How Google I/O 2013 Announcements Will Impact Your Church


Google I/O is an annual developer-focused conference held by Google in San Francisco, California. This conference gives us an inside look at where technology and web are headed in the coming years. The technology that is announced at this conference will impact your church. Here is a list of some of the announcements made during yesterday’s keynote that caught my attention for churches to use:

  • Google announces 900 million Android activations, 48 billion apps downloaded.

    • Mobile technology is here to stay. What is your church’s strategy for leveraging mobile technology to share your messages, connect with your people and engage your community?
  • Cross-platform Google Play games services unveiled with cloud saving, achievements and multiplayer.
    • For a while I’ve been wondering if someone will come up with a gamification solution to support discipleship. What if during a 40 day campaign with people in your church was set up as a game to drive outcomes? (Assigning points to various actions that people are asked to take … levels, leaderboards and virtual badges!) What if it was all built into apps on their phones? Google Play enables that sort of thing. [Past post about the gamification of discipleship.]
  • New Google Play Music All Access subscription service at $9.99/mo with 30 day trial available in US today.
    • Media consumption trends are changing. People are moving from “owning” to “licensing” music and media. Services like Spotify or this new All Access are showing that there is public appetite for this approach. People want to access what they want when they want it. This will impact the way they consume digital content that supports their spiritual growth.
  • Google is giving a free Chromebook Pixel to all I/O attendees.
  • Google announces 41 new Google+ features including Pinterest-like card-based Stream.
    • Google+ is creeping it’s way into more and more services provided by Google. Your church needs to have a comprehensive social strategy so as this network continues to gain momentum you will know how to engage on it. How are you leveraging Google+ for your church?
  • Next Generation Google Maps offers a deeply personalized experience.
    • [Watch the video.] Churches are a “retail business” where our guests need to find us and drive to get to us. Your church needs to make sure you are listed on Google Maps including great reviews! It’s also fascinating to see how “personalized” this experience is becoming … a hint towards what our guests want … solutions custom made to fit their needs.
  • Google launches Hangouts, a new unified, cross-platform messaging service for iOS, Android and Chrome.
    • This is probably the biggest announcement that can be quickly put to use for churches. Instead of hosting conference calls for your team you can now host compelling and rich online meeting experiences regardless of the platform. Why not try this service for your next weekend service review meeting?
  • Chrome browser and Google now talk to you!
    • By saying “Okay, Google” and then asking a question — such as “show me things to do in Santa Cruz” — the Google results page will speak back to you. It comes from its knowledge graph and knows Santa Cruz is a place. [Watch the demo.] Personalized search offered in a conversational manner. Wow. This is a leap forward in computer/human interaction. How long will it take for church websites to get to the point where they “know” the users that are viewing them and serve up personalized information that applies more directly to them? (Recommend past sermons based on books your reading on your kindle … or give you a reminder that your small group is meeting tomorrow evening?) How personalized can we make our digital interactions with people?
  • Google CEO Larry Page quotes and thoughts.
    • Some great quotes from Larry that got me thinking about leading within a church:
    • “Technology should do the hard work so that people can get on with their life.”
      • As church communication leaders our job is to make stuff easy for people … push through complexity to simplicity.
    • “We, as Google, and as an industry, all of you, are really at only 1% of what we’re capable of.”
      • Optimism is contagious. Do you believe that your best days are yet to come? Do you communicate that?
    • “Every story I read about Google is ‘us vs some other company’ or some stupid thing, and I just don’t find that very interesting. We should be building great things that don’t exist. Being negative isn’t how we make progress. Most important things are not zero sum, there is a lot of opportunity out there.”
      • Stop focusing on being found and be faithful to what God is calling you to. Don’t worry about what the church down the street is doing and chart a course that works best for you.
    • “We had 100 employees when we launched Gmail.”
      • Wowsers … that’s amazing. They have been investing in “moon shot” technology from the beginning. How can we encourage more innovation within the “church industry” to reach more people with the message of Jesus?

Any thoughts on what you hear coming out of Google I/O and how it relates your church?


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.