Mobile devices and ministry

It’s been on my radar for a while now the importance of mobile technology and communication with teens. Two of the three ways we communicate with adolescents are centered on their cell phones for just that reason (text and facebook; the third is snail mail).

What’s been fascinating to me lately, though, is the shift in adult use of mobile tech. Two things have really jumped out at me, and my guess is that they are a reflection of the adult population at large. The first is my blog; a third of the traffic comes from mobile devices. I honestly had no idea – I hadn’t paid attention to the ways people view my blog in a couple years – the last time I had looked it was only a few percent of the total traffic. That’s a huge shift in a small amount of time (relatively speaking).

The second thing to jump out at me are the stats from my parent email update list. I use Mail Chimp, which has been a great (FREE!) tool for analyzing how effective my emails are, what parts people are reading, how often, WHO is reading (and who isn’t!), and more. Anyway, check out the screen shot to the right (taken from my Mail Chimp iPhone app); 52% of the emails read are done so through mobile device clients. More than half! That’s a big, big number to pay attention to!

All that to say, I need to recognize that a huge portion of my online communication is being consumed on handheld screens. That needs to shape how I communicate; it needs to be relevant, look good on a three inch screen, be focused and streamlined for readers on the go.

It also means that in our youth ministry I’m intentionally expanding our use of mobile communication tools with parents, including texting, Facebook, Twitter and now I’m experimenting with Instagram. I’d love to know how other student ministries are using mobile technology to connect with parents!

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