WiFi is everywhere! I can now access WiFi at all of my favorite fast food restaurants, at my doctor’s office, at my local hospital, and although I don’t like to fly, some airlines are now offering WiFi for their passengers! Some of the most popular Christian apps and Bible study software apps allow users great access to features and translations IF they have WiFi. So, this month’s question is….
Do you offer WiFi at your church for your congregation and visitors? If not, why not? If you do, how, and is it popular and well used?
We have a lot of responses to this month’s question. Most either have had WiFi for two years, or they have just added it recently. There were a few that didn’t have WiFi but want it soon, and there were those that didn’t want it to be included at all. Some were under the impression that a person could do whatever they wanted with their smart phone or table via 3g or 4g connection and that WiFi wasn’t really needed. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. There are many apps, including some of the Bible study programs, that require a WiFi connection in order to access some of the translations. And, personally, I like to take my tablet into worship and access the Bible on it, and it doesn’t have a cell phone account and is dependent on WiFi.
And, I was blessed to see a few of our readers really getting the value of WiFi. The use Proclaim from Logos for multimedia allowing their members to receive instant links to the scriptures used in the sermon. And, my blessings to those churches that provide WiFi throughout their church because they realize their Sunday School teachers can USE it to access videos they might want to show that relate to the lesson they are teaching. I spoke at a church recently in Texas, and was delighted to know that every class room had a video display with an AppleTV and WiFi. Anyone teaching could access a lot of multimedia materials available on YouTube and easily share with their class! Good job!
Enough from me, here is a sampling of what we heard from you!
Here’s one who offered it, but has cancelled the offering…
“We did make WiFi available for anyone who asked for our password. Just this week we changed the password and will no longer make it available to all. We noticed our speeds slowed considerably. As we gave out the password, and people put it on their phone or tablet, every time them walked on campus the phone/tablet connected automatically, thus, slowing down our connection speed. We are a smaller church and, at this time, do not want to spend over twice as much to bump up our internet speed.”
And, here is a church asking for more information on how to do a better job in setting up WiFi!
“We have WiFi available at our church throughout all of our buildings. Unfortunately the band width is not enough for very many people to use it at the same time. I would be very interested in solutions that would provide the ability for more simultaneous users at a reasonable price. What does Starbucks do? I am looking forward to an article on possible solutions.”
Nick Nicholaou did a great job last summer on an article that might provide the info you need. Check it out at http://ccmag.com/2013_07/ccmag2013_07nick.pdf
And this, from a church that is afraid of the consequences of offering public WiFi…
“In your article concerning the provision of public WiFi in churches, please include a candid assessment of the risks involved (we know the benefits), how those risks can be mitigated, and what insurance can be obtained to cover those risks. Our church has looked into insurance to cover the risks of providing WiFi and has come up empty for coverage for any risks exclusive to WiFi. For example, if at a youth event, a minor whose parents have taken away her smartphone proceeds to borrow the phone/tablet of a friend and uses the church WiFi to contact a sexual predator that her parent has prohibited her from contacting, what insurance will pay any legal fees (and losses) the church incurs when the wayward teen’s parent sues? Or what if the teen uses the church WiFi to view a “fire challenge” on YouTube, and as a result is involved in an incident where they are seriously burned – and the parent sues?”
I do not have a firm answer for your fear, but I would place it somewhere in the same level as worrying about adding a drinking fountain for people to use in your church but you’re afraid someone might drown. Since most of our readers DO now provide free public WiFi at their church, maybe some of our readers can offer a solution to help answer your concerns?
And here is a sampling of the rest, from those that don’t think churches should have WiFi, to those that offer it, and near the end, some that told why they have WiFi, which might prompt some readers to become more creative as well!
“I think we are getting a little carried away. We go to church to worship, not communicate outside of the church. There is plenty of time for that after we leave.”
“I don’t have to provide Wi-Fi. Most of my people do not have computers and don’t want one. It scares them.”
