How Technology Is Shaping the Development of Churches in America Today
by David Evans
Even before America was recognized as a unified nation in 1776, organized religion has had a strong presence in the US. From the time Puritans established religion inthe colonies of New England during the 1620s, churches have significantly evolved in America for the last 400 years. Today, technology is playing a stronger role in US churches, and changing the history of how Americans worship. In this article, we’re going to explore the brief history of churches and how technology has made its impact for better or worse.
Old Time Religion Gets an Upgrade: How Technology Changed Church Communities
In the early days before computers, phones and the internet, churches were much smaller and relied upon tight-knit communities to form a thriving congregation. This strengthened the concept of fellowship and imbued a sense of communal compassion. Furthermore, early churches weren’t just for dispensing religious wisdom to the community – they also allowed early Americans an opportunity to socialize.
Without technology such asiPhones or email, the most common way people could communicate and share news with each other was through attending church several times a week and sometimes daily. As a result, you could say early, pre-tech churches were integral to building strong relationships and reinforcing the importance of community.
Today, technology has drastically changed that small, unified security the early church enjoyed. With the advent of digital communications, congregants no longer require physical conversation to keep abreast of community happenings. You could argue that the speed and convenience of email, text notifications and phone apps keeps church-goers more connected. However, in terms of church attendance, it appears the opposite is true. In fact,church membership has dropped in the US from 76% to a meager 43% in the last 75 years.
Even with technology’s impressive ability to keep congregants informed and connected, churches are still struggling to keep religion a pivotal part of American tradition. With that said, here are a few ways church leaders are using technology to make churches appealing and relevant again.
Savvy church leaders are starting to pay close attention to the aforementioned societal bonds in the early church compared to today’s potentially apathetic congregation. As a strategy to staunch declining attendance and memberships, churches are beginning to use smart technology such asweb based worship planning software. With this innovative software from Pushpay, church leaders can more effectively connect with the community using automated alerts, multiple communication channels and scheduled notifications so messages are always received.
Additionally, this worship planning software is a help to church staff and team members by allowing leaders to digitally manage and encourage staff through mobile monitoring. This allows leaders to see how church staff is connecting with various church ministries, and how the team is serving the church community. Software programs like this provide better organization and unification, which in turn, keeps congregants and church staffers alike more informed about the growth and development of the church.
Alternative Outreach Strategies
With advancements in technology, churches are now able to transmit the message of hope and spirituality into the comfort of church-goers homes. To explain, video apps such as Zoom or Skype enable pastors and ministers to share sermons with the public via the internet. They can do this through their church website, or by creating a YouTube channel. This is both a clever and effective strategy for churches to share their message and services with people who are either unmotivated or unable to go to a brick-and-mortar building to attend church.
The ability tostream sermons online was particularly critical for churches and people seeking church services during the height of the pandemic, when shut-ins and quarantines were necessary and sometimes mandatory. In fact, during this time some churches found that video technology was a more affordable and a better way of sharing spiritual messages, which prompted the advent of virtual churches online.
Speaking of virtual, churches are starting to take advantage of virtual reality (VR) to express their messages to church-goers. VR churches are getting very popular with younger people, because it allows them to gather with other church goers in a way that simulates in-person congregation.
Virtual reality churches allow attendees to see and interact with one another without having to physically attend church. While some church leaders may feel this is taking worship to the extreme, there’s no denying that the technology of VR churches can be a powerful tool for creating more engaging outreach and potentially improving church attendance.
The Last Word on How Technology is Changing the History of Churches
In conclusion, thefreedom of religion and worship has enabled churches big and small to find different ways to share spiritual views and spread the message of faith. Increasingly, churches are relying on advancements in technology to do just that. As a result, the history of churches in America is in a constant state of change, and we can expect many more transitions as technology continues to play a role in worship.