Mobile - Take the ministry to the people

As I was reading Social Media Today’s article on “How Brands are using M-Commerce”, I started to wonder how ministries and churches could use M-Commerce.  M-Commerce, short for Mobile Commerce, is the process of doing business (financial or otherwise) via mobile devices.  Mobile devices are the future of technology and my humble opinion.  Since mobile devices are so important to technology and ministry, they play an important role in the iChurch Method.

The Ichurch Method’s task can be broken down into one simple statement, “take the ministry to the people”.  That statement can be fulfilled with the numerous technological solutions that are available today whether it be via traditional computer or mobile device (smart phone or tablet).  If ministries are to effectively take ministry to the people, then they need to embrace mobile devices and develop mobile strategies.  

According to the article at Social Media Today, the top three ways companies use M-commerce are (1) Ensuring a mobile-friendly website, (2) Engaging and building loyalty via mobile and (3) Online shopping. These three ways are a great strategy that ministries can utilize as well, let’s look at this a little more in depth.

Ensuring a mobile-friendly website - When the church creates a website, normally the purpose is to put information about the church up so that people can access it online.  Service times, location and a bio on the pastor are the usual parts of a small church website.  There’s no consideration whether the website is mobile friendly because most church leadership only surfs the web from their computer so they assume that all their online users will do the same.  That single minded perspective greatly inhibits how the ministry can advance online.  With over 4 billion (and growing) mobile devices worldwide and numerous people ranging from teenager to senior citizen carrying smart phones, it would only benefit the ministry to have a mobile enabled website that anyone can access from anywhere on any device, mobile or computer.  

Engaging and building loyalty - With the abundance of mobile devices, and so many people using them, they are a great way to stay engaged with your online users.  Whether it’s mobile social media websites such as facebook, twitter and foursquare, you can engage and interact with your online users via mobile devices.  In addition to mobile social media, text messages are a great way to engage mobile users.  When you develop your social media strategy or text messaging strategy, setup people within your ministry that are able to respond quickly from their mobile devices since people will be able to interact with you quickly via mobile devices.

Online shopping and donations - Quite a few churches offer online stores and products for their members.  Again, this is normally created based on someone accessing the online store from their laptop or desktop computer.  Additionally, online donations are an offering of churches and the process is also usually created for a laptop or desktop experience.  While this a good initial approach, if there is no mobile shopping and mobile donation strategy in place, the ministry is inhibiting how people can support the ministry financially.  Yes, there will be numerous people that will donate from their laptop or desktop, but there will also be people, usually techies, younger people, or supporters from countries that use mobile more that are comfortable using their mobile devices for commerce.  This audience should not be excluded because it will go from the exception to the norm.

Overall, any strategy for a ministry that wants to continue to reach the masses into the future will need to consider mobile because it is the future of technology.