5 Ways Technology Is Changing How People Practice Religion
In decades past, practicing religion was straightforward. People went to services one or more days per week, they read their holy books each day, and they prayed. Although specifics varied depending on the religion or denomination, the overall routine was the same. Today, practicing religion is a bit different. As technology has advanced, so has the way people have chosen to worship. While some fundamentalists feel technology in church is unnerving and rude, many people feel quite the opposite. Before you decide which side of the fence you fall on, it will help to learn what changes have occurred.
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1. Technology Adds Daily Convenience to Religion
Fifty years ago, daily life was often a lot less hectic. Working parents were usually home by 6:00 p.m. and many households had a stay-at-home mom who cooked, cleaned, and took care of the children. Even children spend a lot less time doing homework or participating in extracurricular activities five decades ago. The extra time meant it was easy for families to read their scripture together at night or pray before bed.
In today’s busier world, it can be much harder for people to find the time they want or need to practice their religion each day. Technological advances, such as e-book versions of holy texts, make it easier for people to pray or read during their commutes, on their lunch breaks, or while waiting in line. Often, the few moments of peacefulness in a chaotic day can be just what someone needs to feel more relaxed.
2. Technology Helps Religious Leaders Stay Organized
Churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship may not need to adhere to the same legal rules as corporations or other non-profits, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require a level of organization to thrive. Places of worship must be able to track expenses, maintain a schedule of services and other events, keep track of members, and more.
Before technology became commonplace, this required hiring someone (or asking church members to volunteer) who could schedule everything on paper calendars, write up news bulletins, maintain paper files, and do plenty of legwork every week. These days, it is much easier for a house of worship to remain organized. Online calendars, expense tracking software, and digital address books help to keep information in one place, which means everyone spends more time actively participating in worship than working on behind-the-scenes tasks.
3. Technology May Make People Feel Safer While Practicing Their Religion
In a perfect world, everybody would feel free to practice their religion, regardless of where they were or what deity they believed in. Unfortunately, the world isn’t perfect, and the harsh reality is that publicly practicing a religion leaves people open to jokes, rude comments from strangers, or worse. Before smartphones and mobile devices became common, someone who wanted to read religious texts, memorize prayers, or otherwise study religion often carried easily identifiable books. These days, people can use websites or religious apps while they’re in public so that they don’t need to worry about becoming an easy target for mean jokes or religious violence.
4. Technology Makes Holy Services More Engaging and Accessible
People absorb information at different rates and in different ways, and when a religious service only involves one person talking to an audience, it can be difficult for everyone to truly receive the message. Luckily, technology allows service leaders to present information in different and multiple ways.
For those who prefer traditional sermons, someone can still preach. If there are people who take in information better by reading than by listening, the sermon’s words can be presented on a projector screen (or in large churches, even on televisions dotted throughout). People who need to miss church for an unexpected reason could even go online to read the sermon on a website. Videos, music, and even memes are popular in more casual religious environments and can greatly increase engagement.
5. Technology Creates More Engagement in the Community
Just like retailers and other businesses create brand engagement by using social media, websites, blogs, and other types of technology, so can places of worship. These days, many religious organizations, such as The Way International, provide easily researchable information on well-designed websites. Blogs keep the community involved and knowledgeable about recent sermons, community events, and upcoming activities, and social media makes it much easier for current attendees to interact with each other and for potential new members to ask questions and get a feel for whether the church is the right choice for them.
In the mid-1900s, there were only a few ways to spread the word about religion, and it often involved knocking on doors or going on missions to other states or countries. While door-knocking and international missions still hold an important place in religion, technological advancements make it easier to reach the younger generation and to show that practicing religion still has its place in an ever-changing world.