By Jonathan Howe
The technological revolution we’ve seen in churches over the past 30 years is staggering. What’s even more remarkable is the speed at which technology in the church continues to improve.
Simply having a projection screen was once considered a novelty in many churches, and overhead slides were used to project lyrics. Now, multiple screens with video or animated backgrounds are commonplace in our worship centers.
Online giving was groundbreaking five years ago. Now, it’s a core function included in every major church management software on the market.
Church websites, apps, live streaming, video-based curriculum, and podcasts are but a few of the new ways churches are using technology. And they are almost all assumed at many churches.
Of course, many churches do not use some (or any) of these technological advances. And, honestly, neither your church nor mine really needs any of them to function as a church. Countless churches all over the globe with little to no technology are making disciples in ways that would put to shame some of the most technologically driven churches in the U.S.
However, many of our churches do use these technologies—and we are always looking for what’s next. So here are seven technological advances churches should watch for in the future.
1. Computerized child check-in. To ensure child safety in the church, computerized check-in will likely become mandatory for churches over the next decade. When parents drop off a child in a preschool classroom, they want to know the child will be kept safe and taught well. Computerized check-in helps with half of that equation. The next point covers the other half.
2. Online leadership training. As our lives become more and more busy, we are less likely to spend hours upon hours in training sessions at the church building. Online leadership training allows church leaders to train in the margins of life on their own schedule. Better-equipped discipleship leaders become more effective disciple-makers.
3. Spotify playlists. A podcast by Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship Resources, recently mentioned churches having a core list of songs to know and sing. Spotify playlists allow your members to become more familiar with the songs they will sing on Sundays and to enter into times of personal worship throughout the week.
4. Text-to-tithe. Online giving is now the norm for many church members. But text-to-tithe (my term) allows those who might be unprepared to give the opportunity to worship through the giving of tithes and offerings. People prefer to give in different ways. Churches that offer multiple paths for giving nearly always see an increase in total giving.
5. Video announcements. The biggest positive of video announcements is the ability to control the length and professionalism of your announcements. The biggest drawback is that sometimes people will tune them out. Video announcements are not for every church, but many churches use them very effectively.
6. Online/app delivery of curriculum. We are seeing an increase in digital curriculum at LifeWay. While there will always be a place for printed curriculum, the ability to have your weekly lesson at your fingertips all the time is convenient for many leaders and learners.
7. Environmental projection. This might be the newest thing in church technology. The ability to transform blank rooms into various environments by projecting scenes or graphics onto the walls of the room brings a new flexibility to existing spaces.
I have not yet seen this technology used in a worship service, but I have seen videos, pictures, and demonstrations. The results of a well-planned environmental projection display are staggering.
JONATHAN HOWE (Jonathan.Howe@LifeWay.com) is director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources.