Thou shalt be disrupted: welcome to the silicon church

Sally Davies:

Think of them as God’s back-office. Technology start-ups have spied an opportunity in helping Christian clergy manage their organisations – from using apps to harvest data about their parishioners, to administering assets such as cemeteries and church organs.

California-based Kaleo Apps offers a host of smartphone features to churches, including Facebook-like “prayer walls” and a service that lets churchgoers donate via SMS. The company says its tools have increased giving by up to 40 per cent.

“Churches have been managing themselves for thousands of years, but they’re being challenged on their story and their relevance,” says Klaus Nyengaard, chairman and investor in Danish start-up ChurchDesk. “They need to spend less time on administration and more time on the values they have and preaching the Gospel.”

Mr Nyengaard, who was previously chief executive of London-based online food marketplace Just Eat, says priests are working harder than ever before to “sweat” underutilised assets and get local community groups through the door by offering space for events, creating an ever-greater need for efficient management.