My #1 son and I were looking at some computer software designed for churches, and we found ourselves rather bemused by some of the capabilities of the software. You can, for example, create sophisticated personalized letters for bulk mailings and photo id badges for church members that make it easy for church staff to call people by name and can be scanned to record the member's attendance.
One possible use of these features is to make it easier for the staff of a large church to create for people the illusion that they are connected to the leadership. It's comforting to be addressed by first name and to receive letters that contain personal information rather than being simply addressed to "Occupant." And it can be nice to have someone say "we missed you on Sunday" even if they only knew about your absence because you didn't get your badge scanned.
But we need to more than just an illusion of connection, we need to actually be connected to each other, and that's a much more difficult challenge. When the time comes that we encounter strains in our lives and need someone to talk to, what we really want is not simply to talk to a pastor whose only knowledge of us is the information he's reading from his computer screen as we talk. But people have only a limited amount of time for each other and a limited capacity for meaningful relationships, so pastors can very quickly reach the point where they simply can't keep in touch with any more people in a meaningful way. What churches really need from technology is not simply assistance in creating the illusion that people are connected to each other but help in actually connecting people. Software that can effectively help us to identify people who are inadequately connected and to bring them in contact with others who have open capacity for relationships would help churches to take a step towards creating real Christian fellowship within the community.