When churches embrace technology is it all about enhancing and connecting the ministry and message of Jesus Christ to others. Every church has its culture and every pastor and pastoral team have their style. As long as churches use technology for the gospel then it is a great tool. It is when technology becomes the focus and so dependent upon that the church can get into trouble, Will technology change the attitude of the church? I would certainly hope so as we use it to be relative to the evolving technology culture around us.
Some churches need a reality check in regards to the culture around them. The entire government school system in the United States is following the technology progress curve. Many teachers who started years ago grew up in the educational system changes may prefer caulk and eraser over a smart board. Why? When you start out one way it’s often hard to change. Caulk teachers who started out one way and then went to dry eraser enhancement and then most recently are getting introduced to the smart board have to deal with their own attitude of adjustment. Caulk was simple affordable and messy whereas dry eraser boards were quicker, color enhanced and less messy. Now smart boards are expensive, highly interactive and exceptionally multi media as well as very culturally relevant. The teacher right out of college left a smart board world and no adjustment required so to speak. Regardless of the medium of education we need to remember that 2 plus 2 still equals 4 and preaching and teaching the gospel is still about making disciples and transformed lives through personal relationships.
One thing for certain about change is that change is inevitable. I think in the years to follow we will also find that technology itself will become a subculture within the culture and even resisted by many who grew up on it. As nice as technology is to some it also can be addictive like anything else in life if not used with moderation. I am already witnessing the anti technology cultural emerging from all generational groups. Some people will be attracted to churches that use high tech and are low touch and others will be attracted to a church that is high touch with low tech. Churches that have a mix of people are likely to keep a good balance verses the over the top high tech church and the under sensitive low tech church. It is kind like balancing age groups in the church. You need all generations in a church for it to be health and continue the discipleship model for years to come.
I was among some of the innovators in 2005 to use video email and conferencing in ministry. I got lots of wows along the way and fully enjoyed meeting people remotely by video from around the world. To this day I still know people only by voice and video in Australia and New Zealand that I have yet to meet in person. As well, I recall meeting other people for the first time face to face after months of video conferencing and how different the relationship felt after meeting people face to face.
In many regards the walk of faith will be like this when we meet Jesus face to face for the first time. Our faith in Christ is similar to using technology as a bridge tool to touch more lives quicker, but it will never replace the face to face or high touch of personal relationships. I cannot wait to meet my Savior for the first time face to face and I am certain the relationship will change wonderfully on that glorious day.
Regardless of how often or how seldom we use and integrate technology in our ministry context we need to be mindful that the highest touch is still the personal touch.
Technology is not for everyone at the same level. My wife and I are a good example of this and how opposite we are with technologies use and application, yet we still both use it. We both have email and we both use technology. She uses it as little as needed to do what has to be done which saves her time and effort and I use it much more often and enjoy the latest and the greatest tools. I have no problem recording myself on video and she wants nothing to do with it. The other day I was talking to a youth pastor in his mid 20’s in town. He wished he could totally get away from technology and loves his day off when he shuts off all his devises and gets away from all screens completely. He uses technology as he needs it but prefers to disconnect. On the other hand many leaders twitter all day, use facebook, text and are totally connected.
We need to be sensitive about our attitude toward technology as well as against it and recognize it as a tool and a relevant cultural. As much as I enjoy and use technology I must be careful that it does not control me. We should use it for His glory and make sure we use what works for our context and be sensitive to those around us. If we force technology into a ministry context that is not already operating with at least a core of high tech people then we might end up with a low touch on lives.
Here are several perspectives to consider when using technology in ministry so that changes in attitude are positive.
- If the leaders are high tech and the people are low touch then use technology in leadership first. Make ministry enhancements for saving time and being more effective and efficient as staff. Then gradually teach, lead and demonstrate the value of technology to the people and the cultural around you.
- If the people are high touch low tech then surround the leadership with high tech people to gradually bring the staff up to speed to help them to see the value of embracing high tech, but also respect the time and cultural positioning of the low tech leadership.
- If the people and the leaders are low tech high touch then let technology take a back seat and deal with until the culture demands it or the leadership attracts it. Let God direct and lead and then adjust according to high tech demand. As the low tech church discovers the need to be relevant to the emerging technology cultural around them they will seek help anyway.
- If the leaders are high tech and the people are high tech then go for it with God’s best tech tools. But also keep in mind the realization that not everyone you may touch is high tech . If you are not careful you could miss an opportunity to reach low tech people. Balance and moderation will always be the key to good attitude with technology.
Keep in mind that low touch, high tech and high touch, low tech is no respecter of age, education, culture or generations. I have met some really savvy seniors who get it and use high Tech and as well I have seen and meet teenagers who even resist cell phones and love inaccessibility.
Technology will change the attitude of some churches for the better and if leaders push to quickly the low tech
people could resist. Technology is only a tool which is amoral. It can wow and fascinate the mind and heart and be used of God to tug on the hearts of men. Let us use technology for His glory when it make sense and resist it when it does not. As we use technology in ministry may we always be aware of being more amazed at His Grace
than man’s technology. After all the greatest Technologist
made all that is in Six days and that is truly amazing.
Peter Migner is a pastor in Florida who also does personal digital consulting for churches and pastors. You can reach him and review his blogs at www.petermigner.com