“We might be getting it, but I am against it due to security concerns with our network. I know there are safeguards to have a network for members and have our wireless protected on the same router, but wireless itself is still not as secure as wired. We have personal information in a computer here and also do online commerce, so I feel we need to protect members’ personal information since hackers could access it easier with WiFi. The rewards do not seem to be worth the risk. I also wonder how many people would be distracted with other things during service if WiFi were available. I believe some might already text and have other distractions at church and am not sure if getting it would be a good idea for those reasons either.”
“Our church currently doesn’t offer WiFi, but we should. For starters, our WiFi signal doesn’t penetrate the sanctuary, so those of us that need to use any media at church can’t even do it. On top of that, there’s been a couple asking about bringing their tablets to church for Bible note taking, and they can’t do it. Our deacons are too tech unsavvy to understand why our churches needs WiFi in the sanctuary, as well as they’re considering replacing our office’s N router with a G router (major step backwards) just to save money. It’s not a good situation.”
“We offer WiFi to anyone who asks, or if I see them using a device, I offer it. I would like to have a guest network and publish the password in bulletins and at meetings.”
“We do offer WiFi for all. It is very popular and used a lot – by teachers in our classes, and by members who follow the sermons, lessons; looking up bible atlases, checking out additional commentary, searching for possible blogs on the subjects, etc. “
“We do offer WiFi at our church for staff, congregation, and visitor. Our staff portal is separate and has dedicated bandwidth. We got to where hardly anyone could get on WiFi, especially on Wednesdays and Sundays, so we put in a new system that could handle over 1,000 wireless IP addresses, especially in our Worship Center and Student Center, and doubled our bandwidth. This public system has a logon screen with rules that they have to agree to, much like a hotel.”
“First Friends Church in Canton Ohio offers free quest access to WiFi. It is used by many, especially the younger ones and the youth. Primary use is following along with the pastor with the scripture using You Version app. I am sure there are other online Bible sources as well.”
“Yes, we offer free WiFi in our church building. Actually we have two separate WiFi systems. One that connects to the church office network and is secured by a password. The second is not connected to the network and requires no password to access. There is a filter on both systems, reducing the possibility of accessing content deemed offensive or immoral.”
“We offer public WiFi throughout our church campus. From the classrooms to the fellowship hall to the worship center, we make sure our guests and congregation can get online. We have 3 APs in our 1000+ seat worship center alone with additional capacity if needed. With a good portion of our congregation using a smart phone or tablet to read their Bibles during the service, it is almost as “expected and necessary” as air conditioning and lights.”
“I set up WiFi at Hardingville Bible Church in the sanctuary (out in the country in NJ) and although everyone in administration said “It would never be used,” within a month I was asked to add WiFi in three other wings of the church. It’s been interesting to see the oldest generations in the church adopt using iPads for their Bible reading. Now there are still a few of the oldest generation that are on the border of thinking that it is almost evil to use a computer in church. However the deacons, and most of the 20-35 year olds are using devices to look up references and to do Bible study. With the increase in bible apps and online planning tools, WiFi has become one of the essential tools that we strive to provide throughout our facilities.”
“Yes, we offer WiFi at the church, and have recently upgraded our access points so that the signal is strong throughout all the buildings. We’re a more liturgical church, so we don’t have an emphasis on social media interaction during the church service/sermon, but I do know that some people prefer to access the Scripture readings and such on their portable devices. Greater use is encouraged during our Bible study times, but I don’t believe more than a quarter of the congregation makes use of the WiFi.”
“We do offer Wi-Fi to the church. We have 100mb down from Comcast. We have 5 Buildings connected by fiber, and utilize Ruckus Wireless and I manage it through Zone Director. I have separate login accounts for Teachers, Staff Members, Pre School, and Guests, each with its own security and access levels. Staff Members and our security team utilize the Wi-Fi by Video monitoring areas of the campus via their iPad, iPhone or Android device. We have equipped our Classrooms with Apple TV. This is one of the best resources for teachers and guests. WiFi is not just for kids anymore. I recently taught a class of over 40 Seniors in our church, how to use the mobile device for Sunday Sermons. Connected them with YouVersion Bible, Evernote and Dropbox to follow along and take notes with Sunday Sermons. We are in the process of creating a Worship Guide app and limit our print expenses.”
