How the internet could help religious institutions
According to history, religious institutions have been in the world for as long as mankind has existed. However, how do these religious institutions embrace and enter the 21st century to connect with their people?
Theories and opinions that suggest the internet has damaged religion are nothing new. And in some ways, they do make sense. Kids today grow up with many alternatives to attending traditional religious services – one of which is going online.
While the World Wide Web may distract believers, it also offers users an unrivalled amount of knowledge which is often attributed to turning people away from religion. However, although that argument does have its merits, the internet does in fact have the potential to help rather than hinder religion.
Admittedly it’s unlikely to be him directly typing the tweets, but even Pope Francis of the Catholic Church has joined the Twitter craze. In fact, he’s currently got over 4m followers. Now if one of religion’s most recognised leaders can condone social media, why shouldn’t every religious institution be following suit?
Social media offers the potential to continue religious practice outside traditional places of worship. Its constant availability allows vicars, priests and rabbis the opportunity to spread the message of God to a worldwide audience 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mediums like Twitter and Facebook provide a platform for engagement with the communion as well as an opportunity to try and connect directly with a younger demographic. A free and easy to use marketing tool: surely something worth considering?
If there’s one telecoms solution that a religious institution needs, it’s broadband. And the great thing is, unlike before, it doesn’t necessarily have to cost the earth. The main usage will inevitably be for checking emails, browsing the internet and networking via social media (ahem). However, broadband also presents the opportunity to stream services, communion and mass.
Although it was previously unimaginable, streaming is rapidly becoming popular up and down the country, meaning those who are possibly housebound don’t necessarily have to miss out. Embracing the technology also connects those that may be on holiday or have moved away, eliminating any geographical constraints and building a community beyond the walls of a place of worship.
To provide a good stream it is crucial to invest in a low-latency broadband package to ensure that the picture doesn’t lag.
The most obvious, but essential form of an online presence is having a website. Even just a simple website can play a key role in increasing the amount of people attending your services; answering any questions they may have, organising any fundraising events and of course, spreading your religious message.
In addition, a website is also an opportunity to build a “brand” – albeit you don’t want it to be commercial like Coca Cola – to create a positive image to your audience, which in turn might encourage them to get involved or donate their time or money to your cause.
The primary link between all three tips is that they all help you to build a community. As institutions across all religions struggle for both funding and followers, the internet offers an exciting platform from which to grow both. So don’t be fooled into thinking the online world is killing religion. Far from it – it’s actually aiding it.