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Technology In The Church: What Do Lead Pastors Need To Know?

I have dealt with technology in the church since I was very young. My mother was the administrative assistant at the church where I eventually became assistant youth pastor, and she employed my help to set up the church’s first computer network. Throughout my preteen and teen years, I continued to work on those systems.

In addition to the computers, I learned how to run and coordinate sound with cameras to produce videos. Young Alexandria could be found wherever technology touched the ministry. Today, I am currently working on overhauling my current church’s sound system and working with our lead pastor to upgrade our computer and software as well.

Primarily, my current church’s focus is on the emerging need for more comprehensive streaming tools. If you were to walk in on Sunday morning, you would count 15-20 people sitting in the pews. However, if you were to go on our Facebook page, our live streaming services have between 40 and 60 views per week. Online church attendance in just my small church is 2-3 times in-person membership.

Christians are seeking God in a whole new way. Worship services and bulletins are found online through social media or church websites. Church leaders need to take advantage of this online discipleship through technological advancement in this new digital age. The pandemic has brought us out of the church building and into church services in the digital world.

Do you know the true size of your membership? How many of them come from your online outreach? Are you doing everything you can to make the online experience feel as personal as the in-person experience?

As you answer these questions, you can start to answer the question posed by the next section: How important is the relationship between technology and the church?

I’ll cover:

Importance Of Technology In The Church

Short answer: Very important, and becoming more so by the day.

Long answer: I spent two months watching the Facebook streams of my church as they happened. The most concurrent live watchers were 4. However, this past Sunday, as I write this, within 24 hours of the service, the live stream had 27 views with only 15 in-person attendees. By the end of the week, we should see around 50 total views.

I noticed several issues with the music and speaking volume during the stream. I mostly solved this issue through my many years of experience with acoustics and sound technology. The lead pastor for my church and I spent an hour on a Monday night testing equipment from microphones to cords to the recording equipment itself to ensure that all of our technology was in working order, so that the web-based congregation would have a better experience.

As you can see, I personally take this very seriously in my own home church. We’ve even had discussions about possibly migrating to other streaming platforms, or simulcasting if possible. The importance of technology, especially when it comes to growing your church, can never be overstated.

Benefits Of Technology In The Church

Technology has a very broad definition and touches many different parts of your ministry. The rewards are abundant, even when they are not obvious.

  • Growth among youth. Older people also use technology in smaller numbers than youth. More on this below.
  • Streamlined services. Your worship leader can send the music to the band and singers with a push of a button. Your congregation can give through an app, and you can use software to count and report on it all.
  • Outreach among the elderly and disabled. Bringing bed-ridden church members into your service through technology makes them feel as though they have not been forgotten.
  • Lower costs. Many older sound and lighting technologies are very inefficient compared to their modern equivalents. You might pay a little more initially, but you will make up for it in savings for electricity and maintenance costs.
  • Community impact. By maintaining an online presence, you can be sure that more people within your community will be aware of church events, even if those people are not regular members.
  • Member tracking and followup. The right software allows you to see who has open prayer requests and follow up with them. You can also track giving and pledges while generating tax documents.
  • Track church finances. Church technology tracks your own expenditures and incomes. Good church finance software reveals those places where your church is losing money.

How To Plan For And Implement Technology In Your Church

If you haven’t started using technology to its fullest extent in your church, this section is going to help you get started with a few pointers and suggestions.

  • Start small. Don’t try to do too much at once. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you try new ideas, so take things one at a time.
  • Start cheap. I’m a musician, and the one thing I see new players do is buy thousands of dollars of equipment before they even know if they like the instrument. A lot of your technological needs will be the same. Once you have a solution that works, you can replace your inexpensive technology with more expensive tech.
  • The cheapest you can get is free. In this article, I teach you how to start from nothing to a working YouTube channel. If you use your smartphone as a camera, you can stream your next service at no cost. Finding free solutions allows you to take more risks in finding the perfect technology for your church.
  • Read the manual. I know it sounds silly, but I always read the manual when I get a new device. Many cameras, microphones, sound boards, and other equipment have hidden features that are not obvious. By taking a few minutes, you can turn a serviceable device into an amazing piece of machinery.
  • Technology is not just hardware. Smartphone apps let people give, volunteer, and more. As I said above, there is likely a software solution to the audio troubles for our live stream. In fact, most of the hardware you will find yourself using requires software. Some devices can be controlled by smartphone apps. Never overlook software. 

