Can Technology Create Catholic Disciples?

Technology is likely the last thing most Catholics would call to mind when asked: “how do you create disciples?” We think of the tried and true, obvious methods – personal invitations to participate in community service or Sunday liturgy, an inspiring homily delivered by the Pastor from the pulpit, and meaningful small faith groups wherein community members explore the Scriptures more deeply.  What if we are overlooking a powerful tool that could help build our ministries and strengthen the commitment of our church members to engage in a transformative relationship with God?

Our call to create disciples is an awesome responsibility and one that we have each been tasked with. Whether you are the pastor or the facilities manager at the parish, the oldest or the youngest member of the congregation, Matthew 28:19 clearly defines our role in creating disciples: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

As life becomes faster paced, we are all using technology to stay connected to friends, family, and colleagues. Ministry doesn’t have to be different. So how can technology help us answer the call to create Catholic disciples? Ministry solutions like Realm are bursting at the seams with features designed specifically with discipleship in mind. Here is an example:

Volunteer Management

To be a true disciple, we must live our faith in a way that extends well beyond our weekly Mass attendance. Many parishioners give life to their personal discipleship by volunteering their time and talents through the variety of active ministries at their parish. The Volunteer Management feature in Realm allows Church staff and ministry leaders to identify the need for and responsibility of volunteers through Serving Roles. Serving Teams are used to connect folks with other community members and provide a clear pathway for parishioners to get involved and act as servant leaders. 

However, volunteer management requires more than simply informing the congregation of a service opportunity and the number of bodies needed. Having information about your community members’ varied talents and skillsets is critical. A simple in-pew survey that consists of a well-curated list of the skills needed in a “check all that apply” format is a great place to start to gather this data for future use. Ministry should be mission-driven and data-informed. 

Once the serving roles are established and clearly defined, the focus then shifts to building the serving teams necessary to address the needs of both the interior church community and the larger community that surrounds. Here again, the need for concrete data will ensure the success of your volunteer management efforts. Clear communication related to the time commitment being asked of volunteers, the dates of service opportunities, and descriptions about the ministerial purpose and community that will benefit will help inspire volunteers to walk the path of discipleship through service to others. 

Engaging parishioners in acts of service can provide the individual with a deeply rewarding way in which to walk in Christ’s path. It also strengthens community bonds and can remind us of the many blessings we enjoy in life. Proper management of volunteer pools is a frequent challenge that technology can help us all overcome without overshadowing the mission that drives the service.

No software solution or technology will ever replace the interaction of parishioners and ministers in service or discipleship, but a unified system will better empower all members and advance the mission and ministries at any church. 

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