There’s a lot of hype right now about attracting millennials back to church. Since recent data says that 35% of millennials do not identify as any religion, bringing them back into the fold should certainly be a priority for every church. Many churches are taking steps to attract young members, often making use of technology such as sleeker websites, church apps, and device-friendly services.
But what about the people who have been with your church for the long haul–what about your senior citizens?
According to recent data, 59% of seniors use the internet, and 77% have a cellphone. However, only 18% of seniors own a smartphone. Add to that the fact that many among the over-65 age group (about 40%) suffer from physical ailments that prevent them from using technology easily; and, once they reach the age of 75, seniors are 21% less likely to go online. With many seniors not accessing the internet on a regular basis, and with the majority not owning a “smart” mobile device, the new websites and apps are at risk of falling on rocky soil.
What should you be doing to make sure the seniors in your church still feel relevant and cared for as your church progresses into the 21st century? Fortunately, there are three concrete steps you can take to foster a technological culture in your church that is easily accessible for seniors.
The Ear of the Wise Seeks Knowledge
When it comes to using a new phone or a new social network or even just venturing online, the vast majority of seniors don’t feel adequate to the task of figuring out the technology by themselves. However, they are more than willing to learn.
There are plenty of ways your church can provide such assistance. They include:
- Find a member of your church who is an IT expert and have him or her run a class on how to use computers and mobile devices.
- Assign a teen or young adult to each interested senior and have him or her personally walk the senior through setting up a computer, smartphone, or other device and using their basic features.
- Print physical copies of instructions on how to get started with an iPhone or with FaceBook and display them prominently in the lobby of your church.
- Gather a core group of volunteers to man a “church technology helpdesk” after every service so seniors can come seek assistance when they need it during a time when they are already going to be at the church.
They Listen but They Do Not Hear
About a third of seniors suffer from hearing loss and may rely on hearing aids to stay in touch with their environment. When these seniors cannot hear what’s going on during a church service, especially if they can’t hear the sermon, they have a high likelihood of leaving the church. You can make your service more welcoming to seniors by installing assistive listening technology so they don’t feel out of the loop during worship.
As for other physical difficulties such as vision and dexterity problems, smartphone manufacturers and app developers are creating products with seniors in mind. Take a page out of their book and make sure your church’s app is senior-friendly by incorporating large icons and buttons that are easy to see or voice-activated features that allow seniors to use the app without having to deal with touchscreens.
Wherever Two or Three Are Gathered…
To help seniors feel included in the activities of your church, make community-oriented technology a priority.
Did you know that 49% of Facebook users are 65 and older? Creating a great Facebook page for your church can be a good way to reach out to these seniors who are already using online social networking sites. Research shows that most seniors who are active on sites like Facebook tend to have more social interactions, both in person and online, than other people in their age group.
For seniors who have low mobility and can’t make it to regular services or Bible studies, there are some great options you can inform them of. One way to reach out to seniors at risk of missing out on weekly worship is to stream your service straight to their homes. As for Bible studies, there are many Bible apps out there that allow for both individual and group study.
Finally, you can use Church Management Software to pull together your entire congregation and keep seniors connected to the other members of your church by maintaining interactive calendars, member directories, and mass-communication capabilities.
He That Handles a Matter Wisely Shall Find Good
By following these three steps, you will find that the seniors in your church will be able to accompany your church into the 21st century more happily and better connected to your church’s community, both technological and personal.
What about you?
Did I miss anything? What are your thoughts on how to make your church technology accessible to seniors? Let me know in the comments below!
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