7 Innovative Ideas For The 21st Century Church

18 Mar 2014

The continual danger confronting the church is irrelevancy. We live in a world filled with innovation and ever-changing technology. In the midst of this fast-paced modernization, the local church is often left behind as it’s seen as stuck in the past and irrelevant to 21st century life. I believe many of the unchurched don’t necessarily have a problem with Christianity. Rather, they simply cannot fathom how the church could possibly fit into their modern day life.

It’s with this idea that a passion began to grow inside me for meeting 21st century people on their digital turf. Asking people to be a part of your church shouldn’t mean that they have to step back in time on Sundays. Technology is available for us to step up our game in every department of our ministries and it’s more affordable than ever.

Here are seven forward-thinking ideas that create an atmosphere of progress and communicate that your ministry is willing to meet people where they’re at in 2014:

1. E-Bulletins

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.09.42 AMThe bulletin is no stranger to today’s church. While ministries have been using them for decades, I still see pretty much the same format in churches big and small. It’s time for an upgrade. While most paper bulletins never make it out of your building, you can deliver digital bulletins with all of your church’s announcements straight to your attendees’ inboxes. I’ve seen this done really well through services like Bulletin Plus and Mail Chimp.

2. Text To Give

Giving is a integral part of every church, but passing the plate isn’t always the best method anymore. Only a small percentage of your congregation still carries cash and checks, because they’ve shifted to a digital lifestyle. Many ministries have added online giving to their website and some have added giving kiosks in their lobby. But my favorite new method for digital giving is with services like Kindrid where donors can give right from their cell phones.

3. Mobile Connection Cards

This is another area where paper may not be the most effective route. I’ve recently started to see churches add their connection card to their mobile website. This allows attendees to quickly submit their data right from their cell phone. I love this idea because data is automatically emailed to ministry leaders and it saves money on printing/pens. Here’s a sample from a church I recently visited.

4. Retweetable Sermon Points

retweet-buttonThe retweet is the digital “amen” of this day and age. When a point in a pastor’s sermon really resonates with someone, their instinct is to share it with their social networks. I like to make this really easy by having a social media coordinator live-tweet the pastor’s big sermon points to the church’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. This allows for attendees to simply tap one button to share rather than having to type the entire quote.

5. Walk-Through Videos

It’s very nerve-racking to visit a church for the first time. One of the best ways to take the edge off for your guests is to provide a walk-through video on your website. This gives visitors an inside look on what your Sunday morning experience is like. Here is one of my favorites from a church that I often visit.

6. Sharing Worship Set-lists Through Spotify

A great way to encourage continual worship outside of services is to provide Spotify playlists of your worship songs from Sunday morning. This is really easy and free for both your church and congregation. Simply create a Spotify account for your church, make a playlist that includes your songs from service, and share the playlist url to your social media sites. Your congregation will be able to sing along to the Tomlin, Israel, and Hillsong versions of your worship anthems in their car, at the gym, and at home.

7. Instagram Announcement Videos

Instagram is one of the most popular social networks for photos and videos, but did you know you can use it to share announcements? Instagram allows for videos up to 15 seconds, so with a little creativity, you can easily promote your church’s events right on your congregation’s newsfeed. Check out how Radiant Church in Surprise, Arizona is using Instagram to promote their activities.
Do you have any other ideas for reaching people on their digital turf? Let us know in the comments below!


Kendall Conner

Kendall Conner serves as the Creative Pastor at Piedmont Chapel in Greensboro, NC. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek, but above all enjoys seeing lives changed. Together with his beautiful wife, Holly, they strive to use media to spread the message of Christ and equip others for ministry.


  1. Jackson Dame : March 18, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Great ideas! I really like the idea of retweetable sermon points. It would be cool to have some sort of app specifically for the church or sermon that brought interactivity to a message. Getting the audience engaged.

    • Check out the “Live” event feature in the YouVersion Bible app. It allows you to create tweetables that listeners can tweet and FB during the sermon. They are linked to a Acripture passage or point in the lesson.

  2. When using the connect cards, how is that positioned to the visitors? Is it announced and they use their own phone or does the church have a tablet that is passed?

    • Kendall Conner : March 18, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Hi, Matthew –

      The main idea with the connect cards is that people can do it from their own devices. This would have to be encouraged from the stage. It could also work really well to have an iPad available at your information counter for guests to quickly enter their data.

      • To add to Kendall’s point on connection cards:

        We have multiple kiosks in our Guest Connections center that people can use to fill out connection cards if they wish, but mostly to obtain information on upcoming events and the opportunity to sign up for them, digitally on the spot.

        Seven or so months ago we went to a once-a-series bulletin to reduce print expense (for example, our latest: https://www.dropbox.com/s/nt1k9skf4u0zd52/snapshots_program.pdf). We realized with a once-a-week, and even once-a-series, bulletin, people still leave them behind and with it one of the most important parts of the bulletin: the connection card. We emphasize using the connection card online because it’s quick and easy. We use QR codes, put it all over our website and live broadcast pages, and will incorporate it into an app we will be releasing on Easter.

        Bottom line: people live online, so we want to reach them where they already are. The digital connection card is a small arm of our digital strategy…which seems to change by the minute! :)

  3. I think you are spot on with the instagram announcments, especially in youth ministry. Are there particular apps you use to make those announcement videos look excellent? I’ve been lookin for something that could make a cool intro/outro text effects, but haven’t found much. Would love your insight!

    • Hey Eddie-

      There are quite a few apps that you can use. (I’m a mac junkie so all of these are for iphone/ipad)
      *Cameo -free. This app is directly connected with Vimeo, so it’s great quality and you can piece together multiple video clips that have smooth transitions.
      *Videohance-$1.99 but well worth the money, you can add text, filters, light leaks, grains etc to it and trim to any size. Also had formatting specifically for facebook or instagram posts. *genius*
      *Fly- free. Quick, easy and lives up to it’s name.
      *Animoto- free. This one is one of my favs, I use it all the time.

      Hope this helps some!!

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  5. Some of the best points I’ve heard on the topic. Great post sir. Great. Will be using a few of these

  6. […] Do your church a favor and read this awesome article that can help your church improve: 7 Innovative Ideas for the 21st Century Church […]

  7. LOVE THIS POST!! Sending to others that I have said every single one of these suggestions to at one time or another!! Nice to know that a creative guru posted the same!! Let’s me know that I’m not going crazy LOL LOL… #PUSHINGFORWARD Even if it’s not always easy to do lol lol.. I Love what I do in ministry!! There is nothing like serving in Technology & Creativity Ministry. Creative Pastor keep blessing the kingdom with all the great information!!

  8. #3: Link don`t work :(

  9. I couldn’t get number 5 to work. The walk through video link. Is there somewhere else I can view it?

  10. More for a discussion environment (class) than a sermon, but a remote-controlled zoomsble/pannable camera/shotgun-microphone that can focus in visually and audibly on participants making comments from the pews so they can be amplified (so all can hear) and recorded (for YouTube/web publishing, etc).

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