By Jayson D. Bradley
The writing’s on the wall, and churches need to pay close attention. Mobile devices are here to stay — and they’re changing the world.
It’s time for your ministry to take them seriously.
If you had an iPhone in 2007, you were the proud owner of both a luxury item and a status symbol. But a lot has changed in the last decade.
By 2011, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was telling tech companies to put their best people on mobile. Why? Because it was obvious that mobile computing was going to change the world — and he was right.
The state of mobile
Recent statistics have shed an interesting light on smartphone use:
• More than 75% of Americans own a smartphone. That percentage has more than doubled since 2011.
• The average time spent on a mobile device each day is about three hours and 15 minutes.
• More than half of all internet use is coming from mobile devices.
• Consider this: 87% of millennials say that their smartphones never leaves their sides, and 46% of all users say that they couldn’t live without their smartphone.
• Smartphone pervasiveness is a worldwide phenomenon. It’s currently projected that by 2020, there will be 6.1 billion smartphones in use globally, and they’ll finally outnumber fixed land lines.
Most people in your church have a mobile device and use it constantly — and the ways they use it grow daily.
Mobile technology touches everything
It would be difficult to come up with an industry that hasn’t been affected by mobile technology. Sixty percent of millennials believe that within five years, we’ll be doing everything on our phones.
Just think about the things that people are currently using their phones to do:
• 94% of users use their phones to look up local information
• 80% of users have used their phones to look up reviews and compare prices while in a physical store
• 75% of millennials use a mobile banking app for deposits, paying bills, and money transfers
• 64% of users use their phones to look up health information
• 54% of emails are opened on mobile devices
• 29% of users get their news on their phones
• By 2020, orders placed on smartphones are expected to exceed 10% of all fast food restaurant sales.
Churches: you can’t ignore mobile
There’s still a hesitancy on the part of some churches to take smartphones seriously. This might be because catering to smartphone users feels faddish, or you might even believe that you’re enabling an indulgence.
It’s important to understand that this isn’t just a trend. It’s a cultural change that is only growing in significance. Most people in your church have a mobile device and use it constantly — and the ways they use it grow daily.
A church app is a good place to start
Mobile users are spending 85% of their time using native applications. They would prefer not to use their phone’s mobile browser if they don’t have to.
This means that if all your online content only exists on your website, it’s not getting the engagement you’re hoping for. If people need to look up your website to watch your sermons, make donations, schedule events, or read your blog, they probably won’t.
If you want to get people more involved and tuned in, it’s time to start considering your own church app. Church members are much more likely to watch sermons they missed, check prayer requests, and give generously when they can simply do so from your app.
The world has gone mobile. Your church should, too.
Jayson D. Bradley is a writer and pastor in Bellingham, Wash. He’s a regular contributor to Relevant Magazine, and his blog, JaysonDBradley.com, has been voted one of the 25 Christian blogs you should be reading.