Driver of Change

Technology & Digital Age

Overview

The increased rate of change being experienced by individuals and organizations is largely connected to the significant technological advances experienced over the past 30 years.

Across sectors technology has advanced and progressed beyond what was thought possible. From the emergence of autonomous driving vehicles, the development of facial recognition software, the rise of 3D printing and the advancement of neuroscience, technology is changing and transforming our world. The disruption caused by technology has been a constant throughout the history of humanity and within the Christian church. Whether it the steam engine which started the industrial revolution, the printing press which mobilize the teaching of Martin Luther (the birth of Protestantism), or the adoption of innovative and technologically advanced musical instruments, such as the pipe organ, the church has participated, engaged, and navigated technological advances since Jesus ascended into heaven. While churches and Christian leaders do not need to adopt all technology around us, it does influence and shape the world and individual’s lives. 

Macro Trends

Access to Information

Trend Description
Since the emergence of the internet, accessibility to information has grown rapidly. With the advent of the smartphone, we now have access to a seemingly unlimited amount of content and information.

Reflective Question
How can local churches engage with and support congregants to navigate the mass amount of online content?

Access to Information

Generative Artificial Intelligence

Trend Description
Artificial intelligence aims to develop algorithms and technologies that can perceive, reason, learn, and make decisions in a way that mimics or emulates human intelligence.

Reflective Question
As the world around us engages with AI, how can the church consider using AI as a tool for its mission? What are the theological considerations when thinking about a machine being able to ‘think’?

Generative Artificial Intelligence

Digitalization

Trend Description
Digitalization involves turning information into computer code for easy storage and processing. This change brings about more efficiency and connects us through technologies like the internet and smart devices, making life and work simpler.

Reflective Question
How can the integration of digitalization enhance our church’s ability to connect with and serve our community, while still staying true to our core values and mission?

Digitalization

Technological Determinism

Trend Description
Technological Determinism is the belief that technology independently drives societal changes, shaping cultural norms and historical progress. It suggests that the development and adoption of technology plays a pivotal role in determining the course of human behavior and community evolution.

Reflective Question
In the face of technology shaping societal changes, how can we intentionally leverage these advancements to enhance our ministry, while ensuring that our spiritual values remain at the forefront of our mission and community connections?

Technological Determinism

Social Media

Trend Description
This trend refers to the widespread use of digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, revolutionizing global communication, information sharing, and community building.

Reflective Question
How do church leaders address the potential risks and pitfalls of social media, ensuring that its use aligns with our spiritual values?

Social Media

Rise of ‘Fake News'

Rise of ‘Fake News’

Trend Description
The term ‘fake news’ is a highly politicized term and often refers to news outlets fabricating or sharing false stories. However, it has been used to discredit potentially true reporting and cast doubt on some media organizations.

Reflective Question
How can churches theologically and biblically discern online spaces?

Misinformation

Misinformation

Trend Description
Refers to the sharing of false or misleading information, often unintentionally or without malicious intent. It involves the sharing of inaccurate or deceptive content that can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and the spread of incorrect beliefs.

Reflective Question
How can church leaders address misinformation within their local congregations, particularly about theological topics?

Lack of accountability

Lack of accountability

Trend Description
Much of today’s online content can be shared anonymously resulting in lack of accountability for those sharing content. Additionally, as there is so much content being shared the ‘news cycle’ has shortened, resulting in lack of accountability for potentially controversial content as it is quickly forgotten.

Reflective Question
How do churches be accountable for their online presence and sharing of content?

Micro Trends

Openness to change and engage with new technology (Covid-19)

Trend Description
The Covid-19 pandemic showed that churches can engage with new technology.

Reflective Question
How can churches continue to engage in emerging technology and broader social change?

Openness to change and engage with new technology (Covid-19)

Online Living

Trend Description
This trend encompasses the pervasive integration of digital technologies into various aspects of daily life. It reflects the increasing reliance on the internet and digital platforms for communication, work, education, entertainment, and social interaction

Reflective Question
In this digital age, how can churches leverage online platforms to strengthen spiritual connections, foster meaningful relationships, and share faith authentically while staying true to Christian principles?

Online Living

Virtual reality

Virtual reality

Trend Description
Virtual Reality immerses users in computer-generated environments through headsets, providing a three-dimensional, interactive experience widely used in gaming, education, and training.

Reflective Question
How does the incorporation of Virtual Reality in spiritual practices align with theological understanding of worship, community, and the sacraments?

Metaverse

Metaverse

Trend Description
The Metaverse is a digital universe that merges physical and virtual realities, offering a seamless online space for users to socialize, work, and explore together in a connected virtual environment.

Reflective Question
In the creation and engagement within a church oriented Metaverse space, what ethical considerations should be addressed to ensure a safe, respectful, and inclusive online community that upholds the values and teachings of the church?

Augmented reality

Augmented reality

Trend Description
Augmented Reality enhances real-world experiences by overlaying digital information onto the physical environment, often experienced through devices like smartphones or smart glasses

Reflective Question
How can AR be employed to deepen our understanding of sacred spaces and rituals within a theological framework?

Personal Content consumption

Trend Description
This trend refers to how individuals consume and curate news and content via social media and the internet. It is a broad emerging area of interest which highlights how individuals navigate vast amounts of information and what they consume.

Reflective Question
How do churches grow in awareness of what type of information we are consuming?

Personal Content consumption

Hyper Connection

Hyper Connection

Trend Description
The micro trend of hyper connection highlights the growing state of constant online connectivity through smartphones and social media, influencing personal relationships, work dynamics, and societal norms.

Reflective Question
In a world of constant digital interaction, what intentional steps can be taken to ensure meaningful engagement and prioritize the well-being of our community members?

Parasocial Interaction

Parasocial Interaction

Trend Description
This trend refers to individuals building psychological relationships with online personalities.

Reflective Question
How do churches support healthy online engagement?

Social media influencer as ‘expert’

Social media influencer as ‘expert’

Trend Description
Connected to ‘fake news’, individuals historically considered experts (academics, journalists, pastors, etc.) are no longer considered authoritative simply because of title. Social media influencers who are followed by thousands of individuals now have high levels of influence, while holding very little level of expertise outside of their own experience and thoughts.

Reflective Question
How can we navigate and engage with the emergence of various sources of influence on congregants?

Ecclesial Trends

Online Church

Trend Description
The Covid-19 pandemic restricted our ability to meet in large person events, and as a result many churches moved to online gatherings.

Reflective Question
How can churches create community in online spaces?

Online Church

Influence of social media ‘echo chamber’

Trend Description
Social media platforms utilize algorithms that personalize content based on users’ preferences and behavior, which can stunt our engagement with content outside of our own perspective.

Reflective Question
What is the danger of churches and congregants getting caught in an ‘echo chamber’?

Influence of social media ‘echo chamber’

Reflective Questions

What theological considerations should guide our use of technology in Sunday morning worship services and faith formation?

In what ways can technology enhance or hinder the sense of authentic community and fellowship within your congregation?

What strategies can we implement to ensure that technology complements, rather than replaces, deep engagement with the Bible?

How can we integrate discussions about responsible technology use and digital discipleship into our teaching and pastoral care?

How can technology be employed to ensure that our church services, resources, and teachings are accessible to individuals with diverse abilities and backgrounds?

What theological considerations should guide our use of technology in Sunday morning worship services and faith formation?

Related Horizon Resources 

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