Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

In the clouds

Posted on: May 18th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments

In the clouds (link is external)
America: Antonio Spadaro’s newest book, “Cybertheology,” turns its attention to the theological implications of the Internet.


Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, May 18, 2015

Author calls for formation to meet challenge of social media

Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments



Author calls for formation to meet challenge of social media (link is external)

National Catholic Reporter: New book argues compellingly that the church must maintain a focus on the challenges of the information age, particularly when it comes to ministerial formation.



Leadership  Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, May 06, 2015

A Technology free day?

Posted on: April 12th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments

imageOne of the gifts I received last Christmas is a smart watch. It is a watch that will connect wirelessly with my phone. No longer do I need to take out my phone to view messages, posts, or send simple responses to emails and tags. I can even download an app which will allow me to pay for my Starbucks drink from my watch-face. I love this watch. It is the one I wear most often.

That being said, there is something disturbing with this watch. As much as I love it, I also recognize that this signifies another manner in which I become increasingly tethered to the technological devices in my life. The buzzing of the watch rips me from restful naps. It demands my attention during any activity. While praying (or celebrating the Eucharist,) it becomes too easy to simply turn the wrist in order to look at the latest notification instead of remaining steadfast in divine conversation.

I’m sure we all have experienced the manner in which technology enforces its control over life. Whether it is the constant texting during dinner parties, or the intrusion of ring-tones in sacred services. These things happen under the rhetoric of ‘availability.’ We buy into the lie that tells us we are to be constantly available to all people at all times. Of course, the inverse is actually true. In being available to all we become available to none.

Yet the force of technology on our lives extends far more than to just social media and smart-phones, nor is it applicable to merely the younger generation. We also find it in the pull of the radio and the television. Is the radio constantly on in our cars? Do we put the television on as soon as we get home? Are there ‘must watch’ programs that define our schedules?

Recently, I was talking with a fellow priest about the spiritual discipline of simplicity and how simplicity helps expose the things that subtly clutter our spiritual lives. She said she has noticed that she would turn on the television the moment when she returned home. As someone who lives alone, she recognized that this was about cultivating a sense of sound and activity in her house. Still, underneath this, she had begun to be challenged to think about how, for her, having the tv on possibly spoke to an inability to be satisfied in the presence of God.

Does our technology serve as distractions from Godly devotion? If we are uncomfortable without our modern devices, what does this say about our heeding of Jesus’ words to ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God’?

I’m not saying we should give up technology. As I said before, I love my watch—and those who know me know I am committed to computers, smart-phones, and reality television. But what would happen if we were to take a day free from our technology? What if, on one day, we refrained from turning on the television, the radio, and the computer? What if we shut the phone off? Would we feel cut-off from life? Would we feel insecure? Would we be consumed with fear that we might ‘miss’ something important? After all, who would we be if we hear about the latest celebrity gossip one day after anyone else?

When we think about a technology free day, we may automatically start thinking “well, it can’t be on Sunday because that’s when I watch Big Brother Canada!” Yet this very response proves why taking such a day is so important. This is what the discipline of simplicity does, it forces us to realize some of the subtle ways we may be overly attached to certain things—things that ultimately end up detracting us from the Kingdom of God. We take a technology free day not because technology is bad in and of itself, but because in doing without the trappings of modern social devices, we become more present with our Lord. We uncover things within us, possibly uncomfortable things, that our focus on technology tends to mask. In such uncovering we then are able to present ourselves, our true, raw, and undistracted selves to our Lord, as we attune ourselves to His presence and listen for HIs voice.

In previous blogs, I have quoted from Thomas Kelly. Here as well, his words are useful. Kelly ends his book “A Testament of Devotion” with these words: “Life from the Centre is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic; He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.”

Taking a technology free day helps us remember that our life is not to be run by the devices we own, or the beeps and whistles it produces. It helps us remember that our life is not to be run by ourselves, in constant striving for social respectability, attention, or clout. It reminds us that our life is to be centred on God alone, and it is to the notifications of His Spirit that we must respond.

Kyle Norman

About Kyle Norman

I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith. Connect with Kyle on

The Community, An update from The Community, April 10, 2015

New Zealand: Holy Week radio broadcasts chart new territory

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments

[Anglican Taonga] Christian radio station Star is launching itself into uncharted waters for the duration of Holy Week by running adapted versions of the NZPB Morning and Evening Prayer.

