Pastors and Technology

Technology use is influencing almost every aspect of life.  Just look at this idea for an in-car computer! Even congregations are jumping on the technology bandwagon.  The percent of congregations with a website increased from 43% in 2001 to 77% in 2008 (see Ida Smith-William’s blog post).

Pastoral leaders can encourage their congregations to incorporate technology into church ministry.  How do key leaders (such as senior pastors or solo pastors) and associate leaders use technology in their own life and ministry?  (Here we look at key leaders and associate leaders who are in full-time paid positions.)

A majority of associate and key leaders use email and the internet daily.  Nine in ten associate leaders (94%) and key leaders (87%) send or receive emails every day.  Also, a majority of associate leaders (92%) and key leaders (84%) use the internet on a daily basis.

More associate leaders regularly use technology for ministry purposes.  More than half of associate leaders send email to individual worshipers (59%), use the Internet for religious purposes (57%), and receive email from a worshiper (54%) on a daily basis.  Fewer than half of key leaders use technology in these ways each day (38%, 40%, and 40%, respectively). Over two in five associate leaders (44%) use email every day to conduct congregational business, while only 26% of key leaders do.  One in three associate leaders (31%) use email daily to plan congregational events, compared to one in five key leaders (18%).

More associate leaders of all ages use email each day in their ministry.  Typically, younger people are thought to be more technologically adept than older people.  The median[i] age for associate leaders is 45 years old, while the median age is 55 for key leaders.  Do more associate leaders use technology each day in their ministry simply because they are typically younger than key leaders?  No.  We controlled for age by comparing associate leaders’ and key leaders’ responses within two age groups: those who were born in 1965 or later (including the age groups known as “Baby Busters” and “Mosaics”) and those who were born before 1965 (including the age groups known as “Older Seniors,” “Builders,” and “Baby Boomers”).  In both the younger and older age groups, more associate pastors than key leaders daily send email to an individual worshiper, and use email each day to conduct congregational business and plan congregational events.

Pastors can use technology to make their ministry more effective and efficient.  Congregations can also use technology to reach potential members and enhance current ministries.  For tips on how to use technology successfully in your faith community, check out the website Church Marketing Sucks, the Center for Congregations’ Tech News blog entries, and the Congregational Resource Guide’s Widgets and Gadgets. 

[i] The median is the midpoint of an ordered set of numbers.