1 July 2009

Religion and Technology Divide

Faith-based groups (meaning the full range of formal and informal religious communities) are among the most active social sector organizations in many parts of the world. If religious orgs are serious about building and enhancing community, why are they so behind in leveraging the latest and greatest technology tools to do so? And if nonprofit and do-gooder techies are serious about social change, why aren't they tapping into some of the largest and most effective community-based organizations out there – which are faith-based? It's a missed opportunity IMHO [Note: social media jargon for In My Humble Opinion].

Fortunately there are some murmurings. A couple of weeks ago, Time magazine ran a story on U.S. churches using Twitter during their regular services. And the online virtual world of Second Life is fertile ground for a whole range of active faith based communities from across the religious spectrum. You may want to check out this Guided Tour of Spirituality in Second Life.

There are a few great postings on Church 2.0 offering an overview of some of the most cutting edge and technology-relevant happenings that involve faith-based communities in the United States. But they are an exception to the rule. Many traditional religious institutions are experiencing a decline in membership among youth - perhaps in part because they don't fully understand how to communicate in a changed world? Take a look at the official website of the Catholic Church, representing one of the largest religions in the world, and you'll know what I mean.

I sense a lot of fear among traditional religious institutions around embracing and leveraging technology change. And the silence is deafening from the technology community on how new tools and technologies can be leveraged to support the rich and important spiritual practices of people all over the world – not to mention to support the incredible social action work of religious communities on the ground.

So in an attempt to walk the talk I am launching a "Technology & Spiritual Practice" program, designed to help faith-based communities make the leap into the brave new world of technology and social media, and to start a dialogue between spiritual leaders and technologists. But we need your help…

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