A few years ago, the concept of online church felt relatively novel. Relegated primarily to megachurches and congregations with large budgets, streaming services were rare and difficult to manage.
But nearly three years out from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid services—in which congregations meet in-person and online—are standard. Now people can park and walk in or just pull up a website if they want to worship and learn on a Sunday morning. Through the pandemic and beyond, technology continues to shape the present and future life of the church.
In fact, new research from the annual Pushpay State of Church Technology Report reveals that ministry leaders are relying on technology to minister in their communities, connect with their congregants, and solve critical problems. In other words, the dependency created between churches and technology was not an anomaly—it’s a thriving relationship.
Hybrid Church Continues to Thrive
The greatest indicator of this relationship is the church’s ongoing commitment to hybrid services. The report suggests that almost 9 out of 10 churches are still offering both in-person and online options, and 81 percent intend to continue to do so in the future.
While some may have viewed these services as a stopgap measure due to social distancing, they are now permanent fixtures in many churches as pastors intentionally consider access, inclusivity, and reach for those previously unable to participate in their church’s community.This technology allows people who need a temporary absence from church, whether due to illness or extenuating circumstances, to easily stay connected and involved. And for those who are disabled or immunocompromised, or even people with nontraditional work schedules, online services are the invitation they have needed to find a church home.
This is why technology that supports the whole life of the church is invaluable—tools that strengthen leader-congregant communication are no longer optional if a church is seeking to build an effective, impactful ministry. This could be as simple as a text messaging program or as multilayered as a comprehensive church management system. What's important is that the technology considers and accommodates not just a physical or digital community but the entire church.
Technology Drives Mission
The vast majority of today’s ministry leaders recognize that, in addition to making hybrid services possible, digital solutions can enable and empower ministry. In fact, the Pushpay report revealed that 94 percent of churches believe technology is important to helping them achieve their mission.
Take the staff at River City Christian Church in Sacramento, for example. Leaders knew that something needed to change. Their church management system was, in no uncertain terms, a disaster. And the mess affected their ability to reach their congregants.
“There were 12,000 people in the database, but we had no way of knowing who was active,” recalls Carolyn Melville, the church’s database administrator. “Even running a report for giving statements was horrible. Most of the time I was doing it by hand.”
Unfortunately, the logistical struggles didn’t stop there. The church lacked an efficient workflow for tasks like managing volunteers and tracking room capacity for events. The church’s leaders recognized that they were feeding a culture of frustration and exhaustion. If they didn’t want their staff to burn out, they needed to find a solution that streamlined their systems and eliminated busy work.
River City’s leadership decided to try an integrated technology solution that included a dynamic database synced with sign-up forms, process queues, and mail merge—all simple solutions to data management. As soon as the staff learned the system, stress levels dropped significantly. During the holiday season, a notoriously high-activity time for churches, River City saved 100 operational hours, managed over 800 volunteers, and sent out 12,000 giving statements without a hitch.
The River City story demonstrates what church leaders all across the country are discovering: the right digital platform decreases the burden on staff members and increases a church’s potential to minister well.
Streamlined, Problem-Solving Software
While church leaders recognize the need for effective technology, many are wary of digital platforms that feel like just one more thing they have to maintain. According to the Pushpay report, 86 percent of church leaders report they don’t want extra technology—they want cohesive solutions that empower them to solve real problems.
One such problem arose at Bergen Park Church in Evergreen, Colorado. The church was growing quickly and leaders needed to figure out how to maintain a culture where people felt known and loved.
Bergen’s staff decided to try a comprehensive church management solution from Pushpay that would help them connect with their long-time congregants while prioritizing visitors and new members. As a result, the church maintained an atmosphere that continued to draw people, and they saw their attendance grow by 400 percent while their administrative workload decreased by 65 percent. Rather than adding to church leaders’ plates in an already overwhelming season, streamlined technology removed barriers and increased connection.
By identifying the problem and choosing the right technology solution, Bergen Park Church leaders were able to embrace rapid growth as a blessing rather than a burden as their congregants were reached in meaningful, ministerial ways.
Dive Deeper into the Latest Church Tech Trends
Hybrid services that reach a greater number of people, software that enables impactful mission, and pastors who seek all-in-one, practical solutions to complex problems are just a few of the trends in today’s church. The 2023 Pushpay State of Church Technology Report sheds light on exciting developments that have taken place over the past year and will continue to shape the months to come.
Learn more about the shifting norms, rising trends, and heartening ways that digital tools are supporting pastors, reaching communities, and empowering effective ministry.