The age of mobile devices is here. You can hardly go to any public place be it a store, restaurant or even a sidewalk where you don’t see people on their phones or tablets.

Originally meant to facilitate communication, these devices are now seen by many as an obstacle to the face-to-face communication that has taken place for generations. What was originally envisioned as a way to connect people is now, more often than not, seen as something that divides people.

Like it or not, we are now seeing entire generations growing up with a mobile device or devices as a daily part of their lives, so it is essential that we find ways that we can use phones and tablets as tools to grow relationships, rather than stifle them.

The first step in this process is asking the question, “How do we use mobile technology in our ministry?” Is your mobile presence just a glorified bulletin board or is it a springboard to a larger, deeper experience within your church? Can members and visitors truly interact with your church on their phones or is that app just a megaphone blasting information one way?

It is imperative that churches, large and small, start to adopt communications strategies that focus on creating a true experience through mobile devices. This starts with customizing the look and feel of the app you use and harmonizing it with your website. Next, you need to think about the kind of content you serve to your congregation through that app and make sure it is enriching and thought-provoking.

Finally, while the goal is always to foster active participation in ministry, many don’t realize that their mobile app is a decidedly passive experience. So, be sure that there is a way for your members to reach out to you and truly interact through these devices. They should be able to ask questions, get feedback, check in and update information.

It was once said that the website was the front door to your church. If that is true, then mobile devices are the porch and the type of welcome that members and visitors receive there can make the difference between walking through that door or moving on to the next house.