Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Internet Use By Churches

Written by Rev. H.A Bergsma
Churches increasingly are using the Internet to reach new members and encourage interaction within their congregations, a new study found. In the first research of its kind, the Pew Internet and American Life Project surveyed the online habits of 1,309 wired congregations to see how they use the World Wide Web to further their religious work. The churches responded to an email request to participate in the study, then filled out an online questionnaire. About 83 percent said their church's use of the Internet improved their congregational life, a surprise to Pew researchers. Conventional wisdom says that Internet users are young, libertarian technophiles, but "we found the exact opposite," the Pew Internet and American Life Project director, Lee Rainie, told The Associated Press. "These traditional faith-based organizations were embracing modern technologies for their own purposes" and showed "a quite joyous level of communication." Most of the church web sites are constructed by members of the congregations, the study showed. "It's pretty simple stuff," Rainie said, "not real fancy, but it helps them stay connected with each other and extend their good works into the world." But some sites showed an awareness that people use the Internet to "shop" for places of worship, Rainie said. Several web sites featured virtual tours of the grounds, printable church bulletins, electronic Christian greeting cards, archived audio sermons, and even video webcasts of their worship services. Such interactive web sites give strangers a sense of what it's like to be there and make the church-search less daunting, he said. Ministers and rabbis use the Internet for the same things most non-clergy do, the survey found. In addition to email and shopping, "they treat it as a vast library in which to hunt for material that matters most to them," report author Elena Larson said. A striking number get online to find resources for worship services, sermons, and church education programs, and some even use it for personal devotions, she said. (From Religion Today News).

Indeed, there is a good side to the use of the Internet as our Free Reformed churches know. Similar to the above findings, our denomination owes this to the services of some very capable members, Jim and Mark Koopman, who constructed and service this website. Our congregations are invited to post local information on it as well. See the FRC website at http://www.frcna.org.

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