Jim Sweeney • April 05, 2016
Churches that embrace change, including the use of technology in their services, are more likely to thrive and grow, according to a new study from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
American Congregations 2015, a national survey of congregations, is something the Hartford Institute has done five times since 2000. The findings are based on data from more than 4,400 congregations of all denominations.
The survey looked at what growing church bodies had in common and found that churches willing to embrace change and modify their worship offerings generally fare better.
For example, of the congregations that grew 2% or more over the past five years, around 40% showed “little to some” innovation in worship, while 53% incorporated “very innovative” worship. The report did not define innovation.
The study also found that distinguishing one’s ministry from others in the community, such as through technological innovation, leads to more growth. Specifically, of those congregations that grew 2% or more over the past five years, 58% percent described themselves as being “very different” from other congregations.
The percentage of communities that always or usually incorporate visual projection into their services is on the rise, increasing from 38% in 2005 to 53% just ten years later.
And rightfully so. As this pastor says, “we ought to deliberately elevate God’s truth as supreme to both our communities and congregations in 21st century ways.” Projecting scripture onto a screen is a wonderful way to bring new life to a sacred text.
Lastly, the study found a strong relationship between changing worship, growth and spiritual vitality.
Though the report did not address various tactics by name, it’s safe to assume that popular technologies like church apps or live video streaming are big players in the growth game.
In addition to helping churches attract new members and connect with current members who can’t attend in person, an investment in tech reveals a church philosophy that constantly innovates to best serve its members.
If you’re looking to grow your own church body, check out these three things every church can do to grow and become more inviting to its members - old and new alike.
Image Source: Vineet Verghese via Flickr