While most churches are using Facebook to interact with the congregation and to reach outsiders, only few are comfortable using Twitter, according to a new study by LifeWay Research, which also found that small churches do not allow online giving through their website.
When it comes to social media, churches are most likely to use Facebook, said the survey of Protestant senior pastors, which found that 84 percent of churches have a website and 84 percent also have a Facebook page.
However, only 16 percent of them have ventured on Twitter, and 13 percent use Instagram.
In 2010, 47 percent of Protestant churches had a Facebook page.
Among those who use social media, 97 percent use it to inform people about coming events, the survey showed. It added that 87 percent use it to interact with the congregation, while 86 percent use it to interact with outsiders. And 84 percent use social media to capture memories of church activities, while 68 percent use social media to help church members interact.
The survey further showed that 70 percent of even small churches with fewer than 50 attenders are likely to have a Facebook page, and that 39 percent of larger churches with 250 or more attenders are more likely to also use Twitter.
Overall, the churches are open to the use of technology, and 68 percent provide Wi-Fi for both guests and staff, according to the study.
"Not long ago churches' use of technology was often limited to a website that functioned like the Yellow Pages or a bulletin board," said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. "Now they see technology as a way to interact with people. Wi-fi is just one more way to do that."
Only 2 percent say they avoid new technology, while 14 percent say they are slow to adopt new technology, and 23 percent proactively look for new technology to use.
However, 61 percent are open to new technology but don't go looking for it, the survey said. "That's especially true when it comes to online giving. Despite the popularity of electronic bill-paying, only about 30 percent of all churches in the study allow online giving through their website."
In 2010, only 14 percent allowed online giving.
The study said 59 percent of Pentecostals are most likely to say their church website offers online giving. "Baptists (32 percent), Lutherans (33 percent), Methodists (38 percent), and Presbyterian/Reformed churches (26 percent) are less likely."
However, bigger churches, those with 250 or more attenders, seem to love online giving, as 74 percent of them offer it on their websites, it said. By contrast, 39 percent of churches with 100 to 249 attenders offer online giving. And only a quarter of smaller churches, those with 100 attenders or fewer, offer online giving.