Impact of digital technology on religion

The Easter weekend is  a sacrosanct period for christian religion.

This period is used to commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ that took place during the 1st century AD.

There are going to be pilgrimages across the world to various holy places, and South Africa will be joining in.

ZCC Easter Pilgrimage – Moria

We know that religion is as old as life itself, and a lot has been written about it by many scholars and other people most qualified on this subject.

So, if knowledge of religion was the only criterion, we would not touch this subject.

However, our observation of the impact of digital technology on religion cannot be avoided, and this is what we focus on in this post.

In our attempt to treat the subject with the grace it deserves, 4 of our eNitiaters were invited to provoke thought under selected topics, as indicated here below. You are welcome to read one, some or all of the covered topics.

You are also invited to give your own thoughts in the allocated Comment section at the end of this post.

Table of Contents

Digital Technology and Charismatic Churches

By Zuki Ndingaye

Technology in religion is fast becoming a popular thing.

Churches, religious leaders and church attendants have also reacted with confidence and faith to a world that is fast becoming digital and tech-savvy.

The early stages of this technological growth came in the form of bible apps.

Companies have converted the bible into a digital eBook where believers can consume their religious messages, make notes, tags and save verses to read later.

The bible has sold millions of copies on the web and in app stores. But just like any industry, this was not enough, and there had to be some innovation. Churches and believers needed more out of these apps.

They need videos, audio and downloadable content that can be enjoyed at home if one couldn’t make it to church.

Church apps are the new trend.

Churches have created apps where believers don’t even have to attend sermons anymore.

You can argue that this was always happening in the form of television and I will argue that not all people can afford subscription based TV but most people have a cellphone, and with smartphone penetration increasing, so are the means to connect to the internet.

Let’s give this blog a South African twist.

I am a faithful attendant of Rivers church in Johannesburg and I have also downloaded their church app.

The church app includes information about the church, events, access to their digital content and much much more.

Rivers doesn’t want to completely stop the in-church-sermon that’s why their content comes in small packages of between 5 and 10 minutes.

This allows for the user to get the rest of the message in church and ‘feel the atmosphere of Christ”.

Technology in religion has helped churches advance and become more user orientated.

Churches have embraced the technology that has seen users flock to Android and Apple products and put their content there.

That is where users are and now their religion is accessible at their fingertips.

Digital Technology and Traditional Churches

By Tina Nakanyika

“Woe to you technology!”- Charismatic churches and religion

It’s been interesting to witness the transition of religion and just Christianity as a whole, over the years.

Technology has had a huge impact on the spread of the Gospel (amongst other things) but just like anything great out there, it has its pros and cons and so it’s only fair to say it has been embraced by many but also been rejected by a greater number as well.

Let’s take traditional charismatic churches for instance.

I know most are still very much comfortable with keeping traditions alive as far as technology is concerned.

With Easter coming up can you picture the Pope making use of an iPad during MASS instead of the BIBLE?

An iPad at the Altar(known to be the most sacred place in the church)?

I doubt that will EVER happen though. But why are certain churches so against embracing the use of technology when it is so evident how other churches are encouraging their congregation to get involved in the churches by engaging via social platforms.

Here’s an article  I read about how certain devices are allowing us the freedom to practice religion ‘freely’.

However this has been a worry for some religious leaders as they feel attention is diverted to other things because of the nature of these devices.

The church does not get full participation.

I suppose it’s a matter of walking into church, being there and later logging onto the church’s page to pay attention to what you missed out on because honestly I doubt that even before the impact of technology kicked in one could control that, it’s a choice and its always been a choice.

It’s either you are there to pay attention and hear the WORD or you are not, it’s been that simple for the longest time now.

Churches have gone on a “rampage” to make sure reaching out to people via social platforms is actually working as seen in this Catholic Church’s video clip,at a much greater rate compared to the old ways of sending missionaries out(I am so tempted to mention names here but I won’t) going from door to door.

