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Technology and the Modern Church
By Dan Vis
November 14, 2016
Comments: 6

Many in the church today are concerned about our inability to connect with and keep our youth and young adults. There are no doubt many reasons for this, but one may be that our churches are often not adapting to the means of communication used by that age group. Or to put it differently, we need to do a better job using technology in the modern church.

Chris Martin, over at Church Leaders, cited a document published more than 15 years ago by Marc Prensky entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Prensky, he notes, argued that the "arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century" did not just create "incremental" change between the new generation and the old, but rather a "discontinuity". And that was 15 years ago! We have today a whole generation who have never lived in a time without constant access to a global communication and information network (the internet) and as a result, they "think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors". The older generation are digital immigrants. The youth are digital natives. It's worth the read!

Martin then goes on to suggest 5 keys to making our church more technology friendly and thus more accessible to our youth:

1) DON’T DISCOURAGE TECHNOLOGY USE IN WORSHIP
Obviously, some things are inappropriate. But for many, live posting their thoughts is normative. Many use online Bibles or other study tools, or are doing instant fact checking on what they hear. Rather than shaming good behavior, why not encourage it? Get your youth texting in questions or comments. It opens up new avenues to connect with them.

2) GET YOUR CHURCH ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social Media can be overwhelming--given the large number of platforms available: facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat. But there are members in your church who spend large amounts of time on each of these. Tap into them, and recruit a team of "ambassadors" to manage small "embassies" on these different platforms. It can greatly extend the outreach of your church.

3) START A CHURCH BLOG
Pastor's lives are busy, but one of the keys to success in ministry is good communication. And a good blog can be a powerful help in keeping the members and friends of your church up on what is happening. If you have a weekly newsletter, convert it to a blog. Encourage members to subscribe, and send out posts to the list. Old posts are automatically archived, discussions can be generated, and your church website stays fresh and current.

4) ENCOURAGE USING TECHNOLOGY TO GROW SPIRITUALLY
There are many powerful tools available to believers on the internet including countless apps and websites. Our own FAST site has a complete dashboard of powerful (and free) tools to help you read through the Bible, memorize Scripture, manage your time, maintain a prayer journal, and more tools are being added all the time. Good tools can be a blessing! Find some of these tools and promote them to your youth.

5) TEACH YOUR CHURCH HOW TO USE TECHNOLOGY WISELY
Lastly, consider developing a theology of technology. Technology is not inherently good or bad--it has to do with how you use it. Giving good solid, practical teaching on this will help both immigrants and natives to understand and manage the shifts taking place all around us more effectively. Such teaching will be relevant to youth and older members. Both struggle with the constant barrage of change--it's just in different ways.

To quote Martin's conclusion: "Digital Natives are filling your churches. Or, perhaps the bigger problem is that they aren’t. Preach the gospel—don’t change that—but consider how you might adapt to the Internet generation." May God give us wisdom to reach today's world.

Comments

How does your church use technology? How effective is it at reaching youth and young adults? What additional ways can you suggest to make our church more technology friendly for the next generation?

Posted by Chrissie Decker on 04/01/17

I'm using Flocktoc, a platform set up and begun by SDA Pastor Ken Norton, now under It Is Written, to conduct Bible studies on-line. You have an application process, but once approved, you can hold as many Bible studies, prayer groups, or book studies (I've one "Power of Prayer", by Sr. E.G. White) as you can manage.

They can be open or closed groups, recorded for future viewing or not, as you wish...it uses Google Hangouts as the platform, similar to Skype, I imagine, but Google limits it to 10 participants. However, some of my group have gotten around that by having a friend on the telephone and putting the phone next to the computer. We've had one lady that actually used her home phone and her cell phone with a different person on each, so that increases the ability, though it may be a challenge you might not want to encourage, lol.

Anyway, that's the way I am personally using technology to help spread the gospel. Others are invited and encouraged to go and do likewise. :)

Blessings!

Posted by Dan Vis on 11/21/16
Would love to hear how others are using technology in their church? Please share a comment below...
Posted by Lillian E. Cepeda on 11/15/16
Wonderful, Clara. I will share it with my friends!
Thanks
Posted by Clara Peredo on 11/14/16
Google Unlock Revelation and you will get on to the website. The evangelist was Dwayne Lemon.
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/14/16
Wow, haven't heard of that Clara. Why don't you share the web address for the rest of us?
Posted by Clara Peredo on 11/14/16
The youth are using the Unlock Revelation series to win souls. They use the Internet service. There are over 700 thousand viewers. There are hungry souls out there in the world who are searching. The young adults can share there churches website to listen to the sermon, listen to an evangelist by giving a pastors name. They can use the utube to listen to different series. The word is out there someone just need to know it is there.

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