Once again the Internet is at a turning point, with HTML 5 moving to web standards, everyone is on Facebook, and for the first time web designers need to be concerned with how their website is formatted for mobile devices. I am excited to be a web designer at this amazing time in our industry! This is a pivotal time for churches to build their online presence, connect to their congregation, and share the gospel in a new way.
The future of the web is going mobile and churches have a chance to be innovative and connect to their congregation in a completely different way. I have always believed that mobile websites are going to challenge standard websites for how we consume content. Today I wanted to share with you my vision of the future of the church online.
The communication gap will get smaller.
Facebook has already closed the gap between pastors and their church congregation, with major phones featuring Facebook integration, pastors have 24 hour access to the people that attend their church. The future web will push this communication barrier even further. Users will have mobile applications on their phone for their church, which can push out notifications and let people know what is going on in their church.
Apple, with the latest iPhone introduced Facetime, a video call service that allows two iPhone users to connect and have a live video call. I see the potential for more video features like Facetime. Users will be able to login to their church mobile web application, and in real-time see if there is a pastor they can video chat with.
I can see live video calls as a great opportunity for your counseling pastors, being able to have impromptu meetings, or counseling members in need.
Your website user base will get younger.
Are you ready for 12 year old students to access your website? More and more students are getting cellphones at a younger ages than ever before. Most church websites I work with don’t even have a youth website section! Churches will need to help provide resources for youth looking for answers about Jesus.
Audio sermons will be replaced by mobile video.
This is already happening all over the web currently, but the next step is for churches to replace their podcasts with video optimized for mobile phones. Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA has started to do this with their own online application.
Online applications will integrate more than ever.
Currently you can find most online applications releasing public APIs for their users to take and integrate features into other online applications. This will continue to grow as more companies launch web based applications. Microsoft launched Office.com and Apple is rumoured to be bringing iTunes into the cloud. These major companies will help bring online applications into the mainstream.
More online collaboration.
Google has been pushing online collaboration for a few years now. Google Docs, allows users to share text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and edit them in real time with other users. In May 2010, Google released Google Wave to the public, a real-time collaboration tool, while this experiment by Google was not a success, it has shown us where Google wants to go.
Online collaboration will become completely integrated into our operating systems and mobile phones over the next few years. The tools for pastors will be woven in all aspects of work and life. Being able to collaborate with staff, deacons, and volunteers will become much easier over the next year.
What do you think?
What are you most excited for as new web technology is developing? Let us know in the comments!