Over the past year, my team and I made it a priority to truly understand the concerns and pain points of Catholic communities around the country. After hundreds of conversations with bishops, priests, communications directors, parishioners, and ministry group leaders, we were able to build Tabella, the free social app for Catholic communities. In our research, we discovered that there is a mindset that has been propagated across Catholic communities all around the world, which is deeply hurting our flock.
In order to simplify what we discovered, I will outline that mindset with a series of scenarios that you as a Catholic have often heard as you walk through a Church, or if you simply know the inner workings of some communities. My intent is to inspire people to get rid of these very limiting beliefs, mostly around technology, that are essentially hurting the Church.
4 Mindsets Hurting The Catholic Church
- “Old people do not use technology”
This one in particular is one that gets said quite frequently; and honestly, it is simply not true. According to Pew Research, 71% of Americans between ages of 65-75 years old have and use a smartphone, and 70% of Americans between 50-65 are on social media platforms. As I reflect on my time working in Silicon Valley investing in startups and training entrepreneurs, I learned that every demographic’s pain points are being addressed by technology. Technology, for the most part, makes life easier, and there are entire companies built on just being able to serve seniors with technology. Moreover, the pandemic and the lockdowns forced the entire world to adopt technology in order to continue to communicate. Products like Zoom are now ubiquitous to daily life in all age groups. The mindset of “the older population in our church does not use technology” is actually preventing this demographic from having the best product and innovations for the aspects of life related to their faith.
- “Oh, but we have that already”
As we spoke about technology to parishes in our early stages of development, church staff would often mention “Oh, but we have that already.” When you ask them how they communicate information to their parishioners, they say that they put it on the website. Websites are no longer a relevant method of getting information to a large group of people quickly. Churches need to be able to notify people right away and make sure their flock sees the important events happening. One example of this was about 5 months ago when I attended a funeral of a well-known parishioner in their community. Aside from posting on the website for the community to find out late, or by word of mouth, this church had no effective way of letting everyone know that their beloved community member had passed. It is time to look at all the incredible technology we use across our daily lives and ask ourselves why we do not have technology to help us connect to our faith communities. The parishes that do understand this tend to be the most thriving communities; however, companies are charging them high fees for very basic messaging tools. This is where we learned that Tabella needed to be the best, solely Catholic, and free for Churches.
- “We don’t like transition”
This one is due to the level of comfort that arises when we do not change or grow. Unfortunately, we have had conversations where church teams want to keep doing things the same way, and it is so sad to see that their communities are decreasing in size every year. We need to recognize that there is a spiritual war for our souls and that decreasing Catholic communities means less and fewer people receiving the sacraments. It is incredible to see that bulletin companies have been around for decades (some actually more than 100 years), and that this has been the primary way of communicating with the community in the 21st century. Bulletins are a slow method of communicating information, are environmentally harmful, and serve no use to the community members who are not able to be there physically (i.e. the elderly or people who were prevented from going to Mass due to lockdowns). We need to take advantage of all the incredible technology that can help us get closer to the truth and beauty of the Church.
- “The Church does not innovate, and they are stuck in the past”
This one is also simply not true. There are tons of laity and religious people who are applying their talents and skills to help the Church innovate in all areas. A perfect example can be seen in the companies and ministries that were accelerated in the OSV Challenge, Tabella being one of the 2021 finalists. The Church has been the center of the world for the last two thousand years (i.e. art, exploration, values, and more). The world is moving at an incredible pace, and we, as part of that world, need to be able to constantly use avenues to evangelize everywhere. One impressive example is Father Fiel, a Catholic priest with over 2M followers on social media, innovating on how to bring youth back to the Church.
It is my hope that next time you hear some of these mindsets repeated, you reflect on how those beliefs may be hurting the Church. If you are interested in adopting the best technology and helping your community thrive, whether it is a parish or a ministry group, please check out Tabella, the free social app for Catholic communities.