“We have WiFi in the main sanctuary on for our Sunday morning and evening services. Sunday morning we usually have 150-175 in the sanctuary and about 20-25 connect to the WiFi. We display the access code on the projection system just prior to the sermon. We offer the Pastor’s sermon notes on YouVersion live for our group Taylor Memorial PHC. Users may read along as the scripture verses are read. The Pastors notes are there as well and they can take their own notes using the app. The Pastors notes on the YouVersion event have more content than what can be displayed on the projection system. Users can fill out prayer requests and there is a general link to our website which includes the phone number. Also have the share button on the live event so they can post their experience to Facebook/Twitter. The people that use it love it and use it regularly. We can never go back now that we’ve offered it.”
“We have just started offering WiFi on Sunday’s during service since July of this year. It is a very simple setup. We just ordered a separate router and DSL Wi-Fi line for the congregation that does not connect to our main DSL that we use for our administration. The reason we decided to do this is because we started offering our sermon notes on the Bible.com app on Sundays so that our members could follow along with the sermon and we would save a tree by not printing the notes out. We have a lot of our members that have mobile devices, tablets and smartphones with their Bible on it and we wanted to take advantage of the technology. On Sunday morning we post on screen the WiFi connection name and password and the sermon note locations for all of the congregation to connect to. The Bible app allows us to ask pole questions live during the sermons which I find helpful for me personally to gauge where people are at in their walk and understanding of what we are teaching. One quick note is once we made Wi-Fi available for our members it was a very positive response. We have some members that only have internet access when they come to church on Sunday and this is helpful for them.”
“We have 2 WiFi networks that cover the whole campus—a guest one and a staff one that is password protected. We get a lot of traffic on Sunday. Additionally, our small group leaders often use it in their teaching (we recently purchased some smart tv’s for some of the classrooms that connect to the WiFi and have shown various videos off of them). We also run a check in system with some mobile tablets that connect to the WiFi for children’s ministry. We tried several solutions at first, and finally had to go with a commercial grade option to get what we wanted—a lot of trial and error but definitely worth it.”
“I do offer WiFi at my Church for attendees. It is used by many attending. Most use electronic Bibles plus we use Proclaim as our presentation software. This software helps them to connect to the Scriptures as we present them on the screen.”
“Yes, we offer WiFi. We use Proclaim presentation software (Logos) in our services which generates “signals” throughout the service that allows congregants to follow Scripture on their smartphones or tablets, or add announcement details to their calendars. We do know it gets used; just don’t know by how many. Our Sunday school teachers also use it to connect to YouTube for lesson illustrations, etc.”
“As a small congregation we endeavor to provide as a good a situation as possible for our people. We utilize Proclaim Church presentation software from Logos Bible Software to project info from the service on screens in the auditorium. Proclaim utilizes signals to Logos Bible Software and Fatihlife Study Bible, also from Logos. These signals provide the user on their tablet or smartphone with a single button to press to take the person to the specific Bible text. Proclaim also can send signals which provide calendar entries, links to web pages and other things that aid the person in the pew to worship better. WiFi is essential in that situation and provides a great resource to our people. Many of our material utilized in our Sunday School program is made available on our web site for our folks to download to their tablets or smart phones or download to their computers. In our College and Career class the kids sit in the classroom with the laptops and tablets with our study books on them accessible because of the Internet access through WiFi. We have a Bible reading program in which we read through the Bible every year. We ensure that the plan we use each year is available on the YouVersion Bible app so that our folks can read the text in the plan or even have it read to them in the app.”