“Technology is best when it brings people together.” –Matt Mullenweg
When you hear the words “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence,” they still feel otherworldly. There remains a connotation that the robots are coming and they might take over if we don’t fend them off. Images of John Connor flash before our eyes.
The truth is we interact with machine learning and AI in different aspects of our lives every single day and it’s really not weird at all. I get ads on my Instagram feed for something I Googled earlier that week. Amazon let’s me know that those headphone I probably want just went on sale. Spotify creates playlists for me. YouTube suggests videos based on my viewing history. ESPN lets me know who I should start on my fantasy football team in the upcoming week.
Many of us use technology as a bandaid to a greater problem. The fact of the matter is that technology and data are not particularly useful by themselves. It is the human element that brings it to life and creates a personal experience by leveraging data and technology to engage people in relevant and unique ways.
Demystifying Machine Learning
“It’s not magic, it’s just a tool. But it’s a really important tool.” –Greg Corrado, Senior Research Scientist at Google
Machine learning has become increasingly used by retailers, social media sites, and advertisers to personalize the experiences we are having in that digital ecosystem. It is rooted in the concept that we can intelligently use the data that we already have and personalize it to make a more useful and powerful connection.
This is why big data, deep analytics, and artificial intelligence should matter to the church. Not because we are trying to increase sales, clicks, or conversions. But because we are competing for people’s attention. If we are pushing content and information that is not relevant or personal to their experiences they will lack the feeling of connection to the community.
Are you ready for the good news? The church has been collecting data from their communities for nearly five decades. Churches have been using databases to track membership, giving, and other key demographic information. The question you should be asking is what can you do with it to move your church’s mission forward, to bring people into community, and to enable people to actively participate?
Use Your Data for Good
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” –William Pollard
Throughout the centuries, when the Church has been on the forefront of innovation and technology, the biggest advancements in Christianity have been made. Gutenberg prints the Bible on the first movable type printing press, sending Europe into the Renaissance and leading to the Reformation. Rev. Billy Graham began using the radio for communication with the “Hour of Decision” program in 1950, preaching the gospel to the masses worldwide for the first time. It was the courage to innovate and not get stuck with what has worked previously that continues to keep the Church relevant in our communities.
Creating individualized and applicable experiences is now the standard in all areas of digital interactions—and the Church should think of this no differently. Although the mission stays the same, the medium continues to change along with the world. What the Church did last decade will not be sufficient for this one.
At Pushpay, we are driven to help churches and ministries use technology for the greater good. We know that you have a plan to reach your community. You don’t need us to show you how to run your ministries, outreaches, or programs. Our resolve remains in resourcing the Church with technology that gives pastors, media, and communication staff the tools to reach the right people with the right information.
Mike the married adult shouldn’t have the same news feed as Megan the middle schooler. Megan doesn’t want to know about the “Rediscovering Love in a Christ-Centered Marriage” seminar and Mike doesn’t want to go to youth group. Apps should be personal and unique.
The Future of Data and the Church Is Bright
Publishing more than 5,000 church apps to the App Store over the past two years, we know the importance of data for creating unique experiences for end users. This is why our team of over 70 engineers is dedicated to the ongoing development of your app and giving.
We continually build innovations into our giving and apps that help you give your community a more personalized experience. Your app should be more than a static media locker. It doesn’t need to be cluttered with aggregated social posts that your community has seen in other places. It should be a place where people can discover the things that are most important to their church communities in a delightful experience. Talk to one of our experts today!
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