Monday, 20 April 2015

The gospel according to Wi-Fi By PENWELL DLAMINI

CONNECTED: Bishop Eric Mkhize, senior pastor at the Faith Centre Malvern Assembly in eastern Johannesburg, delivers a sermon from his iPad.

Printed Bibles and hymn books are no longer part of many church services as priests and congregants embrace everything from iPads to electronic banking and social media forums including Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp.
The benefits are convenience, saving on printing and improved communication.

The Faith Centre Malvern Assembly, in the east of Johannesburg, uses data projectors to display the words of songs on two large screens. As the church is multicultural, every verse of the sermon is displayed in Zulu, Xhosa, English and Tswana.
Senior pastor Bishop Eric Mkhize delivers the sermon through a wireless microphone, tablet in hand. As he reads, the congregation, mostly youngsters, switch on cellphones to read the scripture, while others read from tablets.
At Grace Bible Church in Soweto technology is used for everything from preaching to collections.
Dr Ezekiel Mathole explains: "We use multimedia presentations. Some of our preachers use PowerPoint. During sermons we use video clips. Some of our preachers also use their laptops or iPads to present their sermons and the congregation uses phones to take notes."
There are no hymn books; they have been replaced by large digital screens. "Most of the members under 50 have Bibles on their smart phones, so they do not carry Bibles to church," Mathole said.
The church communicates with members via SMS, Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook.
Even tithes are paid electronically. During offering time at Grace Bible Church bank details are displayed on screens and people can make EFT payments on the spot.
" Some people do not like carrying cash around. Most people were very happy with the idea as they saw it as a matter of convenience," Mathole said.

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