The Tension Between Technology and Faith

There’s a tension that exists sometimes when you talk about the relationship between technology and the church. A few months ago we wrote an article titled, “How Pastors Can Lead Their Church to Greater Year-End Giving.” One of the reader comments stuck out to me:

The title of this article shows the sad state of many churches today…I want to vomit when I see articles like this.

This commenter continued by saying:

When a congregation is walking with the Lord and the Holy Spirit is moving in peoples hearts and transforming them to be more like Christ, you do not need to ever preach on giving or come up with gimmicks and ideas to increase peoples giving. They will give because they are moved by the spirit to give.

Yes, the tension between technology and faith is very real.  

We wanted to dig more into the connection between faith, relevance, and technology and so we put together a short three-question study.  We then administered this study to some of the 2,500 attendees of at the recent Nazarene M15 Conference.

> Question 1:  On a scale of 1-5, how relevant do you feel your church is to your local community?

Church leaders, as a group, rated themselves a 3.5 out of 5 in terms of relevance.  This answer speaks to a feeling that their church is planted firmly in the middle between relevance and being out of touch.  Many of the pastors made comments to the effect of, “We’re close, but we’re just not quite there yet.”

> Question 2: On a scale of 1-5, how big of a role do you feel technology plays in staying relevant?

When we asked specifically about the role of technology, 78% of church leaders believe it plays a crucial or very important role in staying relevant.

> Question 3: What holds you back from being more relevant and effective in your local community: time, money, technology, or people catching the vision?

For this final question, we wanted to force church leaders to choose one of four potential lacks: time, money, technology, or people catching the vision.  We know that this is a bit of an impossible question, since they all play a part, and many pastors wanted to select all of the above.  However, when forced to choose one, 67% of church leaders chose people catching the vision.  And an underwhelming 5% chose technology as their primary lack.

What does this tell us?

While technology will never replace the importance of catching the vision, it plays a crucial role in helping churches stay relevant.

Keeping this in mind, it starts to make sense why some would feel so negative about promoting giving techniques and technology.  Technology, in place of a heart and vision connection, is never an acceptable substitute.  In fact, when responding to our original commenter, this is what I said:

What’s been really cool for us [Pushpay] is to see churches who partner with us, and after going live, see the amount of new givers increase by as much as 33%. That’s huge!

Now, were these people not obedient before, or was their heart not in the right place, or were they spiritually lacking?  I’m not sure how to answer that, but I do know that they are giving faithfully now and the church as a whole is benefitting.

How do we preserve the balance?

When we talk to churches about giving technology, we use the phrase, “Unlocking Generosity.”  This refers back to a statistic we collected several months ago on Facebook: 80% of people want to be more generous than they currently are, but 92% feel held back by a lack of money.  The desire to be generous exists; it’s just waiting to be unlocked.

I like to use the analogy of working out.  We all know we need to do it, most of us want to do it, but the act of signing up for a gym membership and then driving there multiple times a week, it’s something that very few of us do consistently.  However, if a gym existed next door to my house and a personal trainer was there waiting for me, working out would become a lot more of a regular habit.

For some people, probably 20% of us, they will exercise consistently no matter the circumstances.  For the remaining 80%, we may exercise from time to time, but getting that extra boost is what’s needed to develop a healthy and regular routine.

We work hard to help churches engage those 80% of non-regular givers, knowing that the technology is just a tool to make the process easier, resulting in an outcome that gets us all excited: a changed heart and healthy habits that help transform us to be more like Christ.

> Read more from Derek.

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Derek Gillette

My name is Derek Gillette and I am the Communications Manager for eChurchGiving and Pushpay. I like to use analogies and metaphors as a way to tell better stories. If you are a church, ministry, or non-profit leader, contact me to learn how eChurchGiving & Pushpay helps engage with young and first time givers to build lasting relationships.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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