Why WiFi?

Over the next month or so you will hopefully see some free and open WiFi appear in the main church at St John’s. WiFi provided like this, in this context, is beginning to go out of fashion these days due to the ubiquity of mobile internet – but we’re not introducing WiFi to be useful, we’re introducing it to be welcoming.

iPad Bible (by Brett Jordon on Flickr)

I was struck last Sunday evening, by the recent increase in iPads and Bibles on phones being used in church (especially after the speaker that evening proudly told us all he was Mac fan and never preached without his iPad), not least by quite a few staff members. Having spent many years upstairs on the PA and video desks I’ve seen smartphones and then iPads during services slowly increase – but usually only the with the people you’d expect to be the early adopters of the tech – not the ‘early majority’ (to use marketing talk) who are the ones we’re seeing now.

WiFi spot (by TheDigitel on Flickr)

This got me onto an old idea that had sort of wondered through my brain after last year’s Christian New Media Conference (CNMAC). Free WiFi in church. Church has a stuffy image, one that most people would associate with a dislike of glaring screens and the social web – especially inside and during a service. By saying ‘we have WiFi, it’s free, just connect’ we’re saying it’s ok to use your iPad in a service, it’s ok to make notes in Evernote and it’s ok to use the Bible app on your phone so you can compare versions, highlight and share. Because it is ok.

I don’t expect the WiFi to actually get that much use, most people have mobile internet, my main reason is simply so that we can say ‘we have WiFi’. Saying ‘we have WiFi’  is another of those little ways we can say that we’re a little bit more normal than you might think, and coming to a service isn’t like going to a service in middle ages (or what your gran took you too when you were 9), we’ve moved on.

I’ve gathered some associated reading on this if you’re interested: http://pinboard.in/u:jonfoster/t:churchwifi/

17th May 2012 Posted in: Uncategorised by Jon Foster
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