We live in a society of instant feedback.
High speed internet, instant messenger, instant dinner, instant satisfaction, you get the point. Feedback is something that everyone is looking for. Businesses go to great lengths to hear what the customers are thinking, individuals go to great lengths to appear the way they want to look. The main reason for the need of instant feedback is because we cannot get inside of the brains of individuals and hear what they are thinking (well Mel Gibson can). Because of these limitations businesses have turned to different methods to hear about customers “experiences” with their products, service, or merchandise. For the most part I think they have done a pretty good job of listening to what the customer thinks and then what they want. Individuals look at mirrors and ask their friends if they have anything in their teeth to make sure they will not get any negative feedback.
One place that I think might be missing out on the opportunity to hear feedback is churches.
There are a couple obvious things that I do want to point out with my assumption. First, the church is not in the feedback business (or any business for that matter). I know that contradicts what I just said, but churches do not cater to the audience, they serve as a place of worship to a loving God. Stick with me and I will explain why I mean something different when I say churches are missing out on their chance to hear feedback. Second, I do think churches are constantly reforming and examining ways they can share the Gospel message, in no way was the above bolded statement meant to say that churches are not seeking to share the message of the gospel. Third, I do not think the consumer dictates the pace or direction of the church.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way
Churches need to listen to feedback to better connect with the congregation. Feedback is not telling the church how to do things better (even though a lot of people use feedback that way) it is about a conversation. People are providing a glimpse into their thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Being able to hear this type of free feedback can provide the church an opportunity to engage with the congregation and in conversation about what they are doing and how they are telling the story of the gospel.
This was something that I tweeted yesterday morning at Harvester Christian Church. Using foursquare and my iPhone I wanted to make sure that the band knew that things sounded awesome, and not only that I was letting others in the area around me know that the band was killing it with the music. Sure there are only a couple of people that check in on foursquare at church but what a great way to see who is there and hear what they are saying. Not only has foursquare provided a quick and easy way for churches to hear what others are saying, but tools such as facebook, twitter, and blogs are some ways churches have looked to connect.
Unfortunately, I think churches are missing out on key opportunities to connect with the community (not just the church community). Four years ago, if you were a band, you couldn’t just have a myspace page with your picture on there. You needed music, tour dates, and even fans to prove that you were a band. Today, you cannot have a twitter account and just advertise service times and events and call it a social media presence. We have seen that with Generation Y, social media is not a trend and in fact is a very viable way of communicating and connecting. More and more people are going online to connect and move those online connections into offline friendships.
The church might need to start listening to the feedback before they start to give feedback.
Do you have any examples of churches using technology to connect with the congregation?