Tech Savvy Church Hopes To Bring In the 'Nones'

With podcasts, YouTube videos and social media galore, one Upper Dublin church hopes to show a younger generation what religion can be.

Podcasts. YouTube. Facebook Likes. They aren't really the terms one hears during the Sunday Sermon. But, that's rather precisely the point.

Upper Dublin Lutheran Church is hoping that by bringing its religion into the modern times, it can help to reach different generations with its teachings.

Lead Pastor Dyan Lawlor credits her fellow pastor, Keith Anderson, and the youth minister Ray Hopkins, for most of the modernization of her congregation.

"I've been here nine years," said Lawlor. "I have ideas, things I'd like to have happening, and then I find out who can do it."

Among the new ideas, the church has begun posting the weekly sermons onto the website. Podcasts of the lessons are each availble, free of charge, for download from the church.

Lawlor said the church's leaders realize every person can't make it to services every week. Instead of focusing on how to get folks into the doors, her church has figured out how to bring the church out into the community, instead.

Can't make a bible study? Don't worry. Anderson tapes many lessons on his YouTube channel. Check out one of his recent posts "You Are Enough," based on the teachings from 1 Corinthians.

Anderson joined the church's staff in August 2012. Lawlor said the congregation has enjoyed his young view point on their religion.

"Because of his skills, we wanted to work more with the 20- and 30-year-olds," said Lawlor. "We want to go for the 'Nones.'"

Nones, she explained, are those without a religion.

"Nones have no religious affiliation, and they don't think church has much to offer anymore," said the lead pastor.

Anderson has aspired to change that, by bringing the sermons out from behind the pulpit. 

"He goes over to Forest and Main [Brewing Company], to have theological conversations over a beer or a glass of wine," said Lawlor.

Additionally the new pastor has brought his technological skills, such as website creation and paperless communications, to bring Upper Dublin Lutheran Church into modern day's offerings of technology.

"He blogs once a week," Lawlor said of Anderson. "It is a focus on digital ministry."

“We want to make things accessible to all the things we do, to a broader audience,” said Anderson. “Sometimes our members can’t be with us on a particular Sunday, or we can reach those beyond our congregation.”

Anderson agreed that the young adult audience was one they hoped to reach with the use of digital ministries.

“Our hope would be in part young adults, people connect with technology more and use it the most,” he said. “It is about developing a digital fluency, and really speaking the cultural language.”

Anderson said he hopes area residents can relate more with a religion that uses media such as Facebook.

“We related to people that connect more with social media, we are more authentic,” he said.

The pastor said he hasn’t been professionally taught about such technologies, but picked up the use of such tools along the way.

“It is a lot of self-taught [methods],” said Anderson. “I was last near Boston, and they had a vision about five years ago to improve communications. Facebook was just becoming a ‘thing’ and Twitter was out. We looked around and said ‘how can we communicate with people with these new tools.”

He started by blogging sermons, and said he then “just really took it to a new level.”

For more on the church, visit the website here.


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