Why Some Churches Are Turning to Smartphones for Worship Service

The COVID-19 pandemic has made technology essential to collective religious life. Livestreamed services, viewed from home, are the new normal. But a new study from Duke University shows the number of congregations employing technology during worship services was on the rise even before the pandemic struck.

The 2018-19 National Congregations Study, conducted on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic, found, among other things, broad use of smartphones during worship services. Congregations encourage their audiences to use their smartphones for everything from reading Scripture to tweeting about services to donating money to the cause.

Three Studies of Congregations

This story cites one of three new research studies published by Chaves and several co-authors using data from the most recent wave of the National Congregations Study, a nationally representative sample of congregations across the religious spectrum. Roughly 1,200 leaders of churches, synagogues, mosques, and Hindu and Buddhist temples were interviewed for the survey, which Chaves has directed since its inception in 1998.

All three studies will appear in the December 2020 issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. One, examining racial diversity in American congregations, is available now in DukeSpace, the online repository of Duke open source scholarship

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