by Baptist Press Staff
One out of every four Protestant churches in the United States has virtually no involvement with the World Wide Web despite the emergence of the Internet as a leading communication medium in the 21st century, according to a new study conducted for LifeWay Christian Resources.
The study, which included 871 Protestant church ministers nationally, explored how churches use Web technology and found that 27% of all churches have no connectivity at all, including e-mail.
Conducted by Ellison Research of Phoenix, the survey revealed that 58% of all churches provide Internet access for their staff—though in many cases, ministers have personal access but not access through their church. Only half of all churches provide staff with e-mail, and just under half maintain a Website.
Just 23% of Protestant churches use e-mail prayer chains, 18% have an e-mail church newsletter, and 4% have an online member directory.
The proportion of churches making some use of the Internet is lower in the South, where just 65% of churches are connected, than it is in other parts of the country. Churches with less than 100 in the congregation are much less likely to use the Internet (60%) than are midsize (100–199 people; 86%) or larger churches (96%). Churches led by older ministers are also much less likely to be connected than are those with a pastor under the age of 60, the study said.
Presbyterian churches, at 92%, are the major denominational group most likely to be using the Internet. Most other major denominational groups were about average, but Baptists from outside the Southern Baptist Convention, such as Progressive Baptists, Missionary Baptists, and American Baptists, are much less likely than others to make any use of the Web (54%). In general, mainline and evangelical churches do not differ much in church use of the Web.
Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, said the study confirmed the company's previous research showing a growing technology gap between larger and smaller churches.
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