Despite the ubiquity of smartphones and digital transactions, many churches still haven't embraced digital church solutions out of fear of how it will affect older members. Physical practices like passing the plate, communicating through direct mail and making in-person visits still work fine, so why would they change anything?
“Our congregation is too old to learn new technology,” some may say. … If the majority of your congregation is resistant to a change and they represent the lion’s share of your church’s giving, you need a very compelling reason to make that change. But what so many older churches don’t realize is that their senior members aren’t actually resistant to digital solutions. In fact, they’re already using them, and they wish you did too.
This isn’t hoopla from a tech company. It’s a growing trend that organizations like Barna Research Group has been documenting for years, and it’s a reality to which banks and other businesses have already adapted.
Older members already use technology
According to the latest data from Pew Research Center, 81% of American adults now own a smartphone, including 79% of adults between 50 and 64 years old and 53% of adults who are 65 or older.
But older Americans don’t just own smartphones. They use them. In 2019, Pew Research Center found that 73% of seniors use the internet and 40% use social media.
Among those who use the internet, 75% said they use it daily, 51% use it several times a day and 8% say they use it constantly. As of 2019, Americans 60 years+ spent an average of four hours and 16 minutes per day in front of a screen.
In fact, seniors have become so familiar with smartphones that most of them actually wish their church had more digital solutions. In 2017, a survey found that 58% of church members between 66 and 74 said that they would prefer to give digitally.
Dependence for staying connected
When suddenly everyone can’t attend services in person, as we all experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating a digital experience isn’t just a concession but vital to your church’s continued operations. And if passing the plate is the only way to give (or the only way your church members know how to give), then digital solutions could be key to your church’s survival.
But it shouldn’t take a national crisis for us to recognize the importance of modern church technology. Especially when you consider the ways digital solutions can uniquely serve your eldest church members.
Life changes like moving to a nursing home and adjusting to mobility limits are more likely to impact elderly church members. Churches with aging members should be more attuned to how technology can facilitate church digitally — not less.
At the very least, you should have options on your website for livestreaming and digital giving. But a robust church app is even better because it allows you to make these core functions highly visible, while also serving as a hub to everything else you want church members to be able to access:
- Small group materials
- Contact cards
- Fill-in-the-blank notes
- Blog posts and announcements
An older congregation needs more support but not less technology. You may have to demonstrate how things are done more than once. It will take patience, grace and empathy. But for aging church members who can’t attend in person and those who care about the future of your mission, adding more technology will be the difference to make it more than worth it.
Pushpay builds world-class digital giving solutions and custom smartphone apps designed for faith-based organizations.