The acronym PC originally meant personal computer. This represented a revolution, putting powerful computing tools once only used by corporations into the hands of individuals. But personal should have another dimension. We shouldn’t forget that technology must be a reflection of the personal touch that a church or synagogue aspires to provide.
In the prior post on technology, people noted that technology should be thought of as just another way to reach and teach members in the community. If you have people leading the technology team in your congregation who are easily attracted to the latest trends and toys in technology, take caution. Make sure you also have people who know less about technology, and more about building community.
For example, many congregations have four generations of members. Let’s assume that the majority of members at least access the congregation website, which you’ve just redesigned. Did you ever think about the font size used for text? For some who are older, trying to read it is like trying to hear from an inadequate sound system in the sanctuary. One of the ways you can help people into your “electronic front door” is to have a button which enlarges the size of the font. This sounds like a small matter, but if older members have difficulty reading the website, what message are you sending to them? You’re implicitly saying that your congregation doesn’t understand their abilities—not the message we want to send to our elders, who have often been loyal supporters of the congregation!
Another example: how easy is it to use the automated voicemail system. Is there a long message before an option to get information? Is the staff directory accurate? (I often find that trying to locate the extension of a Rabbi after hours is especially difficult because some directories consider “rabbi” a part of the name!) If you get caught in the equivalent of voicemail devil’s triangle, you’re again sending the unintentional message that you’re not attentive to your congregants.
So here’s a suggestion. If you have an adult education committee meeting, invite people to come in 15 minutes earlier to give feedback on the adult learning section of your website. You can do the same if you have a sisterhood or brotherhood meeting—ask members to review their activities page and the website in general. You can follow a similar process for getting feedback on your voicemail system.
As you review your technologies, try to keep the following questions in front of you:
- Do your communications technologies serve your members’ needs, and how do you know that’s true?
- Are they consistent with each other so that key information is easily accessible and accurate?
If you do try to solicit feedback from committee members please share what you’ve learned. Additionally, let our readers know what simple changes you have made to help better connect members to you’re congregation.
Thanks—and looking forward to your responses and experiences!
Rabbi Hayim Herring