Our broadcast world is quickly giving way to an interactive world. One-way broadcasting is being replaced with multi-way conversations. People no longer passively consume media, they interact with it. They talk back, through Twitter, Facebook, text messages and more.
Widespread events are especially prone to this kind of treatment, from last night’s State of the Union to the upcoming Super Bowl, and anything that’s experienced by a large group, whether it’s national elections or natural disasters, or something closer to a home like a blizzard or local conference. Hashtags spring up on Twitter. Facebook has started collecting statuses about a popular topic.
How will your church service become more interactive?
I think this is a crucial question for pastors, because as this interactive approach becomes more common place, people will do it whether you encourage it or not. In some churches people are already tweeting about the sermon or having their own back channel discussion about it.
Churches can either encourage this conversation and shepherd it into something useful and productive. Or they can be left in the dust, once again seen as hopelessly out of date.
Encouraging interactivity can be scary. It means acknowledging that the pastor isn’t the only source of wisdom in the church. It means allowing for disagreements (and agreeing to disagree). But it can also be amazing as the body taps into the collective wisdom of the crowd.
A few ways your church service can be more interactive:
- Create a space to continue conversations about the sermon. Maybe it’s an online discussion board or a blog post with comments or even a discussion group that meets for coffee after the service. If you really want to get interactive, add a ‘talk back’ portion of the sermon where you actually discuss the sermon. Media Social might be another platform to allow for this conversation.
- Ask questions. Encouraging conversation is easier when you ask questions. A pastor could even include them in the sermon to stimulate ideas and push people to those spaces for conversation.
- Invite people into the sermon. A pastor could give a preview of the upcoming sermon, maybe sharing the passage being preached on or pointing to some research. There’s likely material a pastor goes over in preparing a sermon that isn’t used, but still might be of interest to the congregations (it’s like bonus material on a DVD!). A pastor could make that material available ahead of time and ask for people’s thoughts. Maybe there’s a question that’s troubling the pastor and they could ask for input.
- Interactivity shouldn’t be limited to the sermon. The age old congregational testimony is a standby for a reason. It’s a powerful way to show what God is doing in your church. Encourage the same kind of discussion as you would for a sermon. After the testimony, encourage your congregation to share their own stories is another forum (again, online or after the service).
- One church recently encouraged their congregation to Instagram the church service, taking pictures at church and posting them online. That’s a powerful way to encourage interaction and help your congregation spread the word about church.
How else can today’s church service become more interactive?