The services – of seven minute duration, and broadcast at 5.30am and 11.45pm – are being read by the Rev David Guthrie, the Anglican priest who, in early 2007, began to post the daily prayer offices online.

“This is a major departure for the station,” says David, “and they are interested in gauging what the response of listeners might be to this. The services are developed from my online offices which are broadcast on my website, .”

David says the online ministry on his website has grown “exponentially” over the past year, especially in North America and the United Kingdom.

His site is offering the daily morning and evening prayer, Night Prayer, a weekly sermon and semi-regular blogs. He says he is planning to add Midday Prayer to the offering shortly and will make further developments as he can resource them.

“The emails that I receive almost daily,” says David, “tell a story of extraordinary impact that the daily offices are having on people’s lives. They are becoming cornerstones of spirituality.

“Over and over again, people tell me how they are telling everyone in their church about them.

“One priest with an international ministry said that he speaks of them wherever he is in the world. One of the significant features of the offices is that they bring together the whole spectrum of the theological positions.

“I think that two factors are causing this sudden explosion of growth.

“One is the development of data devices that enable people to tune in on phones, iPads as well as computers, wherever they may be.

“The other reason may be deeper: I believe that there is, especially in the United States, a very clear and quite dramatic return to liturgically-based spirituality, especially among the young.”


Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), March 30, 2015

Digital disciples

Posted on: March 29th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments



A Lutheran pastor in Pennsylvania uses social media to engage youth in the ancient teachings of the church, a reflection of his deep belief that God is everywhere, including online.

Twenty-six teenagers dillydally on smartphones, sending instant messages, scrolling through news feeds, liking statuses and posting updates on social media sites Twitter, Facebook and Instagram while intermittently gazing at farmland images beaming from a digital projector. New Age tunes echo through the room courtesy of online music service Spotify.

Despite the tech-rich environment, these youths aren’t meeting at an urban cybercafe or taking a class at an Apple store. They are congregating at the Upper Dublin Lutheran Church fellowship hall in the Rev. Keith Anderson’s weekly catechism class. The day’s focus is on the third commandment: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

But Anderson sees no irony in allowing his students to noodle around online as part of a discussion on God’s rules of rest. Indeed, this is their Sabbath.

“When we were planning this class, we debated whether or not we would let them use their smartphones during the 20-minute in-class Sabbath time,” said Anderson, the 39-year-old pastor of Upper Dublin Lutheran, a 1,000-member church family in Ambler, Penn.

“And then we decided, yes we should. This is how they relax. This is what they would do to relax. This is how they experience Sabbath,” he said.

Keith AndersonOver the last five years, Anderson has built a national reputation in Christian circles as a social media expert — especially as the technology relates to teens and tweens. He is best-known for the 192-page paperback “Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible,” (link is external) which he co-wrote with Elizabeth Drescher, a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University.

More than a gimmick to spark the teens’ interest, Anderson says, social media can be used as a tool to convey the ancient teachings of the church in the formation of a new generation of Christians. It can help break down barriers, reach across fractures in teens’ lives and engage teens in the spaces — digital or otherwise — where they live.

“How do we equip them to take care of themselves in this space, and be people of faith, if we aren’t in this space?” he said.

In his own church, he is incorporating technology and social media into the everyday life of faith, including youth formation. It’s more than just letting the students text during breaks; as part of the class’s fall Ten Commandments project (link is external), Anderson asked his students to Instagram pictures of their ideal forms of Sabbath. They’ve discussed Christlike behavior on the Internet, and what it means to be a “digital disciple.”

“We are all inspired by what we see online in our faith community,” said 18-year-old Will Thornton. “It’s another way for us to learn and connect with other people in our faith, whether we are having good days or bad days.”

God in the Twitterverse

Anderson’s social media philosophy is simple: God is everywhere, even in the Twitterverse. And if the church fails to embrace that, it stands to lose its future members.

“We remember a time before email, before there was social media,” said Anderson, pointing out that even email is an outdated form of communication for today’s teens. “These kids will never know that time.”

