Hi-tech Aylsham vicar makes his services interactive
2018: Congregations in Aylsham are being encouraged to use their mobile phones to interact with sermons using technology which, it is believed, has never been used in church services before.
Revd Canon Andrew Beane is the first clergyman in Britain to incorporate the online, interactive presentation platform Mentimeter into his sermons – as a way of engaging with his congregation rather than just preaching from the pulpit. For the first time in history, church-goers are asked to interact with, and influence, sermons in real-time through technology.
The Mentimeter technology, which originates from Sweden and is more commonly found in the boardrooms of companies such as Microsoft, McKinsey, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, allows a presenter to ask a group of people questions before answers are collated via smartphone in real-time and displayed.
This allows the Aylsham church congregation to answer questions in Revd Beane’s sermons, to which they respond in real-time by using the app and entering the relevant passcode. The live results are then projected directly behind the vicar, who uses them to influence the direction of his sermon and illustrate wider points on faith.
Questions from last Sunday’s service ranged from “Who are you praying for this Advent?” (with responses including ‘staff of the NHS’, ‘Yemen’, and ‘the lonely and the homeless’), to “When do you think Christmas starts?”.
Revd Beane, Team Rector, right, comments: “Here in this church, we love technology. Mentimeter has given us an opportunity to be much more interactive in our worship. Sometimes you can ask a question and people are shy; but by using the app, everybody joins in. We’ve used it during sermons to explore issues together, and we’ve used the word-cloud function during prayers, which is utterly moving – a visual representation of our prayers appears on the screen as people are praying. It’s also so inter-generational: it empowers young people, and allows older people opportunities to learn new things. For us, the app is brilliant in terms ensuring that everybody feels part of the worship. We have lots of other ideas how we can use it!”
Johnny Warström, CEO & Co-Founder of Mentimeter, comments: “This combination of Mentimeter technology and the church sermon really is a match made in heaven. Our platform is all about making presentations stand out and so it’s fascinating to see Andrew use our technology to give a voice to his congregation and help them think deeper about the questions he is asking. Technology is meant to empower and enrich our everyday experiences, and helping people to connect with their spiritual teachings feels like a hugely positive adaptation of our platform.”
Aylsham Parish Church is part of the Aylsham & District Team Ministry, a group of 16 churches working collaboratively and creatively together across rural Norfolk. Aylsham has a regular congregation of around 120 each Sunday, and is the largest of the churches in the Team.
The Church works closely with schools and recently co-developed an online teacher tool kit, www.inspiredclassrooms.org. Work with family and children sees the church full for activities days during the school holidays. Social action includes co-ordinating the local foodbank collection & distribution point, a weekly sale of pre-loved and vintage items, a weekly wellbeing cafe supporting those dealing with isolation and mental health issues, and free weekly Baby & Toddler Groups and After School Clubs. The Church also engages with the community via social media, regularly reaching over 100,000 people a month through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
For more about Mentimeter, visit: www.mentimeter.com
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