Churches use social media to reach out

Church members, from left, Nick Beeswick, Klaas Tathabaneg and Merle Heideman use modern technology at Father’s House Church as churches embrace technology in many ways, including church apps, social media platforms, websites and live streaming. Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Hi-tech advances make spreading the message so much easier, writes Lee-Anne Butler

From mobile apps, social media platforms, interactive websites and even live streaming services all over the world, churches in Nelson Mandela Bay are embracing technology.

Already several churches are realising the benefits of introducing technology into their services to reach wider audiences and “spread the message”.

Father’s House founder and lead pastor George Georgiou said the church made use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and also live streamed services to more than 140 countries around the world.

“We also have a website and an app on Android and Apple. The bigger the organisation, the more information there is to relay,” Georgiou said.

Georgiou said the church also filmed its church news and special notices with a presenter and played it on a screen during services. He said the church’s mobile app allowed members to access church services such as a marriage officer, counselling in times of bereavements, baby dedications, new member sign-up forms and listening to sermons via podcasts.

“It is very important for churches to reach more people. We have about 30 000 followers on Facebook,” Georgiou said.

“This is the language young people understand. If churches are not willing to transform they will lose membership as congregations are ageing and therefore diminishing. “You need to reach more young people who are exploring their spirituality. These people Google first before doing anything.”

Pastor Richard Preston, lead elder at The Storehouse Church in Lorraine, said: “Technology has become extremely important to us as a church. “While we are not on the cutting edge, we are not exactly on the ox wagon either. “Our webpage and Facebook page help us communicate with people. More and more people are using the internet now than ever before.

“We have been putting our sermons on our website for people to listen to and we have received feedback from people living in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and other countries around the world.

Preston said when asking new parishioners how they had found the church, many have said that they had found its website.

“People moving from other towns and cities do research and this means searching a church’s website or social media page,” he said. Pastor Jimmy Crompton, of Word of Faith Christian Centre on the William Moffett Expressway, said the church had its own website, a Facebook page and had close to 600 subscribers to its Youtube service.

“It is a great means of communicating the gospel. We have one morning service and two evening services, but sometimes people are unable to attend,” Crompton said.

“This way people can tune in and listen.” Crompton said these communication tools were also important for people who have moved away or people who have moved to Port Elizabeth and are looking for a place to worship.

“We have put all kinds of information on our website, like our child re n ’s church, youth, divorce care, grief share and our campaigns to feed the hungry,” he said.

Crompton said because the church has about 5 000 members, Facebook made communication and keeping parishioners informed about church events and notices much easier. Pastor Neville Goldman, of Ebenezer International Christian Church in Algoa Park, said churches would lose younger parishioners if they were not willing to transform.

“You need to know what the younger generation is looking for. If you do not connect to social media you are missing out,” he said.

Goldman said the church had a website as well as a Facebook page with over 3 500 members. He said Facebook was a powerful communication tool that all churches could use to reach wider audiences and inform its congregation.

“It is not expensive. You do not need to lay any cables or fibre optics. You can do recordings and upload to Facebook or Youtube,” he said. “But while technology is becoming important – you can have all the lighting and hi-tech in the world – it does not mean anything if you do not feel the presence of God.”

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