“[Social media] isn’t just a tool you can use in formation, like the way we used a slide show in the 1960s and ’70s,” said Drescher, Anderson’s co-author. Drescher, an Episcopal scholar, also wrote “Tweet If You Heart Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation.” (link is external)

“The church is slowly starting to acknowledge that social media is the landscape of communication,” Drescher said. “This is the medium where spiritual growth is happening, so we have to be working in that medium.”

Drescher points to the New York-based liturgical organization Digital Formation (link is external) as an example of embracing social media for formation. The educational group seeks to help clergy and laypeople in the Episcopal Church use social media through webinars and Twitter.

These organizations “are drawing on the most positive potential of the new media landscape,” Drescher said.

Last fall, Drescher asked students in her Christian tradition course to post images of ideas, themes and people relevant to the history of Christianity on the social media site Pinterest. There are more than 1,000 pins on the resulting “Seeing the Christian Tradition” Pinterest board, ranging from depictions of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus to photographs of Nelson Mandela.

Like Anderson, Drescher sees a parallel with an older form of church teaching.

“Pinterest is a modern-day stained-glass window,” Drescher explained. But unlike the stained-glass windows in a given church, which are accessible only to the people in that region, Pinterest boards are accessible from any computer with Internet access.

Formation for digital natives

A Gen Xer, Anderson dresses in fitted jeans, a cardigan and black-rimmed Buddy Holly-style glasses.

His workspace reflects the merging of old and new. In the church’s front office, white-haired parishioners staple programs. Some are on Facebook to keep up with the grandkids, but for the most part, they say it’s not really for them. On the bookcase in Anderson’s office are round-faced statues of Martin Luther and Luther’s wife, Katharina. On his desk is a silver MacBook Pro — Twitter screen up and running. The iPhone 5 next to it buzzes every seven minutes or so.

“In some ways, I’m a cultural translator,” Anderson said. “I’m very much aware that I minister to people who are not online as well as people who are online a lot. Part of my role is to tell them that even though the technologies are different, [the people] aren’t that different.”

He was first introduced to Facebook in 2006, when he was assigned to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Woburn, Mass. Anderson was a little apprehensive of new media but slowly realized how it helped him connect with his congregation.

“I would post things about my life and my runs, and people would ask me how my running is going,” Anderson said. “People really started interacting around the content that was shared. I thought, ‘This is amazing. I’m getting a window into people’s lives, and I get to communicate with them throughout the week.’

“It was slowly becoming a valuable thing, and people were just delighted by it.”

In 2008, the Church of the Redeemer held a retreat during which they decided to bolster communication with the congregation through social media — then still in its infancy. Anderson began blogging his sermons and podcasting them as well. He also started filming a two-minute Bible series and posting it on YouTube.

“He had an incredible impact,” said Carolyn Rahal, the parish administrator at the Church of the Redeemer, who refers to Anderson as a “rock star.” “He was so innovative. During a time when our community was on lockdown because of robbers in the area, he tweeted prayers.”

In the fall of 2012, Anderson moved to Ambler with his wife, Jennifer, and four children, and his social media presence has continued to expand.

Last June, Anderson completed the 10-mile Tough Mudder Race in Philadelphia. Where did he post his accomplishment? On Facebook, of course. In December, he celebrated his 10-year anniversary as an ordained minister by posting a series of Instagram photos.

And each Sunday morning, Anderson asks congregants to check in on Facebook, telling the world they are at Sunday morning worship. He has also started a Theology Pub series, with Facebook and Twitter accounts and a blog called God on Tap.

“You can try to keep [teens] off Facebook for as long as you want, but this is the world they are living in. They are native to it,” Anderson said. “So instead of saying, ‘It’s the devil; stay away from it,’ I’m here to show them faith has a role in it. God has a role in everything.


Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, March 17, 2015

Lenten video meditations find God’s presence in darkness

Posted on: February 14th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Burning candle

A contemplative video series is set to take viewers on a journey through the dark this Lenten season, highlighting God’s enduring presence en route to the joy of Easter morning.

Produced by the Rev. Tay Moss of the Church of the Messiah in Toronto for the Anglican Church of Canada, Like Watchmen for the Morning is a series of video meditations that use stories, poetry, images and music to evoke the dark watch leading up to the dawn of the Resurrection.