Churches simply do not have the budget for that sort of thing anymore, or do they?

Because this topic has proven to be quite interesting I went on to ask via my Facebook account what people had to say regarding , “the role of digital technology in religion?” a few people’s responses were;

BatsiraiMusuka” non-academic personal opinion: Tech is ever-changing and viewed as transient, religion is seen as unwavering or unchanging.

These factors could have some subconscious effect to the acceptance of tech into the church.

A simpler way of looking at it is through the age gap argument.

The church is usually led by the elder generation who might not have quite caught up to tech advances”.

ChiedzaMadziwa “Quicker references with gadgets,keep up with preacher,plus i don’t know where most books are…

It’s just convenient.”

It’s been so interesting to get so many opinions from different people regarding this, but one thing that I concluded was that all the responses pretty much summed up “CONVENIENCE” in this regard.

Here’s an interesting podcast from one of the senior pastors at Impact Leaders Church 

Click on this CNN link to read more about what other bloggers are saying about this topic.


By Vince Lehata

Charismatic churches are known for a lot of… charisma.

Some have even labeled the charismatic churches as “moneymaking”,  “magic schemes” with opulent pastors.

In defense of the church, some have gone on to say the church’s role is to be a leader in the community when it comes to good moral standing. 

Well then its no surprise to see how trend of social media & technology at large has found its way to the alter.

Churches now have Facebook & Twitter accounts, championed by the senior pastors.

Churchgoers also tweet snippets of the message while in church.

The bible can also be downloaded onto mobile devices.

Here is my take on the whole agenda; daily lives of individuals revolve around their mobile devices as it makes them feel in touch with every aspect of their lives.

The world is evolving to be paperless, hence when the bible can be viewed on screen instead of carrying the hard copy, most have chosen the latter.

Your Version is the leading Bible app.

Can I get an App-leluyah to that!!!

To date it has been downloaded for iPhone over a 135* million times, with 809 versions available and 528 languages supported.

*And counting

Some churches have tailor-made apps for their congregations to access sermons on web TV and to keep updated with relevant content.

G-dcast is a new media production company that creates digital content to advance the Jewish faith system by designing app, video games and interactive user experiences.

Charismatic churches and their followers have been known to be rather colourful in contrast to the more conservative denominational churches.

I overheard colleagues of mine chatting about how one “charismatic church “ in Sebokeng goes to the extent of having Pocket POS (Pocket Point Of Sales) to get the member to swipe their credit cards for offering.

Apparently even cellphone banking is accepted.

The conservative churches are not so far behind though, selfies are also making their way into the Vatican…nonetheless new media (and technology) are part of society so the church will not escape from the influences that affect the people because church is the its people.

Digital Future of The Bible

By Nomvula Seyama

One of the first ways to deliver written religious messages was engraving of symbols on rocks during ancient times.

Throughout the centuries the discovery of ink and dye made it possible for people to document their messages on scrolls which were made out of papyrus plant.

One of the first ever written books was the bible and they soon became a popular read among people.

Booksellers distributed copies of the bible professionally in the middle ages, which required hours of hand written manuscripts.

However in today’s day and age technology has provided a more convenient ways of accessing any form of content.

All they have to do is go online and download a book on their devices.

The evolution of technology has provided easy access and engagement with content by different people, in different languages and different cultures.

The bible is one of thee most downloaded books of all time.

It is a book that has been translated into different languages.

Digital technology has made it possible for people to access “the book of life” through apps.

Every time we “personalize” these apps, highlighting or sharing favourite scriptures, we influence the improvement of the technology of religious apps.

Many people argue that technology will be responsible for paper written bibles being replaced by e-Bibles.

However, I believe that social media apps have made the bible readily available to people and daily scriptures have encouraged people to read the word.

e-Bibles cannot replace the bible but create opportunity to enhance or amplify our religious expression.

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