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Wifi @ Church

Church wifi

Most of us know where to get free wifi. Macdonald’s is a well-known example. Increasingly there are places, from in shopping malls to at airports, where you can also charge your digital device. There are a variety of connections where you can attach your phone, tablet, iPad, or laptop.

People congregate there, normally buying a coffee or whatever at the same time.

I’m assuming your church community already has a quality website, facebook page, and interacts in the now-no-longer-new land of the internet.

Could your church building be(come) a place well-known for providing good, free wifi (and charging your digital device). Suddenly your church appears on apps etc. showing where to find wifi. The home page that appears as people click your terms of use can include them liking your facebook page from their profile, it can give service times and other things that people might find useful, it can provide a thought for the day, a welcome from the priest/pastor. The possibilities are endless.

Yes – during services we may not want people milling about noisily around the foyer while we are worshipping; but there are ways around that (wifi off during service times; only showing the info about the service at that time;…)

Do you do this?
Do you know of places that do this?
What do you think?

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11 Responses to Wifi @ Church

  1. My parish has wi-fi, I can see it listed on my iPhone, but it’s a secure network and you must have the password. When I asked about free wi-fi, especially if the router has two broadcast frequencies, i was told that they didn’t want folks sitting outside and using the church’s wi-fi to browse porn.

    I think that one thing that we learn from some of the Barna Group’s recent polling and research is that what brings folks back to church today are relationships with others people. And areas of the church building that have been purposely created to facilitate folks sitting and talking and building relationships are desired. Outfitting such 3rd place areas with wi-fi and charging abilities would make them even more inviting in my opinion.

    • Yes, Br David. Standard conditions to accept could include (as they often do) no porn, no illegal activities, don’t download huge files (eg films). Many free wifi places have a filter and system to prevent such things. Not hard once a community puts its mind to it. Blessings.

  2. Although the “conditions of use” could include asking the users of the service to avoid certain downloads, might people complain if a church’s Wifi link provides (say) access to pornographic websites, or if the church has to pay “excessive volume charges” or upgrade to an unlimited traffic plan with their ISP because people use it to download lots of high-res video? Then again, will people complain if it has any restrictions, or is slow? Could there be negativity associated with the church if the Wifi doesn’t keep up with the Joneses?

    Not that being on the “Wifi map” and enhancing the location as a place for people to freqent is a bad thing, but there are a lot of things to think about. Public libraries and schools have had to think about some of these things, and often do place software-based restrictions… schools especially will attract criticism if they don’t, and there are products that filter access or even replace any picture not in a list of “approved” ones with something else! Sometimes there can be over-reactions, but there’s also free software (e.g. proxy configuration strategies) that should be “good enough”. I think the trend is to make the people (ISP, library, whatever) responsible for whatever people may find on the Internet via their service – which is unfair and silly, but still the trend continues.

    Another thought could be for churches to provide free email addresses with advantages: the other “free” email addresses (like @gmail.com) are so used that you have to add silly numbers to your name or use some very obscure abbreviation to find a unique account name and people would probably like having an email address with the name of their church in the domain name.

    • Thanks, Mark. Some free wifi I have used declare that filters block access to some types of sites and also give a daily usage limit for the device being used. Blessings.

  3. I think churches need to be very careful with wifi – particularly churches that run children’s programmes. There is significant European and WHO data about potential health concerns, and a number of sufferers from Electro-Magnetic Radiation here in NZ. At the very least churches need to have a D-link unit with an on/off switch – and turn it off like you’d turn off the lights – thus minimizing its effects on neighbours

    • Thanks. Remember when the cell-phone-tower discussion was around, Glynn? The reality is, increasingly, that in and around church buildings there will be half a dozen or more password-protected wifi networks. I don’t think the passwords prevent the effects you are describing, so I think you are introducing another discussion? Blessings.

  4. Sadly in my experience many churches have not even got a good website or facebook page, but good on you for encouraging it. It is not seen as part of any mission or communication strategy.

    We could go much further here. I notice the singers at St Matthews in the cit have their music on an ipad. I would love to use an ipad to download the service sheet (along with all the music) and save all the printing.

    What about having a charging point for electric cars in our carpark, I have a friend who runs a backpackers who has done this – makes a good return and also appears on apps for those looking for a top up.

    • Yes, you are right, sadly, Rosemary – I have long been providing free information and encouragement to church communities to get online – some have taken up the invitation/challenge. I’m not sure that there is a real “mission or communication strategy” if the digital age is not part of that. I have seen people in churches using iPads instead of accepting more cut-down trees. On the Camino I always took my iPad to church as did many others so that we could participate in the Spanish (I had a copy of the liturgy and the responses), many followed the readings in their own language (those here who refuse to use the lectionary clearly have no mission beyond their own language limitations). It would be very, very difficult to find a place in Spain where there was no free wifi. Blessings.

  5. Interesting that most of this discussion has focused on ‘outsiders’ using the wifi, and not on how those part of the community can also use wifi more creatively and imaginatively

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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