What is the Digital Divide?
The Digital Divide refers to the differences in accessibility to new technology between various cultural, social and economic groups. The world has stepped solidly into the information age, but many have been, and are being left behind. The advantage in the divide goes to those who have the capability to keep up with expensive technological upgrades and innovations that are constantly being introduce to online users. Start up cost for an online business can be expensive. Whether you’re figuring out how to navigate through the Internet on your own, or whether you hire a professional, there are a considerable issues that need to be addressed to create a sustainable online presence.
Where Does the Church Stand?
Sadly, the Church or Churches, in general are falling behind in technology. Where as there are many Churches that embrace new technology and have the resources to pursue online endeavors, many smaller organizations are not prepared for the shift in communications and presentation. Church organizations throughout the world further exemplify the social and economic stratification caused by the Digital Divide. Larger churches with more economic resources, or Churches with professional parishioners willing to share their knowledge have a distinct advantage in entering into the use of digital platforms. Churches with smaller congregations, or parishioners who are not as technologically savvy are in danger of perishing, as organizations, as new models of business and communication emerge.
How Do We Bridge the Gap?
One way to help bridge the technological gap would be an app that would act as a resource of information for Churches worldwide. It’s not necessarily an original idea but it’s one that has been proven to work, and a good place to start. Churches would register with a site. They would submit all of their pertinent information concerning their organization, i.e., address, schedule, denomination, events etc. All of this information would be updated by the submitting church and publicly accessible. Users would be able to search for Churches by the criteria the Churches submit. The app will be global, but by using your GPS location, the app will populate a list of local Churches, Church services, and events and activities within a radius the user determines. In addition to serving as a directory, the site would also serve as an informational hub offering professional information on how to set up and maintain an online presence. Professionals concerned about helping Church organizations could donate or contribute information and advice, or for a nominal fee offer more in depth instruction in private forums to help offset the expense of beginning to establish an online presence. These forums would be focused on the technical aspects of things such as building a website, but also the technical aspects of devising a social media strategy. The site could also serve as a place to find professionals for hire with a heart for the organizations vision, or even those who may want to donate their time or services
The mobile web is contributing to closing the gap to the Digital Divide and now that the Internet is becoming more accessible, more and more Churches need to be educated on how to effectively use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc. The mindset needs to shift from toys to tools, and how to effectively leverage these tools in promoting the Church’s message.
The Internet is a land flowing with milk and honey. The gap to this land can be bridged by information. However, it takes those who are willing to share information and those who are willing to receive information and act on it. Now is a pivotal time in establishing an online presence. Now, smaller companies, organization and even individuals can use various social media outlets to publicize promote their causes. Technology is one part, but knowing how to use the technology properly is another. The awareness that can be created by this simple collaboration is immeasurable. It’s time to get right, or get left.