How religion is embracing technology

24 02 2009

Normally I would not include politics or religion on this blog – as the goal here is to offer reports on key music/film/sport/communication events and reference how technology is helping to improve lives in those sectors.  However, this being Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and the last day of Mardi Gras, I was reflecting on how religion and churches may be using technology in their work today.  Now forgive me for being so slow, but I was blown away by the results that I quickly found on the web.

Here I was thinking, that if Jesus was here today, he’d have a much easier job of spreading his word and securing disciples.  For starters he could have his own web site, be signed up for Facebook, Twitter, webinars, Live Chat, SMS, Mobile communications, and a Blog – of course and so on.  (Please don’t take offense – this is just for fun).

So thinking back to my church going youth, I recall that one had to remember to look at the church notice board to find out about any interesting events or listen to the sermon.   Religious marketing back in those days did not really exist. It was no wonder that attendance dwindled away.

Now, all faiths have woken up to using technology to help them attract new audiences, keep people motivated and encourage involvement  – they could do more – but here is a quick scan on how different religions are embracing technology today:

Christian faith
Websites but found MP3 downloads of sermons (helpful if you were ill and missed the previous weeks’ mass), email (some doing better than offers by offering two way communications and pushing out weekly emails to interested parties), download forms to offer payment gifts, pdf for wedding or bereavements guides etc, and some even had their own blogs!

Appear to be pretty switched on with technology – jammed packed web site, their famous genealogy search engine, live chat, You Tube, video streams, information offered in different languages and American sign.

Web/email sites seem to be the norm but saw few other features highlighted on these sites. Did find a few links to order music cds.

Again, web sites, pdf files, payment forms.

Web, email, streaming video.

So what do we learn – religious organisations are using technology to help their own ministries, missionaries and disciples communicate and reach out to the world.  The above was not an extensive research survey, but clearly there is scope for wider adoption.  Placing their music on YouTube or selling download files to help raise funds for their church is one possibility (I bet someone, somewhere is doing this!).  For certain, some organisations push out regular emails to their flock but how much more could they do to achieve greater awareness and or secure better fund raising.

I think it’s great that better communications are in place – it can only serve to help understanding and evoke tolerance.  House bound people, or those away from home can still feel involved with their religion via activities they can find on the web (Live Chat, downloading MP3 church music, sermons, finding out about events and so forth).

There’s definitely scope and potential to do more business.  For example, 33% of the world claim to be Christian, 21% Islam, and 14% Hinduism (see more data from an ARIS study on Religious Tolerance) – that’s a lot of people – those of you involvement in technology sales get busy.




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