(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
In her 12 years with media ministry at Cape First in Cape Girardeau, Amanda Starks has seen an increase in technology use in a church setting.
"I've definitely seen a rise just in 10 or 12 years with what we started, with to what we have now," Starks said.
Cape First uses a variety of channels to reach it's congregation outside of weekly services.
"Our website is huge," Starks said.
In addition to basic information such as service times and contact information, the website provides visitors with access to live streaming of their services and podcasts featuring weekly audio messages.
According to Starks, they also use social media avenues such as Facebook and Twitter to reach members. The church itself has a Facebook page, but so do all the separate ministries.
"Facebook is a community in itself," Starks said. "For us it is a huge way to share what is going on."
During services, Cape First uses cameras and projectors to project worship lyrics and graphics during the pastor's sermon. Starks said they also have a video welcome and inspirational testimony.
"We have a lot of media aspects that we jam in there," Starks said.
Starks said the purpose of this in-service technology is not to distract from the message, only to enhance it.
"In certain situations having too much media in services can distract," Starks said. "I never want it to be the focus."
The Rev. Ron Watts, pastor of La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, said they have always used technology.
During services at La Croix, video screens and projectors are used in addition to lighting and sound. The sound man uses an iPad to mix sound from different areas in the church.
"We are very technology-driven in worships," said Watts, who has served as pastor at the church for 24 years.
Starting with last night's service and continuing today, La Croix is hosting a Text Me Weekend. During these services the congregation texts questions on any subject relating to the Christian faith to Watts, with the questions projected on a screen. This was the second year for the event, which was inspired by similar events conducted by other churches across the country.
"My talk that day is exclusively me answering people's questions," Watts said.
Outside of services, Watts said they use their website and Facebook to reach the congregation. He also sends out an e-note to members.
"We are finding that for some people that is the main avenue of communication," Watts said. "Some people today don't hardly check their email and the only way we can reach them is through Facebook."
While technology has its benefits, Watts said it also has weakness. In regards to social media, he said Facebook can sometimes limit the amount of communication. He also said technologies used during services are not always reliable.
"You live by the technology sword, you die by the technology sword," Watts said.
"We will venture into new forms of technology if helpful," Watts said.
According to Jason Huskey, contemporary worship leader at Bethany Baptist in Cape Girardeau, the majority of their technology use happens during services. However, he said the church does have a Facebook page and the pastor and youth leader use Facebook to communicate with members.
During services, he said they use a variety of sound equipment, lights and a presentation software used to display Bible versus on a screen in the sanctuary. Huskey also uses an iPad while leading worship music.
"The main reason I use that is because it connects wirelessly to the mixer up in the balcony," Huskey said.
In addition to operating the sound mixer, Huskey is able to read his sermon notes and play instruments from the iPad.
"It makes everything easier," Huskey said.
Bethany Baptist recently began using wireless in-ear monitors for performers. This means they no longer need speakers on the stage.
"With the in-ear monitors, each performer has their own mix right in their own ears," Huskey said. "The audience just hears a really clean sound from the house system."
Currently the church only has house lights in their sanctuary, but Huskey said he thought that would be the next technology to receive an update. However, he is happy with their current sound system.
"As far as the sound system goes, I think we've got it where we want it right now," Huskey said. "What we have right now is reliable."
The Rev. Brian Anderson, pastor of Crossroads Fellowship in Jackson, said the church uses quite a bit of technology during services. He uses a Bible application for his iPad, which he preaches from during services.
"In some ways it is easier to follow with that," Anderson said.
Crossroads Fellowship also uses a Facebook page and website to reach out to members. Anderson said the use of social media allows people to be social, which is an important part of church life.
"I think people feel more connected to the church in a lot of ways," Anderson said.
According to Anderson, social media is the only technology that has changed at the church since it was established nine years ago. He said they plan to keep up with the changing technologies.
"Why not use technology that makes us more effective in communicating the Gospels?" Anderson said.