2018 is nearly gone and to prepare properly for 2019, you have to know where you’re going. What does next year hold for technology and churches?
In today’s episode, we’re giving you predictions for 2019 to get ready for PLUS reviewing our predictions from last year.
Recapping Our 2018 Predictions
- Email would rise in importance – CORRECT!
- According to Adobe Consumer Email Report, personal email usage went up by 19% in 2018. Open rates are down by 3%, but the fact that people are spending more time in their inbox means the attention is still growing there.
- Churches will move more to a one-on-one communication – MEH…
- We predicted churches will move more towards private messaging, but no reports that we could find specifically answer this question. Anecdotally, we don’t see a large boost in personal messaging in the church space. Some individual churches (like Dave’s) are using basic bots to welcome people, but not many are using actual bots with logic trees. So church, we’re still behind…let’s step it up!
- People will use social media with more purpose – TECHNICALLY CORRECT
- Facebook started the year with a big algorithm change, so they kinda did this for us. They saw the writing on the wall like we did, and they decided to intercept how people were using Facebook themselves. While we saw more people moving away from mass communication and limiting friends and interactions, Facebook helped move everyone towards this “tribe” mentality with their algorithm change. So yeah, we were right on the outcome, but Facebook was the one that made it happen, not the people.
- Facebook will become more pay-to-play – YUP!
- Everyone knew this was coming, so don’t give us too much credit for this. Facebook ad costs went up by 70%. It’s still cheaper than direct mail and billboards, so don’t run away just yet.
- 360 Video Will Come Into Its Own – NAH…
- In 2018 we saw a lot of testing and experimenting, but 360 video still is not a mainstay. There are some folks using it, but it’s not mainstream yet, especially in churches.
- Net Neutrality will have no effect – RIGHTO!
- Overall a lot of people were freaking out about the repeal of net neutrality, but nothing dire happened in 2018. There were some specific cases of negative effects, but nothing on a national level.
- Smart Assistants Will Continue To Grow – YUPPERS!
- 18% of consumers own a smart speaker with ¾ of them owning for less than a year (which means they bought one this year). So yeah, smart assistants are only on the up-and-up. Churches haven’t bought into smart assistant integration, but more people are embracing the technology, so let’s get on board guys!
Moving Into 2019
Will we be as right about 2019 as we were in 2018?
Only one way to find out…
5G Will Finally Start To Make A Difference For The Internet
5G is the next step in cellular wireless transmission. Right now we use 4G LTE, and next we’ll use 5G.
This new wireless technology will roll out to the big cities first. It’s faster, lower latency, and can carry larger loads of bandwidth at once.
In short, 5G will be just as good as your home cable connection.
So why is this a big deal?
5G is easier to deploy, so the internet service provider industry will be disrupted.
While more than 100 million Americans have only 1 cable internet provider, all a mobile carrier has to do is put a 5G cell tower in your neighborhood and now you have high-speed competition.
Instead of connecting your modem to a cable line, you can buy a 5G modem and connect to the nearby tower.
More competition is going to be GREAT for us the consumers. Even the rumor of competition will drop prices and increase speeds.
With the 5G rollout your church will finally be able to afford faster internet speeds to live stream and provide guest wifi at the same time.
Again, this will be limited to the big cities in 2019, but just like LTE did, 5G will deploy nationwide in the future.
Church’s Digital Footprints Will Continue To Grow
We’ll not only see live streaming used for services, but also for the weekly, informative content.
More churches will adopt the selfie mode of streaming and pastors will get more comfortable sharing away from the pulpit.
Amazon Will Continue To Dominate The U.S. And The World
But 2019 will see no loss of steam for Amazon. In fact, Amazon moving their second HQ next to Washington will give them more political clout to shape how commerce works in America.
What does this mean for your church?
The delivery-to-me culture is here.
So many people are Christmas shopping online almost exclusively, and even Amazon is opening stores where you don’t have to talk to anyone.
The culture is shifting, so be careful with how you position your church.
Church is a community and cannot be delivered to the doorstep in a box.
But people will want to see more about you and your community before stepping through the doors.
So you can’t expect to hide everything behind 4 walls and say, “come to me please.” The culture expects you to cater to them, and that’s not entirely a bad thing.
Make yourself available digitally. Don’t be the digital Amish. A few churches may be able to survive like that, but the odds are against you on that.
Personalization Will Get A Lot Easier
Personalization is the practice of communicating to people using details you know about them. For example, beginning an email with someone’s name, sending a Facebook message when a cart is left without purchase, stuff like that.
2019 is going to bring an easier way to not only personalize your messages and audience, but also across any platform. Instead of customizing an ad on Facebook and trying to track it through there, we’re hoping for a company that can do it all for you, Facebook ads, Adwords, banners, mailers, everything.
We want to see someone make it easy for you to say, “here is our event, here is who we want to come, bring in the RSVP’s please.”
And along the same lines, we think Facebook will make their intimidating ad platform even easier to personalize along with their chatbots.
In 2019, it will become easier for churches to utilize big data.
More Churches Will Learn The Need To Increase Interaction And Growth In Their Digital Communities
Believe it or not, some churches don’t see digital followers as real people. These are live streamers, Facebook followers, YouTube subscribers, Podcast listeners, etc.
These people are skipped in attendance and metrics.
But digital consumers are real people, real stories, and real lives. And while we may not like the culture of digital interaction, the fact is it’s here now.
In 2019, churches will finally see the need to engage and interact with those who physically are not in attendance.
More Churches Will See The Need To Reach Out To The Counterculture More
When we say counterculture, we’re really talking about the things we don’t normally think about in church.
A perfect example is gamers…
We interviewed a Pastor who live streams on Twitch and formed a digital church on the platform. This is counter-culture. He’s reaching out to the people with specific wants and needs that aren’t being met by churches in their area.
And just like that, more churches will cross the threshold and start meeting people where they are, even if it’s not typical to what we’ve done before.
In 2019, more digital mission fields will crop up to reach certain people that aren’t inherently looking for a church or spiritual answers.
2019 is right around the corner. Planning for the year starts now.
Will you keep an eye on 5G technology to save you money? Will you look at growing your interaction and engagement with your online followers?
Look at the above predictions and pick one to focus on this upcoming year.
What do you think will happen in 2019? Leave your own prediction in the comments below!