Youth And Technology In The Church

It’s no secret that young people do better with current technology than older people. According to this Pew Research poll, most Americans get their news from their devices with the younger generations engaging almost exclusively through social media on their smartphones. So, what does that mean for the church?

Simply, a church that is not actively growing through outreach among young people will eventually find itself losing more and more members to death and disability as they age. Your church’s use of technology could mean the difference between it existing twenty years from now or being yet another that closes its doors for good.

A few tips for engaging with youth are:

  • Participate in appropriate internet trends. Examples from the past include the ice bucket challenge, video game dances, and various memes.
  • Know where they are. Facebook tends to be used by older people these days. Young people are on Twitch, TikTok, and Instagram. YouTube is a middle ground that catches a little bit of everyone.
  • Cater your content toward them. This does not mean changing your entire Sunday service. Your outreach videos, however, should be shorter and punchier. 5-10 minutes is all you need to make an impact on the internet.
  • Be ok with always playing catch-up. I was very young when I became a youth pastor, and I was learning pop culture references from the youths. That’s ok. They don’t expect their pastors to be the coolest person ever if you try. They’ll respect the effort, usually.
  • Talk to them. Sometimes, the most helpful advice is the most obvious. The more youth that you talk to, the more you will understand them and their needs. You can tailor your approach once you do.

Issues And Disadvantages With Technology In The Church

So, I have really talked up technology in your church and why you should use it. However, technology is not for everyone. Better and newer technology means changes. Many people resist change, and some are just left behind. Most of these people are our older folks who are some of the steadiest and most faithful members of our congregations.

For that reason, upgrades should always be done slowly, in small increments. Let your church members get used to one or two new things at a time. Otherwise, and I have seen this happen, some of your longest serving members will leave and never return.

A balance must be struck between keeping the older church members, the ones who I call the “old faithfuls”, and bringing in the young folks who will one day take the place of the old faithfuls. Of course, those young people will probably be complaining about your successor bringing in their own new technologies, so the cycle will continue.

The other major issue I have personally seen is when a church becomes too dependent on technology. In some ways, it is nice to be able to still have a service when power goes out.

However, churches, after a certain size, become far too large to do that. Also, when all of your instruments are amplified, worship is more difficult under adverse conditions.

Finally, maintaining technology requires a decent amount of familiarity with it. People who did not take my advice to read the manual will find themselves here. Things always go wrong. It is far cheaper to diagnose and fix a problem than to buy new equipment. Be prepared for your team to be a part of the solution. 

What Is Church Software?

I mentioned church software a few times here, so let’s take a quick look at what it is. Church software, or ChMS, is software that helps you manage the various aspects of your church. Some software is an all-in-one package, while other software solves specific problems like finances, volunteering, or worship service.

Your church may need an all-in-one solution. It might not. Lucky for you, we at TheLeadPastor.com have written several articles detailing so many different software solutions.

Some common types of church software include:

More Resources About Technology In The Church

Eventually, you will reach the point that beginners’ articles and general approaches will no longer help you. We have you covered on that end, too! Read this article about The Best Church Technology Conferences to find places that can identify your needs and keep you on the cutting edge of church technology. Also, Church Technology Resources For Leaders is an article that gives you pathways to specific solutions for your problems.

If you have further questions, comment below, and I might be able to help or direct you to someone who can. 

Technology In The Church: Is It Right For You?

I hope this article has brought you to the conclusion that yes, technology is right for me and my church. My home church, which skews older and less tech inclined, still does board meetings over Zoom and has Wednesday Bible study over Zoom as well. We stream on Facebook every Sunday.

Maybe your church uses more technology or it might need a little less, but technology, especially in the area of computers and finance, can be the difference between your church surviving a down year or closing altogether.

By Alexandria Schmidt

Lexie was born into a family of pastors and other church leaders. She was trained to be a pastor by her grandfather, and spent a great deal of time in her youth learning everything he knew about the ministry. She played trumpet and guitar for worship, with her mom on piano, and was leading people to the Lord on a regular basis by the time she was a teenager. She has also held nearly every position in a church from custodian to sound tech to Assistant Youth Pastor. Although she became physically disabled for almost twenty years, medicine has advanced enough that by 2020 she was doing well again, and her fire for the ministry rekindled.

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