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THE PLACE OF I.C.T IN CHURCH MINISTRY [A MUST READ ]- @gr8karo

INTRODUCTION: Before the hullabaloo of 21st Century technology, Church Ministry was well-managed with a strategy of Pastor-Member relationship. Church leaders used the pulpit, accurately, in effectively relating with, managing, and leading their congregation. All necessary information would be disseminated via the pulpit or more so, a church bulletin. Today, there have been radical changes in the above strategy due to the unprecedented impact of I.C.T.

In this article, I shall briefly give a brief definition of some terms thereafter delve into some of the visible aspects of Church Ministry where I.C.T have had a major impact.

Note: I.C.T is an acronym for Information Communications Technology.

INFORMATION: means “(1). definite knowledge acquired or supplied about something or somebody.

COMMUNICATION: (from the Latin word ‘commūnicāre’, meaning “to share”. It is “the exchange of information between people via speaking, writing, or using a common system of signs and behaviour”.

TECHNOLOGY:is the development and application of devices, machines, and techniques for productive processes.
From the foregoing, one can summarise I.C.T to mean: the acquisition of a definite knowledge, exchanging such knowledge between people via the use (application) of devices, machines and techniques for productivity.
A discuss on the place of I.C.T. in Church Ministry seems inexhaustible due to the dynamic trends in technology that arise daily. Because the place of I.C.T. in Church Ministry is somewhat wide, I have outlined four (4) areas where I.C.T. can be seen to have practically transformed the Church namely;
(a). Church Branding.
(b). Church Mass/Service.
(c). Church Security Systems.
(d). Church Data Storage.

CHURCH BRANDING:
The concept of Branding is the use of distinctive means to make customers associate a specific product with a specific company or manufacturer. The word “Branding” may have been previously accustomed to business enterprises that used the concept, and all the tools available, to create a customer-attraction atmosphere for their clients both far and near.

Today, Church Ministry have evolved to a brand. This, in the most scintillating manner, was made possible via technology especially Internet Technology which comprises Social Media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Skype); Emailing (e.g. Yahoomail, Googlemail); Websites, Blogs, Instant Messaging Platforms (e.g. Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp) and the use of Customised Bulk SMS (CBS) platforms which carries the church/organization’s name as the sender identity; Printing Technology (creation of distinct Logo Designs/Concepts, Book Publishing and other print materials). Internet/Satellite/Local Television Ministries via real time Live Telecast of church programs on the Internet, Youtube, Podcasts, local and satellite television ministries with the aid of high definition video and audio recordings which are later offered for sale, etc.
If the concept of branding to a business enterprise is the use of distinctive means to make customers associate a specific product with a specific company or manufacturer, it suffice to say that the above strategies are now being used by churches and their leaders in a diverse but distinct manner to make believers and non-believers alike (especially youths) associate with the mission and vision of their church/ministry, regardless of which church/ministry their target audience(s) already belong.

Nowadays, churches scarcely use the supposed “image of Jesus Christ” as their logo. We either now see distinct logos or the Church leaders photograph as a means of identifying different churches. This trend became fashionable as a result of rebranding.
By using the above internet technology methods, especially social media and Customised Bulk SMS (CBS) platforms, we notice, vividly, that the name of the church and/or church leader is used to operate such accounts e.g. facebook, twitter, email, websites, blogs, blackberry messenger, skype etc in a bid to promote the programs e.g. religious, social and community development activities, the church leader’s calling – whether prophetic, deliverance, teaching, philanthropic or music, as the case may be.

The ultimate goal of all these is to imprint the church (now as a brand) in the minds and consciousness of the peoples of the world who eventually may decide to become a member of such church, or perhaps just a fan of the church leader. From the foregoing, one can perceive that “Church Branding” has indirectly become a tool for WORLDWIDE EVANGELISM which of course is an utmost duty of the Church.

Since the emergence of the 21st century, Church Branding via the use of I.C.T has been and shall remain a mainstay in the speedy growth of new generation churches and the systematic propagation of God’s word.

CHURCH MASS (SERVICE): Modern technology has emerged to enhance the worship experience of the congregation in a church service. Media Telecasting equipments (e.g. Projectors, giant Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens, High Definition Cameras, Digital Sound Recording equipments, technology-powered Sound Speakers, LCD Digital Podiums/Pulpit (that enhances pastoral teachings), modern Musical Instruments built with top-notch technology, modern beautiful and electrifying Lighting Systems whose ambience can make a sorrowful soul suddenly smile, now abound in churches and worship centres all over the world.

