Nashville, Tenn. | Going to church for some can be a bit like hanging out at Starbucks. The coffee’s hot, the people are friendly, and the Wi-Fi is almost always free.
A new survey from LifeWay Research found 68% of Protestant churches provide Wi-Fi for both guests and staff, and 84% have a website and a Facebook page. Fewer—16%—have ventured on Twitter.
Once wary of technology, Protestant churches now seem all in, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. It’s another way to connect with guests and worshipers alike.
“Not long ago churches’ use of technology was often limited to a website that functioned like the Yellow Pages or a bulletin board,” McConnell said of the study conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 18, 2017. “Now they see technology as a way to interact with people. Wi-Fi is just one more way to do that.”
The use of Facebook by churches has emerged rapidly. A 2010 LifeWay Research study found that only 47% had Facebook pages. Now, even most small churches—those with fewer than 50 attendees—are likely to have a Facebook page. Larger churches—those with 250 or more attenders—are more likely to also use Twitter and Instagram.
Most churches aren’t afraid of new technology, according to LifeWay Research. Only 2% of churches say they avoid new technology, while 14% say they are slow to adopt it. And more than half of churches (61%) are open to new technology but don’t go looking for it.
That’s especially true when it comes to online giving. Despite the popularity of electronic bill-paying, only about 30% of all churches in the study allow online giving through their website.
That’s up from 14% in 2010, according to LifeWay Research. Still, McConnell expected that figure to be higher, given that Americans pay more than half of their bills online, according to a 2017 report from ACI Online.
Bigger churches—those with 250 or more attenders—seem to love online giving, as 74% of them offer it on their websites. By contrast, 39% of churches with 100 to 249 attenders offer online giving. And only 23% of churches with 100 attenders or fewer offer online giving.
“Technology is great,” McConnell said, “but smaller churches still like to pass the plate.”