NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Many of today’s churches feature a unique juxtaposition between the traditions of the past and the ever-changing tides of the future. Hymnals share sanctuary space with large, multimedia screens; monthly newsletters hit mailboxes days after e-mail updates reach inboxes; and brick and mortar church signs advertise websites loaded with information.
A majority of Protestant ministers in a recent survey conducted for LifeWay Christian Resources by Ellison Research said they expect technology to play an important role in their churches’ mission throughout the next five years. Seventy-nine percent of large church ministers, for example, placed importance on their church maintaining a website and 75 percent said communicating with their congregations via e-mail will gain importance. Additionally, 66 percent reported that using PowerPoint or other graphics during worship will become significant.
Unfortunately, seeing a need for technology and knowing how to implement that technology are two completely different issues.
“Technology is not the most important thing,” said Marcus Carruthers, a former minister of technology at First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark. “But it is a tool.”
Carruthers recently began helping other ministries use that tool as part of the new LifeWay Consulting Practice based at the Southern Baptist entity.
Gary McClure, marketing manager in LifeWay’s e-business department, said LifeWay frequently receives inquiries from churches regarding the use of websites and e-mail. “It’s no secret that an effective website is one of the most important communications tools available to churches,” he said. “Whether built to serve a church’s congregation or to serve as a community outreach, a website is the biggest front door into that ministry.”
In mid-2005, all these inquiries led to the creation of the LifeWay Consulting Practice, a service to help churches “minimize the hassles and highlight the opportunities of technology in ministry,” according to the website.
The LifeWay Consulting Practice provided a perfect opportunity for Carruthers to share his expertise and ministering spirit with churches beyond First Baptist Springdale.
“My heart is to help churches in their ministry to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world,” Carruthers said. “I want to help ministries be successful in their mission and ultimately in the Great Commission.”
Carruthers arrived at the Springdale congregation about seven years ago when pastor Ronnie Floyd recruited him to put the church on technology’s “cutting edge.”
Joel Edwards, the church’s current director of technology, said many of the services and programs Carruthers started continue to meet or exceed the needs and expectations of First Baptist.
“Marcus brought all of the technology to our church,” Edwards said. “He made us much more aware that technology is another tool for teaching the Gospel.”
Among the many technological features Carruthers established while serving at First Baptist, Edwards said perhaps the most impressive addition was the implementation of bidirectional video. This allowed attendees at First Baptist’s satellite campus, The Church at Pinnacle Hills, to view simulcasts of live services taking place 26 miles away at the main campus.
Carruthers’ time at First Baptist involved developing a technical infrastructure from scratch. He worked to design a budget plan, campus network, filtered Internet service, education and training plan, CD/DVD development and many other technology elements.
As a consultant with LifeWay Consulting Practice, Carruthers can take his Springdale and other prior experiences to ministries throughout the country. LifeWay Consulting Practice provides coaching and assistance for establishing a multi-site church, supporting a radio or television ministry, connecting staff and members via e-mail, obtaining community demographics and accomplishing countless other tasks.
At the beginning of most projects, much of the consultant’s work will be accomplished on-site at the church. As the projects reach completion, some support can then be provided through remote access.
While the primary focus of LifeWay Consulting Practice is technology-related assistance, the service also can help churches expand in almost any area of ministry.
“LifeWay has numerous resources available to aid churches by complementing the technology work,” McClure said. “This saves the church the hassle of engaging multiple entities to handle their consulting needs.”
McClure said LifeWay Consulting Practice is prepared to assist in the planning and implementation of nearly any technology project; however, the most important aspect of the service is its emphasis on teaching the ministry along the way.
“In addition to planning and execution, the church is taught how the solution was derived and how to address the need in the future,” McClure noted.
For more information about the LifeWay Consulting Practice, visit LifeWay.com/consulting or call 1-888-408-5580.