Technology Is Changing Ministry Communication

by Terry Wilhite

Recently I shared these Top 10 Ways Technology Is Changing Writers and Writing at the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, Ala. If you're in Christian ministry, chances are that your communication starts with the written word. That's the reason that I want to pass along what are, in my opinion, the prevailing trends when it comes to writing and ministry.

10. Technology has cut out the need for a middleman. It's not only happened with car insurance, but the middleman is disappearing in the writing (and advertising) business also. No longer do you have to find an agent who then haggles with a publisher. You can "cut to the chase," write your treatise, and go straight to your target audience via the Net. No longer do advertisers even have to advertise on-line or in print publications but they simply pay to have a link to their Websites show up on search sites like Google, when certain key words are entered.

9. Technology has changed our role from writer to content provider. As the old saying goes, "content is king." If you think of yourself as just a writer, you're not thinking of yourself nearly as valuably as you should be. What's the difference between text and content? Nothing. The on-line market is always craving good content-not just good writing.

8. Technology has given us the ability to be authorities, not just "writers." As you build a relationship with your audience, over time, you become a defacto expert on a subject. As secular writer Anthony Robbins has said, if you spend more time each day on a particular subject than the people around you, you will be perceived as an expert on that subject in record time.

7. Technology has demanded diversification into new media such as blogging and podcasting. Everything we do as Christian communicators should be based on the fact that we are in the relationship business. With today's technology we can appeal to varied audiences, not just those who prefer the written word. If you don't know anything about podcasting and blogging, my advice is to run to the nearest Barnes and Noble and get a copy of Blogging for Dummies and Podcasting for Dummies.

6. Technology has put enormous financial pressure on print publications to be profitable. For example, major publications like Time and Newsweek have fewer pages than ever. Newsprint (paper) has skyrocketed and on-line advertising has taken a huge whack out of advertising profits, as the popularity of on-line magazines and search engine advertising continue to soar. As a result, editors of paper publications are extremely picky when it comes to choosing content.

5. Technology has changed our writing style to one that requires scanable text and a knowledge of how Internet-based search engines work. You should know how to enter meta data for a Website. Meta data includes the keywords picked up by search "spiders" that scour the Internet and log those words and phrases into popular search engines like Google. Let me point out, most likely the masses aren't interested in reading the manuscript for a thirty minute sermon, but valuable text, broken into short chunks with keywords in the lead paragraphs, can allow your text to show up on Web searches and be read!

4. Technology has devalued our talents, based on the law of supply and demand. Simply, there are more writers (and would-be writers) and content providers than ever before. Of course, in ministry, making money is not our goal. But it's very difficult for writers who write for a living to make money these days because the supply of writers exceeds the demand.

3. Technology has allowed for collaborative partnerships internationally. Currently I have friends in both the United Kingdom and Australia with whom I'm collaborating on ministry projects. Heretofore what would have been the chances of a small-town guy like me joining forces with people around the world in ministry?

2. Technology has offered us an unprecedented opportunity to go "mainstream" with our "straight and narrow" message. People like Steve Webb with the LifeSpring Podcast (www.lifespringpodcast.com) have figured out how to set up shop in the mainstream marketplace, yet be different at the crossroads of culture. Transformation, not isolationism, is our goal.

1. Technology has offered us the opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission. I don't know about you, but that gives me "goose bumps" when I think about that. I still believe that the Great Commission will be fulfilled by one person telling another about Jesus, but who's to say that can't be done electronically? In fact, in my opinion, that's the way it will happen.

Terry Wilhite is a music and multi-media specialist. He welcomes your article ideas and feedback. Contact him at pastors@ccmag.com

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