One of the unexpected effects of the pandemic concerns the use of technology in ministry. Before the pandemic, many congregations used recorded services as a stopgap for people who were not able to attend in person. It didn’t matter why someone wasn’t at church – it was clear from the way we designed the in-person service and the way we delivered online content that being in the building was the real experience. People at home merely watched what happened in the sanctuary.
Things changed quickly. Preachers figured out how to proclaim the gospel to a video camera. Video editing became as much a part of the weekly routine as preparing the sermon.
Now things are changing again. We’re back in our buildings, and pastors are trying to shift their gaze away from the stationary cameras to be fully present for the people who once again sit in the pews. Yet the need for online access to worship and Christian education continues to be both an opportunity for the gospel and a necessity for congregations, because not everyone has decided to return to the building.
The resources in this Alban Weekly can help you and your congregation develop a vibrant, user-friendly experience for your website and online ministry. When someone emails or calls the church office to tell you what they don’t like or can’t find on the website, Trevor Sutton shares great advice on how to respond. We spend so much time in committee meetings haggling over how much money to spend on new tech – David I. Smith gives a fresh take on how technology fits into the church’s vision of spiritual formation.
Hybrid ministry is here for the foreseeable future. What’s your plan for using new media to glorify God, nurture community and equip disciples to love, serve and honor God?
Small steps can help improve your ministry’s online presence
By A. Trevor Sutton
Technology, formation and the lure of easy answers
By David I. Smith
What can the church learn from the pandemic about engaging with technology?
By Heidi A. Campbell
‘The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online’
Heidi A. Campbell, Editor
Before you go…
Two years ago, most of us tallied first-time guests at Sunday services. Today, in-person attendance may be much lower than our weekly “views,” “subscribes,” and “comments.” I think people will return to in-person church, but it’s going to take a while. In the meantime, we need to prepare ourselves and our congregations to think theologically about how we use technology. Everything that’s shiny and new isn’t necessarily good, and everything that’s analog isn’t necessarily bad.
Feel free to share your stories about technology and ministry with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity