Good communication is key to any relationship. As church leaders, you understand this better than most. It’s no easy task making sure your congregation is getting the information they need to be prepared for upcoming sermons, events, and trips. Meanwhile, new visitors need to feel welcomed and understand the basic flow of a Sunday morning at your church. When does youth group start? Where should people deposit their canned items for the church’s food drive? How much progress has the church made with its building fund? And these are just a few of the things you are responsible to oversee, in addition to planning and delivering sermons. Perhaps your church has multiple pastors and staff members to assist with different aspects of your ministry. How can you ensure that information from each team is being communicated clearly to all of your members?
Bulletins are great for delivering announcements and reminders, but they can often be incomplete and printing costs can be high. One solution that many churches have found to improve communication is digital signage.
So What is Digital Signage, Anyway?
Digital signage systems provide businesses, schools, entertainment venues, churches, etc. with an alternative to print communications to reach their customers, students, employees, and congregations. Also known as video messaging systems or TV messaging systems, digital signage can disseminate a consistent message to a large number of viewers. These systems consist of three elements: hardware (LED or LCD displays, mounts, players, and enclosures), software (a component for content management and a component for playback), and content (what you see on the screen). They can be comprised of one display screen or hundreds. The content being displayed is customizable to fit whatever function is needed for a particular venue. You can use the signs to show one static image, or you can rotate among many images, incorporating music and video as well.
Is Your Church Ready for Digital Signage?
So how do you know if your church is ready for digital signage? Start by looking at your church’s growth. This can refer to a single service or location that is seeing an increase in regular attendance or a church that is branching out and establishing satellite locations. Church growth is a wonderful thing, but it can make effective communication more difficult to maintain. Not only do you have more people who need to receive information, but you have more information to deliver as the number of Bible studies, small groups, missions trips, and other events increase to accommodate the church’s growing attendance. You may also reach a point where it’s time to add another service—whether it is on a Sunday or a different day of the week. Or perhaps your congregation has grown so much that it requires an addition, maybe an entirely new building. These construction projects can cause frustration among regular attendees and can lead to confusion for new visitors who are not familiar with the building’s layout.
Of course growth is not the only thing to consider when evaluating whether or not digital signage could benefit your congregation. The technology addresses poor communication in general, regardless of church size. Any time your congregation is experiencing a prolonged breakdown in communication is a good time to evaluate what is causing the breakdown and determine if digital signage could help the situation. In some cases it will help streamline information and enable your church’s activities and organizations to run more smoothly. An example of this would be if things consistently fall through the cracks during the planning process of your church’s events.
At other times, digital signage will not be capable of alleviating the pain point causing a communication breakdown. For example, if there has been a recent change in Sunday School volunteers at your church, there will likely be a few hiccups in organization and communication. This situation would improve as the new volunteers have a chance to settle into their new roles, so implementing a digital signage system would not be necessary. It’s important to determine the primary causes of any ongoing communication problems when deciding if you want to utilize digital signage technology.
How Can Digital Signage Improve Your Church’s Communication?
Now that we have looked at the problem, it’s time to talk about how digital signage can help ease the pain of communication issues in churches.
Announcements and Reminders
The weekly bulletin. That compact informational pamphlet we are all familiar with. For years, printed bulletins have served as the primary method of message dissemination on Sunday mornings. But they are not always cost effective, nor are they considered to be “green.” Even reusing bulletins for multiple services, or recycling them may do little to affect your bottom line. Digital signage also offers more efficiency than traditional printed bulletins. Updating a slide takes place in real time, and there is no fee associated with content additions like there is with bulletins. So if there is a last minute schedule change in the church’s softball league or a change in location for the women’s luncheon, your content can be updated immediately at no cost and without causing confusion.
Does your congregation hold a lot of activities for the community? Perhaps you host family movie nights in your all-purpose room, or you volunteer your gymnasium for a community basketball league. Events like these will bring a lot of new faces into your building, and visitors likely don’t know the floor plan of your church. Wayfinding is one of the most widely used features of digital signage. It can be a great time and resource saver to have directional slides ready for the weekly teen dodge ball tournament rather than printing paper signs and taping them all over the building. Digital signage enables people to easily navigate a new space, contributing more ease to the visitor’s experience.
I encountered this situation first-hand this winter when attending my cousin’s basketball game. She participates in our local Upwards basketball league, and their team was assigned to a new gymnasium located in a large church downtown. I had never been to this church before and had no idea where to find the gym prior to entering the building. But as soon as I stepped inside, there was a flat screen display showing a simple layout of the facility. When the slide transitioned, I saw an arrow pointing to my left. The accompanying message explained that the gym could be found by going up the staircase to my left. At the top of the stairs I saw another sign directing me to turn right, and viola! I was at the gym, no problem.
Digital signage can also provide instructions for first-time visitors coming to your building for a community outreach event. A schedule of the day’s activities, event descriptions, and important contact information can all be displayed throughout your facility to help everything run smoothly. Of course, this information could be provided with a physical program as well, but again, digital technology allows for real-time updates and offers long-term cost savings.
I’ll be the first person to agree that a worship service should not be about the technology used. Please do not misunderstand me and think I am discussing the benefits of technology as though it is absolutely vital to a healthy church. That is not how I feel at all. When it comes to worship, I am a firm believer that it is a person’s heart that matters—not the level of their technology. Still, if you are seeking ways of facilitating worship by minimizing communication breakdowns, digital signage may be something worth considering.
A digital signage system enables you to incorporate video clips and photos into your service. This is especially handy for presentations by missionaries, VBS leaders, and the like. You can also use a digital signage system to display worship lyrics, sermon outlines, and scripture verses. If your church ever requires an overflow room, digital signage is a convenient way to broadcast your service to these additional attendees.
A digital signage system allows you to incorporate images, videos, and sound into your communications. This can add a whole new level of engagement for your audience, capturing attention and encouraging action. Every summer growing up, my family attended a weeklong church camp where congregations within our denomination would attend. This annual camp meeting still continues, but I have seen a significant drop in attendance over the last eight to ten years. The individual churches that participate are responsible for encouraging members to attend the camp. And if my congregation is any indicator of how the others market this trip, it’s fair to say their announcements lack a certain luster — not the kind that are fancy and over the top, but the kind of luster that brings an engaging element to the event. It’s hard for people to imagine themselves at the camp meeting without seeing anyone else enjoying the many activities it offers.
The truth is that it’s difficult for people to visualize themselves taking part in a lot of new activities when the only information they have comes from a quick verbal announcement or a small snippet in the bulletin. Using digital display systems to incorporate engaging images, videos, and sound bites can encourage your members to get involved. Whether you are asking for VBS volunteers, chaperones, or campers, digital communication may be a great option for you to increase involvement and strengthen the sense of community among your congregation.
As mentioned earlier, I do not make the claim that this technology (or any technology, for that matter) is what creates a healthy church. However, digital signage systems can provide convenience and efficiency when seeking to streamline a church’s communication and minimize the headache surrounding message dissemination. It can be a great tool for church leaders to make sure the members of their congregation and their visitors are getting the information they need without confusion.
ConnectedSign is a full service digital signage agency with more than 17 years of experience planning and deploying digital signage systems, interactive digital signage and kiosk networks. We provide digital signage software, hardware, content creation, content management and consulting services to churches and other facilities. ConnectedSign is headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.