Technology in Ministry

By JC Davis

Most churches understand what a blessing technology can be in their individual lives from Monday to Saturday, but when Sunday rolls around, many of those same churches seem content to do things the same way they were done in the 1970s.  This is disappointing, because operating this way leaves tools on the table that would better enable them to coordinate the efforts of their staff and to reach out to people who were not brought up in a classic church environment.

                One of the quiet technological revolutions in modern Christendom is church management software like Planning Center Online.  At the very minimum, it can help choirs and worship bands handle attendance fluctuations by sending out emails to all the members that contain a link to RSVP whether they will be able to make it to the service or not.  That’s just scratching the surface, though.  Such software also allows a manager to assign multi-talented members (e.g., an equally good guitarist or keyboardist) to a role that best fits the needs of a worship segment on a given week, as well as determining the song list ahead of time and attaching notes on each song (such as which version in particular they will sing).  With such a tool at their disposal, a worship team can know exactly what they will be doing before they ever set foot in the building.

                Then there’s the question of presentation, and by that, I mean projecting content on a screen.  Far from being the alternative for people too lazy to open a hymnal that it’s often derided as, the computer/projector combo can be a potent instrument for the creative worship leader or pastor.  Coordinating a congregation in this way allows for displaying song lyrics at a size that don’t strain elderly eyes, and it can keep everyone on the same page if the church is growing rapidly and there aren’t enough hymnals to go around.  Also, projecting lyrics allows a congregation to get disparate songs – like classic hymns and contemporary songs – from the same source with a consistent aesthetic. 

Pastors can also make use of this technique with their Scripture references.  Using a screen to show the verse being read can aid those without a Bible, especially if it’s from a different translation than provided printed ones.  This is to say nothing of content that’s more elaborate than simple slides.  Using presentation software and a projector allows the pastor to show visual aids, display a banner of the current sermon series, or illustrate his point with a short video.  Really, the only limit is a church leader’s imagination.

Embracing technology can also broaden a church’s outreach.  Setting up a page on social media is relatively simple and offers a multitude of benefits.  A church can post basic information like address, typical service times, contact information of staff members, and a photo of the building itself.  They can also upload photo albums of the missionary work with which they’re involved in order to show the church’s impact in the world to both their members and prospective visitors.  They can also use their social media pages to post information about upcoming events or unscheduled closures without every member needing to know the secretary’s phone number.  If a church is bold enough, it may also take advantage of live streaming on social media, which has become especially important during the pandemic.  Depending on the strictness of lockdown orders, this can enable churches to heed the command not to forsake gathering and the command to obey earthly authorities.

Churches may also want to consider creating dedicated web sites of their own.  In addition to most of the benefits of social media, a web site can display more in-depth information in a style that’s more suited to the individual church than a one-size-fits-all platform.  It also offers the opportunity to implement online giving.  The data show that congregations are much more consistent in tithing if they have the option to give online, and it may be the option people are more comfortable with than handling physical money in this health-conscious time.

To be sure, a church need not implement all of these technologies in order to be effective witnesses for Christ.  Congregations should modernize in a way that best serves the members in the situation they’re in, since what’s suitable for an urban megachurch may not be for a tiny country church and vice versa.  Still, I would urge churches to make use of whatever tools they can to spread the gospel and edify the disciples.  One of the very earliest uses of the printing press was the rapid creation and distribution of Bibles, and I believe God calls us take advantage of the technology of our day to magnify His name.

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