The Struggles of an Old-fashioned Church in a Digital Age
Our church, which has been around for over 20 years and remains to be located in a residential area, struggles in keeping up with the changes created by advanced digital technology. This is one of the reasons why many of our adult congregation members experience difficulty in making their children attend church with them. The younger lot prefers the flashiness of mega-churches that hold services at the mall and whose worship and sermons are made colorful by LED lights and beautiful PowerPoint presentations. As one of our leaders pointed out, young people are not ready to deny themselves yet. Their focus, even in the work of God, is what they want; these are commonly unending messages on grace, the prosperity doctrine, and decked-out operations.
One of the young attendees of our church who hops in to say hello to other churches when he can’t wake up in the morning (at the times of our services) even had the gall to criticize how our church doesn’t even record the Pastor’s message and upload it on YouTube so he can watch it when he can’t come to church. His mother told him that God already gave him six days of the week for himself; why must the work of God adjust to his erratic sleep schedule? He doesn’t come to our church often anymore. He goes to the church at the mall.
Church at the mall — the pinnacle of convenient Christianity. I wonder if Muslims will ever consider a mosque at the mall. I digress.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong if churches digitally deck out. Digital solutions can enhance operations especially in terms of evangelism. After all, evangelism is a lot like marketing; it’s just that you’re “pitching” the word of God and the opportunity to live eternally in the glory of heaven. I think the only issue here is most young people focus on and hold in higher value the extravagance of digital solutions than God’s true commission for them.
Our old-fashioned church, which is very effective in teaching righteousness and holiness, can really benefit from digital provisions like Blackbaud Hosting and Internet Solutions because other congregations want copies of the lessons taught in Sunday School, Pastoral Conferences, and our pastor’s sermons. Likewise, other preachers are always looking to our pastor for advice. It’s also worth mentioning that we have so many programs that need to be promoted through different online channels. I believe, through the establishment of a solid online presence and the implementation of strong marketing strategies, that the enthusiasm of the younger lot can be revived. They may even want to become more active in assisting in the internal operations of the church since the older members are very tech-challenged.
The reality we’re dealing with, however, is that most critical young members don’t even want to help our church with the transformation that will meet some of their requirements. They’re more zoned in on pointing out what’s wrong to people who are taking forever to learn the changes brought by advanced technology. I pity our elders, actually; there are so few they can pass the torch to. All we can really do now is learn digital technology no matter how difficult it is, strive to understand what young members need, and pray that they will learn to direct better focus on what’s truly essential in a life of faith.