In Nigeria, the first week in August is usually a very busy one particularly along the Lagos–Ibadan Expressway, otherwise known as “Jesus Highway.” This is due to a large number of people — usually millions — attending the annual convention of some of the country’s biggest churches with camps in the area. When prayers are said and sermons are preached, worshippers pay their tithe and offerings – two contributions that have allowed churches to continue to grow, expand and remain relevant at all levels.As sacred as tithe and offering are in Christianity, a new app
In this exclusive interview with Ventureburn, developer of the app, NetPlusDotCom’s Head of Operations, Kemi Viatonu, explains the company’s bold attempt to bring tech into a sacred, religious practice.
“Our approach to product development is easy. If we see there is a gap in the market, we do a lot of research and development and fill that gap. The one thing that should be realised is that technology is a forever evolving science. The more evolved it is, the more the architecture of existing technology changes and it creates the need for new technology to serve the need of the masses,” said Viatonu.
When asked why they are attempting to modify how a practice that had spanned decades and centuries, she likened the development to how mobile phones had enhanced communication.
“We live in a world that is riddled with fraud. Many people who steal from churches are not necessarily doing it because they have malicious intent. However, the economic atmosphere today has made it almost mandatory for people to steal from an establishment that really does not have a proper checks and balance system in place,” she added.
Viatonu said that so far church leaders in Nigeria are opening up to the solution although the biggest concern is getting them to adapt to the new way of doing things.
“I will say the major concern many of them have is the fact that it is somewhat difficult to adapt to new things here in Nigeria,” she said.
She opined that change is not something that many of the Church leaders are open to. However, she said they see the value and are quickly changing their outlook on the old ways and looking for ways to infuse this into their current practice.
“Even the Church leaders have said that adopting this new system does not mean that they will totally do away with their old way of doing things. This simply creates another avenue and channel to pay their tithes and offering.”
Tech in church beyond tithing and offering
As far as Viatonu is concerned, technology can be introduced in the Nigerian church ‘to a higher extent.’
“As a matter of fact, I think this will create a seamless way to introduce technology into an otherwise untapped segment. The Bible which is the oldest book written has been digitised. So why can’t the collection of tithes and offering be done with technology? I believe this even makes the job of the Church accountant and admin person very easy,” she said.
She supported her claim with a description of the average Nigerian church leader who she described as evolving and sees the need for technology to simplify an otherwise arduous preaching process.
“Many churches now use technology in some form. From the use of a projector to using e-bibles in church, many church leaders now see that technology makes the world easy,” adds Viatonu.
Regarding the space being filled by Ten app, Viatonu said churches of various sizes can make use of it.
“Any small to mega church can use the ten app. This standalone tool can be used by the parishioners on their smart device or the church can create a kiosk that churchgoers can go to, to make their donations to the church,” she said. “We have provisioned it in such a way where any church can use it.”
She added that the application has been built with such robust codes that will allow them to customise it and white label it to each church.
“The church will give us what they want and we will integrate those wants into the application and we will deliver a standalone tool that will create a technological representation of the church at the tip of the churchgoers,” she said.
She is confident that the app will have a tremendous impact as it brings the church to the fingertips of the parishioners – who may find it hard to believe that they will get the same blessing when they use the app to pay tithe and offering as they do when they dip their hands into their pocket, and raise the offering up with their right hand with eyes shut while saying Amen at high decibels as the pastor prays for the congregation.
Feature image: Leo Hatvani via Flickr.