Religion brought to palm of your hand

Churches using technology to bring in new members


You can get a bird's eye view of St. Peter's Basilica anytime of day, attend the Sunday Angelus with Pope Francis from St. Peter's Square and take part in any number of ceremonies going on inside the Vatican without ever stepping foot on Italian soil.

The Pope app is probably one of the most popular Catholic apps, but it isn't the only one the church has created.

"It's the place where people are connecting, they are seeking God, it's the marketplace of today so we need to go and engage them where they are," said Father Jorge Torres, the vocational director for the Diocese of Orlando.

Torres joked that if Jesus were here today, he'd probably have a Twitter feed.

"In his age, He would meet them where they were face to face. In our age, we can meet them through the Internet through television, through apps," Torres said.

One of those is Divine Office, an app that leads you through the five prayers of the Catholic church, with music and prayer and unison.

The church offers dozens of other apps, although smart phones and tablets are still not the preferred method of study once inside the Catholic house of worship.

"There is discussion as to the use of phones during mass, right now the church has asked us to wait on that," said Torres.

At more contemporary churches, the glow of tablets and smart phones can be seen from the balcony as parishioners follow along in scripture.

At Northland Church in Longwood, Pastor Nathan Clark joked that he hopes everyone is reading along and not just checking social media.

Clark is one of the Church's online pastors. The web platform is the focus for Northland, offering services and counseling directly through the church's website.

"A significant number of our congregation also worships online, then there's a significant number in the thousands all over the world and all over the country that worships with us as well," said Clark.

Take the Leaf family. Stan, a member of the Army, spent much of the last decade on deployment. That took a toll on his marriage to wife Sandy.

But Stan's daughter Alyssa, who was a young teen at the time, enlightened them about online worship with Northland.

It not only saved their marriage, but brought them closer together as a family.

"Sometimes, it's the only time I talk to him when he's away, unless I catch him on the phone," said Alyssa, now 20.

She's no stranger to religious technology, using daily devotional apps on her phone to better understand Biblical scripture and stay connected with friends.

"I don't know any friends with a smart phone who don't use some type of Bible app on their phone," she said.

Stan and Sandy don't even live in Central Florida anymore, but keep connected with Northland while they are home in Colorado. They said it was like having a piece of home.

Sandy, like over 100 million other people, has downloaded "The Bible" app and reads it on an electronic leader.

The Youversion app is outpacing social networking giant Instagram, and is available in various languages and translations.

Various religious apps are available for other religious besides Christianity. We've compiled a full list of religious apps here.