Each short video is focused around a particular Lenten theme such as temptation, anger, sacrifice, service and death. To guide worshippers through the season, Moss has produced one video for each Sunday of Lent as well as Ash Wednesday and the Paschal Triduum, the three-day period encompassing Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

An enthusiastic advocate of new media, Moss has produced numerous videos for the Diocese of Toronto, leading the Church of the Messiah in its pioneering role as the first Anglican church in Canada to livestream its Sunday worship service.

His outlook and body of work made the Lenten video project a natural progression.

“I’m a big believer that we need to use new forms of communications to reach people where they’re at,” Moss said.

“If people are existing or consuming media in the space of the Internet—like videos and podcasts and things like that—then the church needs to go there, too. The church has always embraced new technologies for communication and this is just another example of that.”

To illustrate Lenten themes and help the viewer reflect, Moss has embraced the use of techniques such as time-lapse photography, as in one 30-second clip that depicts a candle completely burning down in front of an icon. A similar visual metaphor can be seen in the image of ashes sifting through someone’s hands for the Ash Wednesday meditation.

In other cases, Moss has drawn upon personal stories he has experienced or witnessed in his ministry, such as in the video exploring the theme of death.

Through the contemplation of such dark and quiet times, he hopes the video meditations will provide viewers with an opportunity to delve deeper into the shadow life of the spirit.

“To say that we’re going to be exploring themes of darkness and the shadow times does not necessarily mean that it’ll be in any way negative,” Moss said. “I think a lot of people then imagine that they’re going to be feeling sad and things like that, but not necessarily.

“When people sit in the dark, in the quiet, I think they often find an incredible kind of warmth there. There’s a kind of peacefulness about it…I guess I’m hoping that people will experience something of the presence of God in the shadows of our lives.”

Like Watchmen for the Morning will be available through Facebook and Twitter and on the Anglican Church of Canada website. Users may also subscribe to the videos via email.

Dates for the video meditations, with themes, are as follows:

  • February 18, Ash Wednesday: Invitation
  • February 22, First Sunday in Lent: Temptation
  • March 1, Second Sunday in Lent: Pain
  • March 8, Third Sunday in Lent: Anger
  • March 15, Fourth Sunday in Lent: Evil
  • March 22, Fifth Sunday in Lent: Sacrifice
  • March 29, Palm Sunday: Death
  • April 2, Maundy Thursday: Service
  • April 3, Good Friday: Crucifixion
  • April 4, Holy Saturday: Resurrection
  • April 5, Easter Sunday: New Life

Additional online Lenten resources from the Anglican Church of Canada and its partners can be found at


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, February 12, 2015

Disconnect to reconnect

Posted on: January 29th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments


By Michael Lapointe



The End of Absence

Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection

By Michael Harris

HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2014

ISBN 9781443426275

243 pages


The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Communication (winner of the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction) explores how the digital revolution now dictating so much of our day-to-day activity unfolded, what it entails for our personal and professional lives—and why we should at least try to resist the temptations constantly on offer from the blinking screens in our homes, offices and in our own pockets.

It’s an ambitious book, and the author, Michael Harris, a journalist from Vancouver, has done his homework. His account is packed with personal anecdotes, interviews with neuroscientists, psychiatrists, business gurus and fellow journalists, and includes a wide range of excerpts from historical and literary sources.

Harris puts the digital revolution squarely within the larger history of other technological advances that have shaken established social orders to their core, most notably by comparing the emergence of the Internet to the appearance of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century.

There is an element of zero-sum thinking in Harris’s analysis, where the benefits of technology come with inevitable costs to patterns of life previously taken for granted.

“The gains the press yielded are mammoth and essential to our lives,” Harris writes, who explains the “Gutenberg shift” as a change “so total that it even became the screen through which we view the world.

“But we forget: Every revolution in communication technology—from papyrus to the printing press to Twitter—is as much an opportunity to be drawn away from something as it is to be drawn toward something.”

One of the most interesting chapters appears early, and explores the effects of the digital shift on those who have no memory of life prior to cell phones and social media. Harris bemoans the effects of constant multitasking and how smartphones “banish the wide-open possibilities of boredom” for huge swathes of society that may have never experienced the benefits of an unencumbered, wandering mind.

The author puts himself squarely within the critique, using many examples of how the Internet has encroached upon his own personal and social habits, including how difficult it has become for him to simply sit down and enjoy a good book without the distraction of checking his inbox.

