How is Mobile Technology Changing the church and the Non-Profit Sector?

The title of this post is taken from a question posed over at ChurchDrop a while ago (along with an iPhone giveaway – great way of generating comments on the subject!) and I left a comment there so good I thought I’d repost it here [tongue in cheek] and add to it.  Actually, there’s a lot of great comments over at the original post, feel free to add to the conversation there, or here!  So here’s what I wrote:

Mobile technology is changing the church and non-profit sector in the following ways:

1. Real-time communication

People react quicker to what they are experiencing. (especially applicable to multi-site discussions -> see tony morgan’s observations) This also applies to the reporting of people on the field (i.e. missionaries, short term missions trips etc). It can be easier to communicate via mobile than any other technology from a user standpoint and this means that the message gets out and is widely distributed in a matter of seconds rather than minutes or days.  Sometimes whether we want it to or not.

Therefore, the real-time nature of mobile communication means that there must be an even greater awareness on the part of the church or non-profit to what message they are communicating in everything they say and do (even the unintended messages must be considered).  It has become (or will become depending on your context) increasingly difficult to change your message or modify it before it goes “public” because mobile makes everything public.

2. HOW things get communicated.

With the increasing penetration of mobile devices consideration needs to be given to how churches and non-profits communicate in ways that fully capitalize on the way people use those devices. In my opinion,  any church/non-profit that DOESN’T take this into consideration is at risk of losing a valuable avenue of communication for their constituency (granted this does depend on the particular penetration of mobile technology in the reach of the organization).  For much of the non-western world mobile IS the way to communicate.  North America is starting to catch up and the advent of smartphones means that more and more people are connected to the online grid 24/7.  Which brings me to the next point…

3. Social Media use.

In my eyes you can’t talk about mobile technology without including social media in the discussion (I think the rise of social media and mobile are connected).  It is really social media that has made mobile go from a tool used to connect with a few trusted friends and family to being a portal to online community.  The question then is what is the church or non-profit doing to connect and engage with this online-community?

4. Giving

This has only in the past year started to gain traction but the Haiti earthquake has a lot to teach on the ability of mobile technology to facilitate a quick and legitimate way of raising funds.  Check out a few articles on this:

The day is already here where churches can make it possible for congregation members to give via mobile during the service.  There are already companies offering that ability to churches (unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any that offer this service in Canada – we always seem to be a bit behind here up North).  I suspect that this will be one of the major ways in which mobile technology affects the church an non-profit sector.

So what do you think?  Are there any other ways you think we will see the church and non-profits affected by this tech?  Feel free to post your thoughts below.

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