The essence of these modern in-church i-tech equipments are to create an environment of worship with the greatest comfort that can be attained and further ensure that all worshippers, regardless of their numbers do not miss out of the activities going on at all nooks and corners of the church auditorium. For instance, a 50,000 seater capacity church auditorium absolutely needs to employ the above mentioned technologies to ensure an all-encompassing worship for the members of its congregation.
The larger a church intends to grow, the greater it has to invest in the technological equipments that enhance church worship/service to ensure her members have a pleasant experience in every worship service.

CHURCH AND SECURITY SYSTEMS:
Nowadays, “Safety First” has become a common cliché as the threats to life and properties increase on a daily basis in a somewhat wicked world.
The use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), Hackett metal detectors, Mobile security communication gadgets, electrical barb-wired fencing and well-trained security/bomb defusing experts have been extended from Banks, Embassies, Government establishments and multi-national corporate offices to the Church. Afterall, the Church is an agglomeration of the politicians and artisans, the rich and poor.
“Control Rooms, which oversee The Vatican City (The seat of the most influential religious figure on earth, the Roman Catholic Pontiff) and The Vatican Museum, makes use of the most extensive Panasonic security system installed anywhere in the whole of Europe (including no less than 556 cameras comprising a mixture of exterior and interior dome and fixed units)” – Source:

[http://www.ifsecglobal.com/vatican-cctv-in-exclusive-view]
.

What is more? We have witnessed the demonic terrorist attacks on churches and Christian gatherings in modern times and as technology that improves lives are being increasingly developed, so do the ones that destroy multitudes within Nano-seconds.

Let it be clear that while our protection is sure in Christ Jesus, it’s not out of place to put up security measures to avert possible dangers in churches hence technology that is aimed at enhancing security of lives and properties, anywhere, can also be acquired by churches especially those with large congregations.

CHURCH AND DATA STORAGE:
Anywhere people are gathered, data (records) must be kept. The era of File folders, File index, File storage units/lockers are gradually disappearing…and very fast too. Every detail are now being stored electronically, hence the use of technology to enhance data storage in Church ministry is not over-emphasised.
I-tech companies such as HEWLETT PACKARD (HP), PILLAR DATA SYSTEMS, SAMSUNG STORAGE TECHNOLOGY and ORACLE INCORPORATED have spent millions of dollars in years of research which have resulted in building complex and highly secured Cloud Data Storage facilities for multinational companies, governments, educational institutions, religious institutions etc all over the world.
Storing membership data, in the most electronically organized manner, can help church leaders become more intimate with their members and this trend can enhance church leaders-member intimacy as churches can send customised birthdays/anniversaries wishes, upcoming events, prophetic prayers, job offers etc to members and even non-members alike, just with a click within few seconds.

Further, members who require some form of help e.g. jobs, financial, marital, educational, housing/accommodation, relationship, etc. can be easily identified via accurate data supplied by such members.
Gathering electronic data, though quite expensive saves a lot of time and physical energy hence churches/leaders with an interest in I.C.T. can apply this advantageous trend to build intimacy with members and the positive results are enormous.

CONCLUSION:
“From the emergence of the 21st century, any church that refuses to incorporate Information Communications Technology (ICT) in the systems of her church growth will somewhat remain stagnant, and no sooner be a congregation of the aged.” – Imagbenikaro Osarumwense.
While there remains, positive and negative effects of I.C.T in our world, Church leaders are urged to brace up and embrace its positive aspects as it relates to improving the lives of Christians all the world via any means possible and affordable, especially the internet.

The kingdom of darkness has proliferated the internet with materials and contents aimed at destroying teens/youths who make up about 70% of internet users, especially on mobile phones, all over the world hence church leader’s shouldn’t seat back and let the devil win. Source:

[http://www.netsmartz.org/safety/statistics]
.

The internet may never go extinct, it’s here to stay, therefore, all Churches and their leaders must invade the internet platform with Godly contents as more youths spend more time on the internet than studying scriptures.
Information technology is vastly becoming a way of life, the faster it is embraced by the leaders of Church ministry, the greater fruits it will yield to God’s glory.

Finally, from the above revelations, it suffice to say that for one to successfully use I.C.T in advancing Church Ministry, one must possess a definite knowledge of I.C.T, know how to use the various channels, diverse equipments, social media platforms, intellectual forums etc to productively exchange such knowledge between people.

REFERENCES:

1.All definitions were extracted from Microsoft Encarta Dictionary ® 2009.

2.

[http://www.wikipedia.org]
.

3.

[http://www.ifsecglobal.com/vatican-cctv-in-exclusive-view/]

4.

[http://www.netsmartz.org/safety/statistics]

Note: all views expressed in this article remains solely that of the writter.

Written by:
IMAGBENIKARO GOODNESS OSARUMWENSE,
Email: oimagbenikaro@yahoo.com,
Bbm: 2B36D2CA,
Twitter: @gr8karo

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