According to a Pew Research Study, 9 in 10 Americans between 18 and 49 own a smartphone. Utilizing technology, some churches are finding unique ways to connect in the digital era.

Move over, traditional social media. Faith-based tech might be where God’s at.

Now that Hillsong Church has made a religious name for itself organizing spirited events, communal worship and even stadium performances outside of the more traditional church setting, a number of other groups are now attempting to nurture their own digital natives to help do their lord’s bidding.

“Over the years I’ve watched so many young people with real skills try and bring their gift to the church,” explains Hillsong’s global chief information officer Rob Beach, whose church members can now stream services online, chat amongst each other and discuss problems with pastors in real-time and even submit prayer requests via mobile phones. “Because we haven’t created that environment inside the church, they end up taking on jobs with Facebook, Google and Atlassian.”

Beach hopes to change that. With a focus on competing with big tech, Hillsong created its own start-up, Hillsong Technology. Beach’s team creates apps for conferences and allows users to submit prayer requests for ill family members, which are ultimately included in prayers at those same conferences.

In fact, the whole point of helping the church create its own start-up company, Beach explains, was to give tech giants looking to exploit the “faith market” a run for their money. “As individuals come up with these great ideas and turn them into prototypes — something that can actually solve churches’ problems — we want to create an environment where they can set it up.”

Changing With the Times

Rob Beach and Hillsong aren’t the only ones carving out church space in the digital world. Others are finding creative approaches to bring their God to digital congregants.

You need not look any further than the case of Virginia-based Pastor Matt Souza, who launched his own church, GodSquad, last year, reaching throngs of his own followers through online video game platforms. At the self-described ‘first gamer church’, Souza streams footage of him playing the latest popular video games while simultaneously preaching to those who tune in every week.  This ‘play and preach’ approach merges entertainment and faith, and meets gamers halfway.

The Future is Digital

Everywhere you look, religious content is going digital, reaching people where they spend the majority of their time. A quick search of the Google Play store reveals scores of free Bible apps, totaling millions of downloads. With so much of modern life focused around an ever-present internet connection and a multitude of digital screens, it seems nearly inevitable that churches will have to find their own space in the digital world if they want to compete and grow in the 21st century. After all, nobody wants to end up as a cautionary tale on failing to adapt.

What do you think? How can churches embrace the digital revolution?

23 comments

  1. Lionheart says:

    It’s all about mans greed for money, especially if you are religious. Typical example: “Send me your money and I’ll speak to the the ceiling for you, or if you are Jewish I will nod at the wall for you, or I can even speak to the floor for you, but first of all, send me your money”.

    🦁❤️

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      One time, in 1993 (can’t remember what I was on)I laid my hands on my T.V. and prayed with Pat Robertson to quit smoking. It didn’t work! However, in retrospect, I now remember that I forgot to send him any money. And that’s why I’m still smoking cigars, twenty six years later. That must have caused the prayer spell to backfire. I’m glad I didn’t vote for him.

  2. DrTony says:

    Churches have been doing quasi-technology things for the past few years (recording services on tapes to take to shut-ins, broadcasting services on local TV or cable, so forth). But unless there is a human connection, moving to a technological basis will fail. How will you do communion? I am sure there are those who follow this blog who will offer alternatives to communion that will allow it to be done “on-line” but I think that it will not be the same as gathering together in fellowship.

    Faith will always require human interaction to be meaningful and that cannot be accomplished on-line.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I’m a natural eclectic solitary, so I’m not a member of a coven, and don’t often physically meet with other Wiccans, but there are online Pagan and Wiccan rituals and social blogs that can be beneficial for solitary practitioners, and others. Don’t knock it, until you try it. Blessed be!

  3. Rev. Brien says:

    Hey, crazy thought, maybe google can correct the foul translation of the “good book” *cough*

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Brien, it would be a lot better if Christians wrote another totally different supposedly “Good” book, and discarded that first mistake.

  4. kimberly says:

    I don’t know about churches but having the Bible, an ancient text written by innumerable people works amazingly well as an informational database. Just another indication it was inspired by other than the human authors.

  5. Mark Hannon says:

    An electronic Bible with attached information about the background of the times when each book was written and what their agendas were would be good.
    I like to read over Judges now and then and I marvel that 3 different Hebrew groups wrote about the same time periods the mashed it all in. Once I knew about that I was interested in finding out more about the eras and the groups.
    It makes more sense now about the way Jesus dealt with each group; Sadducees, Essenes and Pharisees.
    Anyway, that would be a good use of technology.

