Companies provide smartphone-app templates, church-oriented payment tools, and "congregation management" software.
Companies provide smartphone-app templates, church-oriented payment tools, and "congregation management" software. - 
Listen To The Story

Business isn't the only thing that's moving beyond bricks and mortar. Increasingly, churches are doing their business in the cloud — not the heavens, but the digital realm. 

For example, at Granger Community Church, a congregation of about 5,000 people in northwest Indiana, online sermons get about 17,000 views a month, according to Jami Ruth, the church's communications director. One video has more than 6 million views, although it's not a sermon.

Frozen’s Let It Go — A Mom Parody from Granger Community Church on Vimeo.

The church's communications director, Jami Ruth, says social media has become an increasingly important, and easy, way for members to introduce their friends to the church.

"It's really hard to knock on your neighbor's door and say, 'Hey, come to church with me on Saturday,'" she said. "But it's easy to hit 'share.'"

The collection plate has also gone digital, with options that include smartphone apps and texting-to-give.

Most churches are still playing catch-up when it comes to online donations, according to Scott Thumma, a professor at Hartford Seminary. "Just 31 percent are doing online giving," he said. "That's, like, staggeringly low."

Brian Kluth, a consultant who works with churches on how to maximize donations, says that newer simpler-to-use tech products may help smaller churches catch up to bigger players like Granger.

Meanwhile, Kluth says, small congregations have some DIY tech tricks. "They're literally doing karaoke worship," he said, "putting up YouTube videos of 'How Great Thou Art,' and their people are singing along to the screen."

He's done this himself. "To be honest, that's more preferred, sometimes, than someone who can barely play their guitar — and doesn't know how to sing — trying to lead a group of people." 

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Dan Weissmann at @danweissmann