These Are the Necessary Tools for Doing Church in the Digital Age
When you see a reference to church in the bible, it is usually a translation of the Greek word, “ecclesia” which literally means to assemble. You cannot divorce the idea of church from a physical assembly of people. A single person of faith is not considered a church. And before the pandemic, an online community would not have been considered a church, either.
In a legal sense, a church is a particular type of corporate entity. It is categorized as a 501(C) organization. But in COVID times, all of those ideas have been reduced to something rather more ethereal. A church congregation is a shared idea held in the minds and hearts of a group of people untethered by location.
Thanks to the pandemic, churches, like all other businesses, were forced to reduce the emphasis on physical gatherings and transition their operations to the online world. Also as with other businesses, it didn’t always go smoothly. Some had to close their doors for good. Small churches that were barely financially viable to begin with could not find their footing, especially those churches with mostly older members. Other churches did very well and even grew as a result. Here’s how they did it:
They started by realizing they needed to come up with a way for people to continue giving that didn’t involve a physical collection basket. Many forward-thinking congregations already had electronic forms of giving in place. Eventually, they discovered text giving for churches was an ideal solution because it allowed people to make weekly contributions in a way they were already using their personal technology. For the end user, there was very little new they had to learn
European churches are funded via state taxes. So they did not run into a financial crunch like US churches. When attendance dropped off, so did the money. Churches with younger members were able to make the transition smoothly because younger members are extremely comfortable with paying for things in apps and by text services. It is such a successful model that some churches will undoubtedly ditch the collection plates altogether. Electronic giving is much more secure and much easier to keep track of. It is hard to imagine churches in the future not availing themselves of this tech.
What measures are you taking to keep church computers protected from malware? All that online contribution is linked to accounts that you manage on a computer that is probably not in a locked room and likely is accessible by too many people. The most basic thing that computer needs is good malware protection.
Background checks are also crucial. Don’t settle for a cut-rate background service. Everyone who has access to the church computer needs to be checked even if they are not an official church employee. Churches also need background checks for anyone with access to the youth for obvious reasons. Church security is not just about virus scanners. As churches go digital, they maintain a lot of information about all of the members in the system with a single point of failure. Do not count on divine intervention to keep your church from being hacked and your members exploited. Churches have to take security as seriously as any business.
More than a Webcam
If you are going to do church online, you have to upgrade your video camera. Your church service shouldn’t look like it was filmed by the same person who does those shaky cams of Bigfoot. You need to think of your online services the same way you would if it were televised. The only difference is that online, it is being broadcast to a much bigger audience. Literally anyone in the world with an internet connection can stop by and participate remotely. Furthermore, if you want people to feel like they are present with you and each other, don’t break the illusion with a terrible broadcast.
Technology and religion have not always gotten along. Post-COVID, your church no longer has that option. If you want to continue to be vital in the lives of your members, you will include text-based fintech for hassle-free contributions, better online security, and a quality broadcast experience.