Church asks worshippers to use smartphone app to rate hymns and share prayers
Looking at your phone mid-sermon may be frowned upon at most churches.
However one church is encouraging its congregation to make the most of new technology by trialling a new interactive app.
Worshippers at Aylsham Parish Church in Norfolk have been asked to bring in their smartphones and take part in live voting, with the results displayed on a large projector screen behind the vicar.
People are able to answer questions, rate hymns they want to sing at future services and take part in a “word cloud” which displays what the congregation has been praying for.
The more people type a particular word, the larger it appears in the word cloud.
In one sermon, people had been praying for Theresa May, the NHS and the LGBT community.
Reverend Canon Andrew Beane said it gave the church – which already offers its congregation free wifi – a chance to be “much more interactive in our worship”.
He said: “I would like to think it’s pioneering… we’re holding on to the traditional but embracing new technology to make it more relevant to society today.”
The church has used the app, produced by Swedish firm Mentimeter, three times already and is planning to do so at special events in the future.
“Sometimes you can ask a question and people are shy, but by using the app, everybody joins in,” said Rev Beane.
He said the app had not brought more people in through its doors but did improve interaction between older and younger people of the congregation, adding that they were “very generous in what they embrace”.
Rev Beane said he was hoping for more honest feedback on his sermons and was considering asking “how was my vicaring?” through the app.
He said: “Sometimes people will say ‘oh, thank you, vicar’ and you don’t always get that honest opinion. This time people can say ‘I found that really challenging or difficult’.”
The church has already had inquiries from other churches interested in using the technology.