However, there are parts within the author’s analysis that fall a bit too closely into elitism. In his chapter on public opinion, Harris points out how the Internet has diluted the influence of “expert” opinion, and that previous generations “never dealt with such a glut of information or such a horde of folk eager to misrepresent it.”

But his argument that “commensurate with the devaluing of expert opinion is the hyper-valuing of amateur, public opinion” may exaggerate just how “bad” things have actually become. The shift toward the democratization of information may well be worth the costs facing professional critics, who are forced to increasingly compete against “amateurism” for the attention of the masses.

For the most part, however, Harris’s analysis calls attention to what many of us already know: the digital revolution has arrived, it is here to stay and it will continue to shape our lives in unimaginable ways.

Ultimately, The End of Absence proposes that removing ourselves from the grid, even temporarily, can actually help us regain what makes us fundamentally human—despite how increasingly difficult disconnecting may actually be.


Anglican Journal News, January 28, 2015

Twitter, facebook, and Getting your church online (Resources)

Posted on: January 8th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments


Twitter, facebook, and Getting your church online

Social media can seem overwhelming, especially to faith community leaders and members who are not familiar with the internet and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, social media is an increasingly important outreach tool that can play a significant role in evangelism, in communicating your community’s values, and in organizing your community and its activities. Whether you are coordinating a local congregational event, inaugurating a wider community program, or seeking to connect with the world to promote a cause or value, social media tools and techniques can be used for both secular and sacred purposes, and by individuals or communities across the faith, social, and political spectrum. All that you need to get started is an introduction to social media as a communication tool. The New Media Project at Christian Theological Seminary offers that introduction in a 7-week series called “Social Justice and Social Media.” Although the series is presented to support a specific theological intention, both the first and final installments note, “social media is what we make of it — content and usage are key.” Learning how to use social media empowers individuals and communities to communicate directly with potentially significant power and authority. To learn more, access the 7-week series, posted weekly on the New Media blog between August 13, 2013, and September 24, 2013. The New Media Project also offers a set of resources called “Recommendations for Using Social Media” that help congregations think through a social media theology, strategy, and use policy. If your faith community is just considering going online, read our feature articles, “Congregations Embracing Technology,” Social Media Goes Spiritual,” and “Do You Tweet? Here’s Why Your Church Needs to be Online.”


Insights into Religion, Resources and info from Insights into Religion,  01/08/2015

“Amazing” response to Anglican Communion’s global advent calendar

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments


The Global Advent Calendar has crowdsourced more than 7,000 images posted by upward of 1,500 people worldwide
Photo Credit: ACNS
By ACNS staff

The Anglican Communion Office and the monks of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) have been astounded and delighted by the response to their invitation to create a crowdsourced, global Advent calendar on Social Media.

In November an invitation went out to the worldwide Anglican family to sign up for a daily email from SSJE during Advent with a word and short meditation for people to reflect on and pray about.

Br. Geoffrey Tristram, Superior of SSJE said, “We also asked people to respond to the meditation with an image of their own taken on their smartphone and posted on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook with the hashtag #Adventword and the word of the day. All the resultant images have combined to create the Communion’s first ever global advent calendar on the Anglican Communion website

“We have been amazed at the response,” he said. “Watching the calendar is watching global prayer unfolding before your eyes.”

Director for Communications at the Anglican Communion Office Jan Butter said, “In just 10 days, the Global Advent Calendar has crowdsourced more than 7,000 images posted by upward of 1,500 people worldwide. 18,000 people have signed up to receive the daily emails.

“The Advent calendar has had more than 30,000 views and posts with the #adventword hashtag across Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook have had more than 1m views.

“While many are from North America, posts have been coming in from right around the world. This demonstrates that the Internet is truly a space where members of the Anglican Communion enjoy fellowshipping, praying and expressing their faith regardless of their location or cultural background.

“It’s also exciting to learn that Christians from other traditions have been taking part.”

#AdventWord is an initiative developed with the ideas and support of the Anglican Communion Office, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, the Office of Communication of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican/Episcopal monks of the Massachusetts based Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE). #Adventword is an expansion of SSJE’s daily meditation “Brother, Give Us a Word”.

