app for your church, not several. We’ve written previously about what to look for in a church app here.

4. Attention spans are more fractured than ever.

Multitasking has become the norm, with 77% of people using mobile devices while also watching TV. A way to account for this is to make your church’s written content skimmable. Emails and blog posts composed in a list format are easier for people to digest at a glance. Consider formatting your communications in such a way that people can quickly glean the most important takeaways without having to read too carefully. And keep word count to a minimum whenever possible.

5. Mobile video is gaining priority.

50% of mobile data traffic comes from streaming video. Churches that don’t already stream their sermon audio and video via a mobile app should strongly considering investing in this technology in 2018. Additionally, if your mobile app offers a two-way sync with your church management system (like the TouchPoint mobile app does), you can track which sermons get the most views. This way, you learn which topics resonate most with your members.

This isn’t to say that we as church leaders should simply “give the people what they want,” but being aware of what content they consume gives you insights into the postures of their heart. Knowing what concerns your members the most—what keeps them up at night—will help you better serve and disciple them.
The church has a long history of using new communication tactics to share the Gospel and keep Jesus at the forefront of believer’s minds. The trends in mobile technology indicate that people want to be communicated with frequently and immediately, and in the context of discipleship that’s encouraging.
If you want to learn more about how TouchPoint can connect your church with the help of mobile technology, sign up for a demo of TouchPoint Software today!

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