Tweet Me That Old Time Religion — On My iPAD
It's an inescapable fact that more and more churches and ministers are using information technology to reach out to their parishioners and congregants. Their methods of communicating are changing, but their message isn't.
It's not your grandfather's church anymore.
There was a time when the only tablets most churches ever talked about were the two inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Churches depended on bulletin boards, telephone grapevines and word of mouth to spread information to members.
These days churches across America and around the world are stepping up their technology game. They're outfitting their sanctuaries with Wi-Fi and encouraging congregants to use their smart phones, iPads and other electronic devices to follow along with the minister's message, look up Scripture or send Twitter and Facebook messages to spread the good word to their friends and followers.
The days of the church sound guy, overseeing a few microphones, speakers and perhaps an amplifier, have been replaced by church IT departments, technology ministries and in-house social media machines.
Some churches are streaming live Sunday services, funerals and weddings for people out-of-town or sick and shut in. Countless ministers are posting their sermons on their church websites for free downloading and iPods.
Some are even passing the collection plate less often, and are now taking tithes and offerings via electronic kiosks, electronic fund transfer and Paypal.
One pastor sums it up this way: "I know you're going to text, tweet and Facebook in church, so give them some Jesus while you're at it! It's a good way to share the Gospel with your friends and followers."
Even Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, perhaps the most traditional of religious organizations, have been bitten by the Twitter bug.
The Vatican's English-language Twitter account has about 73,448 followers.
The Dalai Lama has over 3 million.