Technology and the use of it in today's church will certainly have an effect on the future of the church. The advantages it gives churches when communicating the gospel message are overwhelming. Preachers can preach to thousands virtually which may be limited to a small number typically. More productivity, creative elements, video representations, skits and other visual aids can be used to bring the story of the bible to life. Online church presentations of the ministry help leaders communicate with their groups without the limit of geographical space. However, if the church is not careful, technology can begin to replace what is the authentic practices of the Christian faith. There are some things that technology should not replace, because it is a tool and not a substitute:
Worship- Bespeaking the personal responsibility of worship. Worship is not about the cameras, lights, fog, countdowns, graphics, lower thirds, and matching attire! It is a spiritual activity.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)
Word- Props, Movies, Graphics, Skits, and other forms of technology should not be used as a substitute for the gospel. The word of God doesn’t need help.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
6 I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
Witness- Technology should not be a substitute for the believers responsibility to be witnesses for Christ. We shouldn’t rely on blogs, emails, and social platforms to tell the story for us.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us (1 John 1:1-2)
Community- Technology such as live streams, videos, and other church online features should not replace but act as an alternative for distant, disabled, or immobile viewers.
And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled together to break bread [the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7) AMP
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
The year 2020 will be remembered as a historical year in the history of the church. This year has been a very impactful year in church trends, structure, and functionality. Churches around the country are weighing whether to suspend worship services in response to the coronavirus, with their decisions dependent on their size, their proximity to an outbreak, and perhaps even their political leanings (Gjelton, 2020). In light of all of this, one of the biggest weekends for the Western Church is around the corner; Easter. Barring a miracle, most U.S. churches will be closed for in-person Easter services this year because of the coronavirus crisis.
While Easter service has long been a springtime celebration that brings together the Christian faithful to rejoice in their belief in the resurrection of Christ and to mingle in their Easter finery, church leaders and believers have scrambled to maintain these traditions without bringing large numbers of people together (Staglin, 2020). The church is yet again embarking upon a great reformation. Pastors and ministry leaders are having to rethink church and provide creative solutions to worshipping and fellowshipping without actually gathering in numbers over 10 people.
There has been several creative ways to maintain the sense of community for churches. The connection is tri-part. Churches have to maintain the community feel for those who are already connected as laity, then there has to be moments of training and development for its leaders, and also there has to be an appeal for potential members of the body. Options to stream services online has been one of the main responses to this pandemic. Platforms such as Facebook live, Youtube, and churchonlineplatform.org have been great sources because they are all free. Many churches just have not been ready for this mass cancellation of services. In a recent article by Horizon’s Stewardship, Joe Park said, “Churches that have been live streaming their worship services soon discover they have an entire virtual congregation. If you haven’t yet gone to livestream, you can still engage your congregation by posting the audio of the sermon or your entire service online. This will help people continue to feel connected despite not physically being together” (Park, 2020). In addition to streaming for the entire congregation, churches can use services such as Zoom, Groupme, Workplace by Facebook, Google Hangouts, and other chat or group conferencing services to conduct leadership trainings or small group development opportunities. The next concern for churches would be to continue to grow and reach new people through this crisis. Using social media platforms, emails, subscriptions, videos, and google ads are all necessary ways to invite and attract new traffic. Sharing our faith and inviting others to experience Christ has always been at the core of the Christian faith. In Mark 16: 15-16, “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”. In addition, Philemon 1:6, “and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ”.
In conclusion, the aftermath of the Coronavirus will leave some (if not most) perplexed as to how to proceed forward in ministry and church behavior. The Gallup Poll shows that only 42% of millennials attend church. This is the lowest generational percentage. Traditionalists come in at 68%, which is down from 77% in 2000. Even more generation X individuals attend church, though their rate has declined to 54% from 62% (Costello, 2020). Fortunately, most millennials are using social media, and this is our greatest opportunity to reach this group because they are watching. Despite the popularity of the Internet, many churches still refuse to get online. However, your members are online. Potential members are online. People who can’t attend church, but want to, are online. You can see the pattern here. Currently, 57% of the world uses the Internet and 45% of the population uses social media. There are 3.4 billion people using social media regularly. That’s too large of a number to ignore. In just a single year, social media users increased by over 288 million. In fact, 83% of North America uses social media (Costello, 2020).
Gjelten, T. (2020). Churches Grapple with Whether to Suspend Worship Services. NPR. Special Series: The Coronavirus Crisis. March13,2020.https://www.npr.org/2020/03/13/815502396/churches-grapple-with-whether-to-suspend-worship-services
Park, Joe. (2020). What Your Church Can Do to Stay Connected During Coronavirus. Horizons Stewardship. March 12, 2020. https://horizons.net/what-churches-can-do-to-stay-connected-during-coronavirus/
Stanglin, D. (2020). How We Can Show Love for the Most Vulnerable: Churches cancel in-person Easter Services. USA Today. March 20, 2020.