SSJE posts a new day’s meditation on #AdventWord at 8am New Zealand time every day. The emails that go out with the seed meditation from the SSJE Brothers are “time warped” so they arrive at 5am local time all over the world.

The success of this initiative in such a short space of time has prompted the project team to consider how this might be repeated next year with even greater involvement from Member Churches right across the Anglican Communion.



___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), December 10, 2014

Congregations embracing technology, study finds

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments


Websites, Facebook and other tools are helping churches stay connected to their members and reach out to the wider community.

Community Congregational United Church of Christ in Pullman, Wash., decided to go digital this Lenten season.

Through email and Facebook, members of the church have engaged in Words for the Journey. Each morning a word, an image and a related reflection are posted, igniting an online discussion that lasts throughout the day.

The church isn’t alone in its innovative use of technology. According to “Virtually Religious: Technology and Internet Use in American Congregations,” a report by Faith Communities Today, the use of websites and email by congregations has more than doubled in the past decade and more than 40 percent of congregations say they use Facebook.

“Ordinary members’ lives are enmeshed in technology. If their faith isn’t also, then it is less relevant in modern American society,” the report reads.

Until last year, Community Congregational had a static Web page — a never-changing, online billboard. Since the church redesigned the site, using a WordPress template, more guests have come through the doors. About 90 percent of Community Congregational visitors have checked out the church online before attending a worship service.

And through online projects like Words for the Journey, communication among those already regularly attending the church has increased.

“It [the Web] is an outreach tool and way to tell the wider world who we are and what we’re interested in,” said the Rev. Chip Laird, associate pastor.

Additionally, by using email and Facebook, church members are able to interact with one another at their own leisure. One member is even chiming in to the conversation from Hawaii, where she’s on vacation.

“People are getting to know things about people in the congregation that they otherwise wouldn’t know,” Laird said. “And that’s precious.”

Dr. Scott Thumma, author of the report, said Community Congregational’s experience isn’t uncommon.

“Properly employed, technology can make members’ daily lives outside of the worship service richer with religious meaning. It can function as a medium to carry one’s faithful living into everyday life – whether sharing prayer requests on Facebook, tweeting about a recent sermon, surfing to religious websites or actually participating in online worship services,” he said.

Community Congregational’s online work makes it a “hybrid congregation,” according to Thumma’s study.

“Ministry should be, even must be, a technological hybrid venture in this day and age,” the report reads. “Increased use of tech is strongly related to the congregation being characterized by willingness to change to meet new challenges.”

Laird agreed, noting his church’s digital efforts reflect its readiness to evolve and to “change and try to exist in this strange new world.”

Though websites and Facebook pages remain the most popular interactive tools used by congregations, the report shows more than 10 percent of faith communities use blogs or podcasts.

The pastors at Community Congregational plan to start a blog, though they haven’t yet, and they don’t technically have a podcast. However, MP3s of the sermons are uploaded weekly to the website.

“We want to start a blog because it [the website] is something that should be tweaked and changed regularly,” Laird said. “It’s a new mindset.”

A congregation’s ability to interact online tends to make it more spiritually vital, according to the study. Laird has seen that to be true, particularly with the Words for the Journey experiment. Because people have the opportunity to share with one another outside of the church’s walls, and because they get feedback, relationships are built, which Laird said has spiked the congregation’s energy.

However, Community Congregational doesn’t exactly fit the mold when it comes to digital trends in faith communities. The church doesn’t use a projector screen or have contemporary worship, and it’s a mostly female congregation.

“As the use of technology in a congregation increases so too does the likelihood that it will use drums and electric guitars…” the survey report states. “The larger the percentage of female members, the less likely the congregation is to employ a wide array of technology.”

Researchers also found predominantly white congregations are more likely to embrace technology than black congregations, and the wealthier the community is, the more likely it is to advance digitally.

Nevertheless, Community’s example shows that you don’t have to embrace technology in a stereotypical manner; rather, church leaders must strategize how best to use it in their context and to advance their unique ministry goals.

The Insights into Religion portal and its affiliates offer a wide array of resources and research on the use of technology by churches, including the New Media Project at Christian Theological Seminary, the Center for Congregations and the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. Check out all these fine resources and help bring your congregation into the 21st century.


Insights into Religion for 10/30/2014