November 12, 2015—Karl Barth said to read the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. Well, these days we do both in one hand, on one device. A smart phone, a tablet, a laptop. One device to connect to the world, to each other, and to the divine.
I am a PCUSA pastor serving a church in San Francisco. For us, our first encounter with Christ is online. Without fail, each visitor who walks into our church found us on Yelp or through Google. One search for “evening worship” or “progressive theology” in San Francisco and there we are: Mission Bay Community Church.
Depending on your curiosity level, you might spend a few minutes looking over our Yelp reviews or wandering through our website. Within minutes, you’ve seen our faces, our worship, our camping retreat, our temporary tattoos. You’ve seen us. You’ve experienced us. You see Christ through us.
When I left Columbia Theological Seminary to take this call in San Francisco, I knew I was signing up for more education. Faith in San Francisco takes unique shape and so I knew I had much to learn from my congregation. In the last few years, they have taught me the ways of Silicon Valley and stretched me to “catch up with the [tech] times.” In fact, I returned from my sabbatical in September to a few elders who had taken my permission seriously to lead the church and had designed a new church logo, website and app. I smiled, thanked God and thought to myself, “There really is an app for everything.”
These elders knew of eChurch, a software company that offers apps and a modern donation collection service to churches. You provide the content and they design the app. Our app “Mission Bay Community Church” is available through Google Play and at the Apple Store. It’s free and available to anyone for use. It has a Bible, calendar, church stories, sermon podcasts and social media posts. It gives you a way to financially support the ministry of our church. My favorite feature is a prayer wall. Throughout the week, you can post a prayer and know that this church community is holding you in prayer.
The church app is a hub for our community. It serves the real need for us to connect with scripture, with each other and with the divine 24/7. It also allows anyone, anywhere, who has access to a device and ability to open an app, to jump into our community and commune with Christ.
As we explore how technology is playing a role in our congregation, we strive to stay relevant and accessible. If you’re interested in setting up an app for your congregation, eChurch Pushpay has offered a free month of service to anyone who signs up through this link. Be sure you mention you heard about them through Mission Bay Community Church!
Rev. Dawn Martin Hyde (MDiv ’12) is pastor of Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco, CA. Read more of her blogposts here. Check out her church community online or search for the app in the App Store or Google Play.