Technology in the Church: Help or Hindrance?

3 ways to utilize technology without creating a disconnect between Christians

Sasha and Luke have a hard time getting to church. Still adjusting to the demands of married life, they both work more than 40 hours a week and sometimes travel for their jobs, which often leaves them feeling exhausted by the time Sunday rolls around. They value their spiritual growth and miss their church body, but it’s much more practical to stream sermons on their own instead of holding themselves to their church’s schedule. Doing so makes them feel like they’re getting the biblical enrichment they desire without needlessly wearing themselves out.

Sound familiar?

It’s an all-too-common scenario representing one of the many examples of how technology is changing the way people think about church. On a positive side, those who cannot easily attend a local church now have the option to access quality Bible teaching from anywhere in the world. But while technology has created new avenues to spiritual growth, it has also introduced a number of challenges—perhaps none more important than the question of how to effectively utilize technology without replacing the physical gathering.

There’s no disputing technology’s role in augmenting the outreach efforts of churches. It has made the process of reaching individuals with the gospel and raising donations for ministry easier than ever before. But many believers have opted for using technology as a replacement for the physical gathering, which is not a positive development within the church.

Research shows that nearly half of all Americans experience loneliness. One in four lacks any kind of deep friendship and only one in two reports having meaningful social interactions. Clearly, there is an urgent need for the church to encourage in-person gathering for the sake of both the spiritual and mental health of its members. Technological advances like live streaming cannot replace physical worship services.

But can the two work in tandem? What would it look like for the church to utilize technology without creating a relational disconnect between Christians?

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Here are some ideas:

1. Treat technology as a tool that supplements in-person ministry. Churches can use social media to engage with members throughout the week posting quotes, pictures and clips from previous sermons. Some churches ask questions or run polls on their social media pages as a way of contributing to upcoming services.

2. Provide opportunities for the church to serve. Volunteer management platforms can assist organization leaders with recruiting volunteers, initiating projects and connecting to local causes for maximum community impact.

3. Emphasize the importance of small group studies. Online streaming services offer churches the ability to empower their people to lead small groups in their homes outside of the weekly service.

These are just a few of the ways committed church members can use technology to acquire quality Bible teaching without the risk of it replacing their in-person participation.

Like many modern gifts, technology can be used for God’s glory when utilized for good purposes. But nothing can replace the authentic accountability, encouragement and fellowship that naturally occur when God’s people gather together to worship him.

Brian Mosley is the president of RightNow Media, the world’s largest library of video-driven Bible study resources, used by more than 20,000 churches, schools, and organizations.