Technology / Software

How churches can leverage technology to serve their members

Whitney leaning against a railing on a downtown street
Photograph by Libby Penner

It’s been said that church membership is in decline, and with attendance numbers dwindling it may be easy to believe. But the reality of the situation is more complex than a single statistic can communicate. For one thing, many churches are seeing an uptick in attendees as they use technology to reach out across their communities. Technology has changed everything from social media outreach to streaming services for sermons and worship events-churches are finding new ways to stay relevant without sacrificing tradition or faithfulness. It’s clear that churches today need not fear falling by the wayside; Christianity has never been stronger than when people can participate online and at home on their own terms.

Why Technology

It may seem that the church needs to be overhauled for it to stay relevant in an ever-changing world. Technology is changing everything from the way people socialize to the way that sermons and worship events are streamed. That’s why churches today need not fear falling by the wayside; in some ways Christianity has never been stronger with so many ways of participating online and at home on their own terms.

One of the main reasons for this is that technology has provided churches with a platform where they can attempt to reach out across communities in a seamless way, bringing them together with different cultures, economic status, and backgrounds. It's important for Christian churches to continue leveraging technology so that they don't become obsolete but so they can find new ways to communicate the message of Jesus Christ.

As technology changes every industry, it’s not surprising that churches are also adopting different technologies in order to better serve their members and further outreach into their communities. Churches are leveraging technology for education, engagement and community building among other benefits, as the examples below illustrate.

Common Examples

The most basic and necessary area of utilizing technology in a church setting is to utilize it for church administration. Church management systems are an easy way for churches to keep track of their membership and attendance records. Additionally, communication systems, calendars and databases can all be automated using technology.

As many found during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, churches leverage technology is by streaming services. This is a digital method of broadcasting services and events online so that anyone who cannot attend can watch or listen. This is often done through the church's website and social media accounts. Messages are archived on the church's website, so people can watch recordings even if they're unable to tune in at a specific time. This allows more people into the church by allowing them to participate when they cannot physically attend due to work or family issues.

Streaming also leads into church marketing. Churches are using social media to stay relevant in a world that's constantly changing, and reaching a younger audience as a result.

One of the most interesting ways that churches utilize technology is for education and engagement. Many churches have online Bible studies where people can participate from anywhere with an Internet connection. Some churches have also set up virtual campuses where students who might not be local can attend classes from wherever they are.

Some churches leverage technology is by use of digital signage. Digital signs contain a display panel which may include a touchscreen monitor and PC running graphic applications and a computer placed in the lobby. They may be used to display church information during services and events, but they are also used for wayfinding and even streaming of the live service for an overflow classroom should your church grow beyond its capacity in the primary worship center.

Digital small groups directories are another way to engage your church members. They allow small groups and individuals to find one another using a variety of criteria, such as interests or geographical location. Likewise, another great way that churches use technology is to create virtual community groups on Facebook. Groups like these give people an opportunity to come together and share information in a more intimate setting than going through the church Facebook page.

Online tithing can help churches and other religious organizations collect funds without having to ask attendees for money during worship services. Online tithing can also help those who are unable to physically attend services by allowing them to contribute to the church. People want to participate in church on their own terms; we should embrace this change.

When churches use technology today for outreach, they are able to reach more people through the internet. Church leaders and church members can post anything they want on their social media accounts which means more people have access to the church and its activities.

Moving Forward

Technology has changed the way we do almost everything in our lives, and churches are no exception. Churches have long been centers of religious worship, moral education and community events. Over the past decade, as churches attempt to compete with other gathering places for people's time and attention, their role has expanded to include hosting musical performances and sporting events. And it's not just about attracting new members-churches are also investing in technologies that make worshippers feel they are part of something bigger, because, after all, they are.