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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Wi-Fi Enabled Church

Is your church connected? Many churches are now experimenting with wi-fi (wireless computer networks) to offer online access to sermon notes and service notes LIVE. Here's how it works, according to Andrew Jones of TallSkinnyKiwi.com:

1. A church installs a WiFi transmitter, probably because they want wireless access to the internet for their staff who are in multiple offices.

2. It gets left on during the weekend. Young people and professionals, always searching for a wifi signal, discover that they can connect during church.

3. During the Sunday service, people arrive early to get the best seats - those next to a power outlet. Some church members think they are taking notes from the ministers sermon. Others know better.

4. The minister decides that instead of banning wifi usage during the teaching, he (or she) should actually take advantage of the technology. The minister uploads files related to the message, creates journeys of discovery and learning for the technologically advantaged to follow (to stop them digressing from the message)

5. The minsister creates a public folder on his or her computer with resources related to the message.

6. If the WiFi warriors are too much of a distraction, a special room is created in the back. In the meantime, the techies are sharing space in the crying room or the hall way, both of which will need more power sockets. But if it is not allowed in the sanctuary, why not have a dedicated space . . and with coffee, comfortable chairs and tables. Tables will allow people to track the teaching as a group - thus preventing people going off to read movie reviews or download games.

7. The minister decides that since so many people are tracking with him in his message, he finds a way to allow the congregation to make comments, suggest links to other Bible passages, or put up prayer requests, all in real time. If powerpoint is too static, a program that allows a message to be posted to the internet and commented on would work better.

8. Some of the men come back to church. They can listen to the message and do whatever they need to do online at the same time - this will include making notes, changing schedule, looking up websites. This already happens at some churches with old media - such as notebooks, journals, diaries, etc - no reason why it would not happen with new media.

9. House churches can track with other house churches in real time through video conferencing, and they can also post prayer requests and announcements for other house churches.

10. House churches within a few miles of each other can share the same signal through directional transmitters which are quite cheap.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear what you think... Has your church added a wi-fi service? Have you attended a service like this? Please add your comments by clicking the link below...

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October 13, 2004 in Technology in the Church | Permalink

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Sounds like the purpose of the church mtg. is lost. Instead of being the body of christ meeting and helping each other, and fellowshipping, it is now a lecture or school... more and more impersonal...

This wi-fi would be great for a classroom, but for the fellowship of believers??? Maybe they could also create sim characters to relate to each other... (just kidding, don't take it seriously!)


Posted by: bernie dehler | Oct 13, 2004 11:39:44 AM

I would have a hard time with allowing a wifi service replace a "live" in person service. However I could see where this use of technology would really bring the next generation back into church.

I think the difficulty many people would have with this is the same problem we have with society in general. We as a culture are becoming less personal, less connected (I mean really connected not IM connected), and less relational.

There is no replacement for physical connectedness and the value of positive touch in the lives of humans. We are created for it, we are "wired" for it.

I don't think wifi should be banned, but lets be smart about how we use it as a tool in the church.

Posted by: David Curtis | Oct 13, 2004 1:23:53 PM

I think this a great idea. "Q" Church in Seattle Washington is WiFi-ed during the week. The joy of wi-fi is its interactivity, which seems to me is core with the Gospel. The challenge as I see it now is having a support staff that can enable this because most of us geezers love the concept, but get wrapped up in the implementation.

Posted by: Don Johnson | Oct 13, 2004 6:35:16 PM

We've recently gotten Wi-Fied at our church, and really didn't pay it much attention until a parishioner asked was there are wireless connection in the church, because as she was taking notes utilizing her E-Sword software her instant messengers came on and persons in her friends list were sending her messages.

Now with this information I've read, we will utilize this to our advantage and incorporate some things related to the messages and teaching series.

Never thought much about this until now...

Posted by: Pastor Kevin | Oct 14, 2004 3:36:17 PM

I think Wi-Fi set up in the church is a great idea. I do not agree with the concept put forward in the article.

The church is a great place for this to occur, but not during a worship and preaching service. Gen-X and following enjoy technology, but it is a tool, not bait. If you are going to use technology, then use it as a tool in imparting the message, sharing information in the church and community. However, if you think baiting us with "new technology" you are sorely mistaken, as more retail outlets are doing it bigger and better.

However, if technology is simply present for people to decide how to employ it or not, that is more inviting.

My church has wi-fi set up throughout the church, but not in the sanctuary. We actually built a new building and added a small coffeehouse that is open from 11am to 9pm. The area around it has tables, chairs, and couches. People from the area businesses will meet at our church to discuss business. Students from the area high schools and colleges will study there. All the while, many of them have their computers up and they are surfing, checking email, downloading study or work materials, etc.

I think this is a good use of technology. It does not interfere with worship service nor distract others during worship. But it does bring people in to visit the church, even when services are not being held. Granted they might not be Christians nor come to service, but if they find a refuge in the church, they are being exposed to an environment that could foster their coming to a relationship with Christ.

Posted by: Sean | Oct 14, 2004 4:44:11 PM

Wireless internet useage is extremely useful to my generation (I am 22). I applaud the implementation of Wi-Fi expressed by these men. However, I am a little worried about the firewall that protects the connection. There is a church in Dallas that boasts of the blockage of pornography and gambling, but I am skeptical. I think that Wi-Fi would be a great help to the people of my generation, but I also think the Church must realize the real temptations that will make themselves available with the new technology.

Posted by: Chris | Oct 15, 2004 9:20:08 AM

Wireless is a useful tool. As one that does information security for a living, i also see it as a vulnerability and liability. Not that I would run netstumber in a neighborhood to see who is broadcasting. If it is left open without any security, the system can become just another Zombie.

On the other side, wireless is also justified by business case. We have wep keys and other simple things to keep people from abscounding free internet or hijacking the network. Our biggest threat is always from the alleged trusted user.

If I was given wireless access during the service, my mouse would be instantly drawn to the internet explorer icon.

To effectively meet the goal of sharing files, seeing the sermon notes, dropping notes into a prayer request directory, a standalone wireless network could be installed. A single box with an access point. No internet connectivity. No internet access? Harsh? Yes. Effective. Yes.

Wireless is an effective technology. Properly installed and configured, it enhances the business case.

Posted by: ks | Oct 21, 2004 12:37:10 AM

We've been discussing this over at osministry.com here http://osministry.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=611&hl=

Posted by: Marcus | Feb 24, 2005 4:44:16 PM

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