UK Church Utilizes Tech to Increase Worship Participation

Christopher Benek

Aylsham Parish Church in Norfolk, UK has begun using an app to increase engagement in weekly worship. A voting app, typically used in business settings, has been employed to allow the vicar to ask questions of the congregation in real time. Parishioners are able to more actively participate in worship by providing feedback that allows church leadership to better understand, and be responsive to, congregants' likes and needs.

The church, which is one of 12 parishes that comprise the Aylsham and District Team ministry, began the using the app, developed by the Swedish company Mentimeter, to engage current attendees while also providing a way to garner a better understanding of the developing needs of younger generations of church goers. Congregants are able to use the app from their own smartphones and tablets.

The application encourages participants to respond to live polling that allows church leadership to better understand if people are comprehending what they are being taught in worship as a way to avoid disconnect. Such polling applications are commonly utilized in university settings to create measurable data points for educational improvement. The data provided allows for adaptive teaching methods to be more effectively utilized.

Additionally, the church also employs the app in other ways as well. It provides a way to invite its worshipers to give feedback as to what hymns resonate with them. It also allow worshipers to offer words and phrases in real-time that create word clouds that help the clergy to direct the times of prayer toward the immediate concerns of the congregation. These words and phrases then show up on a screen to allow the congregation to see the community needs as well.

The Reverend Canon Andrew Beane, who serves the Aylsham Parish Church, told E&T Magazine that “Sometimes you can ask a question and people are shy, but by using the app, everybody joins in.”

While the app itself has not brought people into the church, Beane says that it has increased the intergenerational interaction within the church, thereby strengthening its ministries.

“I would like to think it’s pioneering,” he said. “We’re holding on to the traditional but embracing new technology to make it more relevant to society today.”

Aylsham Parish Church is part of The Church of England.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What do you think might be the benefits or drawbacks of using such technology in churches?

Q2. How do you think that proper uses of technology in churches might increase community building?

Q3. What other participatory technologies do you believe churches should begin to actively use in worship to help create a better overall experience?