1.1 Background to the Study
The wheel of progress each day continues to turn bringing about significant changes in human endeavours. Man, the rational animal on the face of the earth, has from crude methods of communication developed highly sophisticated ways of communicating. The new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are rapidly changing our old ways of sending, receiving, storing and analyzing messages and data. Many barriers that militated against effective communication are day-after-day being dismantled. Every sphere of life is now caught in this inevitable web of information revolution. Reflecting on this era of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Toffler (1980) ascertained that a new civilization is emerging in our lives, and blind men everywhere are trying to suppress it. This new civilization brings with it new family styles; changed ways of working, loving and living, a new economy; new political conflicts; and beyond all this an altered consciousness as well. Pieces of this new civilization exist today.
Undoubtedly, ICT is rapidly constructing the rhythms of tomorrow’s style and no one can stop it. Communication strengthens life, makes it enjoyable and meaningful. McBride et al, (1980) explained that communication maintains life. It is also the motion and expression of social activities and civilization; it leads various processes and systems of enquiry, command and control; it creates a common pool of ideas, strengthens the feeling of togetherness through exchange of messages and translates thought in action, reflecting every emotion and need from the humblest tasks of human survival to supreme manifestations of creativity-or destruction.
The invention of the internet has greatly revolutionalized communication systems globally. This global network of computers has injected more strength into Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) dominated by the developed countries. In developed and les developed countries many media institutions, schools and colleges, organizations, individuals now make tremendous use of the Internet (Net) on daily basis to send and receive information within and outside their countries. The “Global Village” is rapidly turning into a “Global Parlour”. We now live in a world of “e-communication”.
Okoro (2006) opined that our world has become a world of fax machines, mobile phones, computers, satellites, videotext, telex cable, you name it, thus giving rise to life of … e-learning, e-business, e-trading, email, e-library, e-fund transfer, e-banking, e-conferencing, e-enterprise, e-research, and the like. In this globalize world of computer mediated communication and cyberspace, life and things move at a fast clip while man adapts his behaviour to match the tempo of change.
This global growth of telecommunications industry is making many countries, especially the less developed countries, feel uneasy for they strongly believe that what is happening now in the field of telecommunications will set terms of life in the near future just as 19th country industrialization set terms of life for our present ear. Indeed, many nations strongly believe that sovereignty, economic, social, political and religious affairs and other national issues, now and tomorrow, will greatly depend on telecommunications. It thus follows that to be left behind in the telecommunications “hot race” means disaster (Iyere, 2001).
The Church, being a human organization, cannot be a passive observer of the vast arrays of developments in Communication Technology. This is because she has to adequately use them for effective and efficient management, administration and evangelization of people in the world. In fact, the Church has to use the mass media available in our time to properly execute God’s mandate to her “Go, teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The views of Azuzu (1987) corroborates the expression that communication is a ministry and it is needed everywhere in the Church today than ever before. This fact should strike a meaningful note in the hearts of every commitment Christian in our time. The response should be demonstrated in having men and women who identify themselves professionally to tackle the challenging problems, and of enormous dimensions posed for the Church in this media-invaded world of ours. This research work, therefore, aims to x-ray the impact of digital and information technology on church growth.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Important changes in different aspects of human life are recorded daily as a result of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). As a human organization, the Church cannot afford to be a passive observer of the fascinating benefits and challenges the new information revolution presents to mankind in this 21st century. Some Church authorities, especially those in urban areas in Nigeria, have taken dynamic and progressive steps to use some of the tools of information technology in their daily management, administration and evangelization of people. This study thus takes a firm stand by positing that Churches in the urban areas in Nigeria, should make adequate use of the abundant resources information and communication technology presents, if they are to be relevant and dynamic participants in the ongoing information revolution.
1.3 Research Objectives
The general objective of this study is to investigate the impact of digital and information technology on church growth. The specific objectives are:
i) To investigate the level of exposure of churches in Nigeria in area of Information Communication and Technology
ii) To ascertain the benefits and challenges of computer literacy to religious leaders and members of Nigerian churches
iii) To determine the factors militating against better and wider use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Nigerian churches
iv) To proffer solutions to the identified problems because of the importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in effective management of church.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions will guide the study
i) What is the level of exposure of churches in Nigeria in area of Information Communication and Technology?
ii) What are the benefits and challenges of computer literacy to religious leaders and members of Nigerian churches?
iii) What are the factors militating against better and wider use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Nigerian churches?
iv) What are the solutions to the identified problems because of the importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in effective management of church?