When it comes to disruptive technology, not even the house of God is safe. Churches and church leaders are preparing themselves for a world in which their congregations are connected to each other and actively incorporating the latest technology into their spiritual lives. Technology and religion feel as if they should be in separate domains, but the truth is that churches have often been at the forefront of technology, using it to spread their messages far and wide to anyone and everyone who’ll listen.
Now, though, pastors and ministers have put together what they think will be the biggest disruptive trends that will rule in 2017. Let’s take a look at what they thought would happen.
In the world of business, face-to-face meetings are being superseded by cheaper, more efficient online video conferencing, all thanks to the march of technology. But when it comes to worship, is getting rid of the church building and replacing it with an app a good idea. According to most Christians, it isn’t, even if it would make things a lot cheaper and more efficient. Christians don’t see the online church as being a replacement for the real thing. Instead, they see it as a way for people who are out doing missionary work, or who don’t have the energy or resources to travel to a physical location every Sunday, to enjoy church services from the comfort of their own computer.
Preachers have had difficulty in filling church chairs on Sunday evening and Wednesday nights of late. In the past, these “out of hour” services used to be for people who, for whatever reason, couldn’t make it to church on a Sunday morning. But now preachers are finding that they aren’t getting filled as much. Why? It turns out that a lot of people who don’t show up on Sunday morning are now catching up on Sunday morning services at other times during the week. Churches are releasing podcasts and videos of services on YouTube and other platforms that allow members of the congregation to consume church services any time they want.
Preachers have realized this and are now tailoring their content to make it higher quality. Instead of focusing on 70 messages a year, trying to do something different from every service throughout the week, ministers are not streamlining their range of topics throughout the year in an attempt to drive higher quality. Most are opting for 35 quality sermons throughout the year.
Given that people can now enjoy church content wherever they are, how will churches get people to show up to the actual events? Top ministers think that, in the future, churches will need to be more about the experience than the actual sermons. After all, if people can listen to church services on their phone, why would they bother turning up. Expect church services to become more like live music events with a heavy dose of crowd interaction, as well as a lot of social work and community outreach.