When to adopt new technology

Dan Hotchkiss, writing for the Alban Institute considers the question of when congregations should acquire new technology:

The church I attend finally took the plunge last fall: our newsletter now comes by e-mail. Budget cuts made what had been unthinkable seem plausible. But plausible is not the same as right. How can we evaluate the costs and benefits of using new technologies to make sure we adopt the right ones at the right moment?

The cost saving from e-mailing newsletters is significant: paper, printing, postage. We’re also saving the environment some costs: paper, printing (unless everyone prints the e-version out at home), and diesel fuel—each of the mail trucks in our town is just a little lighter. We’ve laid off our volunteer newsletter folders, saving gas and freeing up their Tuesday afternoons—which may be good or bad.

The benefits are also hard to measure: we don’t know whether people read more now or less. (To be quite fair, we never knew before.) I do know that two members of the choir—one alto, one soprano—complain every Thursday night. “I never look at the e-mail newsletter!” says the soprano. “I hate it,” says the alto. It seems reasonable to assume that some people will read more of a newsletter that sits on the coffee table than one sitting in an e-mail inbox. Others will read more the other way. How can we know?

There are actually programs such as Church Post or Constant Contact that can tell you whether your email has been opened and which items have been read, but the larger point of the essay is worth engaging.

Past Posts