  6. j says:

    Digital future? Guess again. The human Genome, the DNA (and RNA) is NOT designed to oscillate in the gig-a-hurts bans. Humans were designed to live & thrive under 60 hz. Especially when sleeping / meditating (5hz’s). Living in a positive-ionizing world is like living in a low powered microwave oven full time. Sea life, airborne life. Even microbial life are all metamorphosing into who knows what. Life on this planet was not created, can not live, replicate or survive in a world that is so altered from what we were intended to be part of. Humans are unable to survive / thrive off this planet. If planetary habitability is out there it is so far off that the odds of humans reaching it w/ our current attitude is slim to none.

  7. J Hoff says:

    Digital future? Guess again. The human Genome, the DNA (and RNA) is NOT designed to oscillate in the gig-a-hurts bans. Humans were designed to live & thrive under 60 hz. Especially when sleeping / meditating (5hz’s). Living in a positive-ionizing world is like living in a low powered microwave oven full time. Sea life, airborne life. Even microbial life are all metamorphosing into who knows what. Life on this planet was not created, can not live, replicate or survive in a world that is so altered from what we were intended to be part of. Humans are unable to survive / thrive off this planet. If planetary habitability is out there it is so far off that the odds of humans reaching it w/ our current attitude is slim to none.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I saw that movie about metamorphosing sea life. It was called Creature From The Black Lagoon. The X-Files did a good job of addressing that subject too, in numerous episodes. I lthink a lot of people really believe in science fiction, and computer generated images of melting polar ice caps, too. That’s what’s really scary in this world. It’s all about the rich getting richer by selling worthless products to fools who believe in them.

    2. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I think somebody forgot to take his medication, this morning.

  8. J says:

    Part 1… Digital future? Guess again. The human Genome, the DNA (and RNA) is NOT designed to oscillate in the gig-a-hurts bans. Humans were designed to live & thrive under 60 hz. Especially when sleeping – meditating (5hz’s). Living in a positive-ionizing world is like living in a low powered microwave oven full time.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Did you mean to say Act 1,2,3,&4? Is this one of those B rated science fiction flicks you’re putting together?

  9. j says:

    Part 2… Sea life, airborne life. Even microbial life are all metamorphosing into who knows what. Life on this planet was not created, can not live, replicate or survive in a world that is so altered from what we were intended to be part of. Humans are unable to survive – thrive off this planet. If planetary habitability is out there it is so far off that the odds of humans reaching it with our current attitude is slim to none.

  10. j says:

    Part 2… Sea life, airborne life. Even microbial life are all metamorphosing into who knows what. Life on this planet was not created, can not live, replicate or survive in a world that is so altered from what we were intended to be part of. Humans are unable to survive / thrive off this planet. If planetary habitability is out there it is so far off that the odds of humans reaching it with our current attitude is slim to none.

  11. j says:

    Part 2… Sea life, airborne life. Even microbial life are all metamorphosing into who knows what. Life on this planet was not created, can not live, replicate or survive in a world that is so altered from what we were intended to be part of. These are not posting. 4-give if redundant.

  12. j says:

    Part 3… Humans are unable to survive – thrive off this planet. If planetary habitability is out there it is so far off that the odds of humans reaching it with our current attitude is slim to none. These are not posting. 4-give if redundant.

  13. j says:

    Part 3 … Will not post for some reason..

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Then there are those who say we came from another planet. I believe the book was called The Star People, by Brad and Francie Steiger.

    2. Carl Elfstrom says:

      All we really need is the set from the old Star Trek transportor room. With that, we can beam ourselves practically anywhere in the galaxy!

  14. Mark Hannon says:

    I think the new technology being used is leaving out an older generation of people that are confused by it. Some of us like to have the book in our hands.
    My biggest peeve as a church organist is the churches that are going with these piddly little refrain type songs that use karaoke machines and the words on a screen.
    Funerals are almost never a good service since music has been ignored so much. Really? Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art are the only songs people can sing? Or let’s just play some formulaic country song because actually making someone follow notes on a page would be asking far too much of our loved ones and friends.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      How old could anyone be to not have had time to get used to the Internet. It went public in the early nineties. Anyone who was too old to figure it out back then is dead by now, and anyone who prefers books now, and can’t figure out the internet by now could only be an ignorant fool. Right after I learned how to turn on my first laptop, a 1996 IBM Thinkpad, it took ten minutes or less for me to learn how to surf the web. Before long, I was reading online practically all day, everyday! I can’t imagine anyone not being obsessed with the internet. I do still read books too, when I must, but would rather read everything on this android phone, as well as my 2009 Dell Latitude Professional, and put a computer desk in place of my bookcase. Of course, I’m only 56 years old, and you’re probably still dancing to the Charleston, that you play on your phonograph gramophone that you bought when it was new.

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