Technology Gives Us Televangelism

Who would have thought that technology and church could be a match made in heaven?! As now church goers across the US attend church by making themselves comfy on their sofa’s as they sit down in front of their TV, reach for their Roku remote control and flick on to access live worship services via the Northland Church channel. Welcome to the armchair pilgrim or what is also called televangelism.

Northland added a Roku channel to its mix of multi-media outreach tools last October and has been using traditional web video, Facebook and other technology such as mobile phone apps for its online worship services and has been very successful. Northland was the first church on Roku and the religious technology word spread, and others followed within weeks. Roku now features its own ‘Religion and Spirituality’ category with ten channels from churches and other religious entities. Brian Jaquet, Director of Corporate Communications, Roku says, “It really happened so quickly.”

Northland broadcasts live from one of its Florida-based churches and its ministers are used to starting services by welcoming everyone watching online. Robert Andrescik, PR Director, Northland says, “Nearly one-third of our congregation of 15,000 worships with us via the web. There’s a burgeoning ‘house church’ movement in America. Making services available on Roku provides a way for individuals to gather together for worship in their homes, that doesn’t require huddling around a computer screen or complicated PC-to-TV hookups.” It puts the number of channel downloads above 5000.

The Georgia-based Community Bible Church (CBC) is also now online; ditching cable, it upgraded its technology and started to stream its online, launching its own Roku channel. Pastor Snow, CBC says, “The simplicity and low cost of Roku has really opened up a lot of doors for people to reach out to people right from their homes.” CBC says its channel has been downloaded more than 6000 times. In fact Roku is very attractive to smaller churches as it comes without big costs. In some cases, worshipers have taken the matter into their own hands and have built their own apps like the unofficial Mormon app.

The Catholic Church too has started to embrace technology and in February 2011 launched an iPhone and iPad app to allow worshippers to confess to a virtual priest; ‘Confession: A Roman Catholic App’, is available through iTunes priced at £1.19 ($1.93). Pope Benedict XVI himself has encouraged priests to get involved in at least one aspect of online ministry, whether blogs, podcasts or something else. So, it seems there’s a lot of opportunity here for the faithful and the word of God is now near a channel near you.

Photo Credit: ©Dr Neil Clifton@Creative Commons Licence