Alexa

Alexa: Who is God?

A few months ago, the Church of England launched its Alexa ‘skill’. This enabled users to ask the Church of England for prayers, explanations of faith and information about local church events and services.

“We’re thrilled to be launching the Alexa skill, to enable regular churchgoers and those exploring faith to connect with God in another way and at a time that’s right for them,” the Archbishop of York said. “A quarter of UK households now own a smart home device and, after transforming our national websites last year, this fast-growing area was identified as a priority for development.”

You can see John Sentamu in action with Alexa on YouTube or Rev Liz Clutterbuck on BBC World News.

How to use the skill on your Alexa device

It’s easy! Once you’ve enabled the skill you can launch it by saying: “Alexa, open the Church of England”

Daily prayer resources are central to the skill. There is the prayer for the day, as well as morning, evening and night-time prayers and a grace before meals.

The skill is also integrated with A Church Near You. This is the UK national church finder that gets 13 million page views a year to find the nearest services and events. But you need to tell Alexa where you live first!

It also seeks to increase users’ knowledge of the Christian faith by answering questions such as: what is the Bible? Who is God? What is a Christian? Many of the answers draw on material from the Pilgrim discipleship course and The Pilgrim Way: A Short Guide to the Christian Faith.

alexa

Early results

The Church of England said that of those using the Alexa skill:

  • 35% are praying morning, evening, night and daily prayers
  • 35% are exploring Christianity
  • 20% are finding a church
  • 10% are saying grace before a meal

Future plans

While the Alexa skill was launched first, the Church will be following up with Google Home and Apple HomePods in due course.

Adrian Harris, the Church of England’s head of digital, said: “Platforms such as Alexa give the church the ability to connect people with God and to weave faith into daily lives, whether for daily prayers or exploring Christianity.”

Figures from October 2017 suggest that more people now connect with the Church of England via it’s social media channels than physically attend church each month (1.2 million people versus 1.1 million people).

Digital to physical

William Nye, secretary general to the Church’s General Synod, said it must prioritise converting digital followers to physical congregations. “Our challenge is to join up that growing online Church life to the physical community of Church that forms the body of Christ,” he said.

That should be thought provoking as we consider what it means to ‘be’ church rather than ‘go’ to church.

Perhaps we should ask Alexa what the answer is?…

[For more thoughts on ‘being church’ please see this post from earlier in the year. For more about Alexa skills take a look at this post on tom’s guide which has plenty of great suggestions.]

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