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Lone elderly person in church.jpg
USA News

As churches move online, older congregants are being excluded

by Sophie Drew

There are concerns that a move into the digital age is leaving older congregants behind. 

The pandemic saw churches move their services, prayer groups and Bible studies online almost overnight; two years later, some feel it’s impossible to fully participate in church activities because of a lack of internet access. 

Around six per cent of households don't have access to the internet and 14 per cent of British adults use it rarely. 

Most of the people who fall into those categories are over the age of 65.

However, the move online has also provided opportunities for evangelism. People who would not usually attend church are able to find answers to faith-related questions, or delve into sermons, without leaving their home. 

Andy Wileman, Deputy Director of Older Peoples Ministries at the Salvation Army tells Premier Christian News that it is a two-sided coin. 

He said: “Obviously, there are some good examples and there is plenty of good practice out there that shows some churches are really doing that very well in terms of being able to balance the needs of all of their congregation. 

“Obviously, with many of our church congregations, in many places, being predominantly older people, there is a real sense that we need that balance.

“So a printed newsletter is still getting in the hands of an older person is still perhaps the most useful way, and to be able to receive the sermon notes is probably still a good way.

“There was a lady that I spoke to just last week in one of our congregations, here in the Salvation Army, and she said to me ‘I am old. I realise that and I am trying hard, but I feel completely excluded from life by all of this digitalisation.’ 

“I think if the church is to be life in all its fullness, for everybody, then there is surely an opportunity for the local church to think about how all of its people are accessing all of IT services in the best way all of the time.”

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