If this is true and the way we communicate has fundamentally changed, then what does this mean to the church? The church has been notorious for being behind the curve when it comes to innovations – many are still doing the songs of the 50s and lamenting over the “good ‘ol days.”
Some church people are fearful of new technologies. (The news stories of those who abuse the technology doesn’t help.) Some even have “spiritual” reasons for not using it. (They’d rather spend their time “with Jesus.”) I may be wrong, but it seems to me that if these technologies have “fundamentally changed” the way we communicate, then the church needs to break in and use it to communicate the gospel – give Jesus a voice in these new social media communities by being an active incarnated presence.
I’d love to hear from you guys. What are the best (and worst) ways you guys see the church using technology and social media in particular?
Check out this video. I saw it on the Youth Specialties site and . . .well. . .in all honesty, I’m not sure what to think about it. It definitely makes me think though. That’s why I posted it here. Take a couple minutes to watch it, read my post below, and then respond. I’d love to know what you guys think.
I can pretty much agree with most of what the video is saying, but I’m not quite sure it’s the whole truth. I mean – Yes, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd screens have served to connect people to the world and even to each other to some degree. But they have also served to isolate people. And the 4th? Is it really promising that much freedom? It’s true that people can get their information wherever they are and that means they can be out with people and making REAL connections again, but what about the other side? For example: You’re out with your friends making REAL connections, but you keep getting text messages from other people. Are you truly present with your friends? or are you really somewhere else? Doesn’t this hinder REAL connections? And just because you’re out and about with people doesn’t mean you’re making REAL connections either. I’ve watched lots of students (I’m a youth minister) being completely isolated by their phones in the middle of a huge group of people.
In the end I guess this whole revolution is just another communication device. The church is just going to have to “man up” and find ways to do ministry within the cultural norms and forms of communication. I’m not sure what this revolution means to the world of ministry, but as a youth minister, I’m witnessing huge differences in the students of today compared to those even 5 years ago.
Rather than hiding in a bunker and pretending that nothing has changed, I think the church needs to discover how the 4th screen (texting, twitter, social networking, etc.) can be used to glorify God? How can the church use these new technologies to further His Kingdom? Or an even more elementary question – what is a REAL connection? What is community? Can a virtual community truly be a biblical community? What type of relationship/community is needed to honor God? What instruments/tools/technologies can help us to build those relationships/communities? Are these technologies appropriate for communicating the value/depth/glory of the Gospel? Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts. What do you guys think?
Don’t you just love the alliteration in that title? (Sorry, it’s doesn’t take much to distract me.)
I asked Mike Mathews to be my mentor for my next series of classes and he called me last week to arrange a time to get together. We had breakfast this morning and it was a great time. He cracks me up. He’s really gotten into this whole thing. He even did some of the assignments that I have done for class just so he could understand the material. It’s so good to have someone who cares enough about me to go to those kinds of lengths. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he has many of the same dreams as I in regards to being involved in a church plant.
Anyway, today we talked about our life stories. He did the exercise and shared much of his story with me. I knew alot of it, but was able to see a larger picture of what all God has done/used to make him the man that he is.
We also talked about church planting. We dreamed about what a church body should look like? And what kind of facility would be appropriate for it? He also shared a lot with me about National Community Church and how they’re doing ministry. He also said that he thought they were associated with the Acts 29 network. Whoa! That stopped me dead in my tracks. I have always thought that some sort of association/support is vital to a church plant and once I discovered Acts 29, I thought they’d be the kind of group I’d like to be connected to. To discover that NCC is connected to them is beautiful news. That means that my gut reactions about Acts 29 are probably right. We have friends who are are part of NCC and we could certainly talk to them about the whole association thing. I also can’t help but wonder if God is up to something else here too? It’s just like Him to pull people together in the most random ways so that He can be lifted up and glorified.
One of the thoughts that came out was in regards to technology in preaching. Throughout the years it’s been important to use technology as an instrument to carry the Gospel message to the world, and today it’s more important than ever ’cause technology is so integrated into our lives that we cannot separate ourselves from it. I was explaining that I really enjoy the interactive things I’ve experienced in school. We don’t sit at desks, but at tables in little communities. We can get on-line and download the same powerpoint presentations that we’re looking at on the screen that the teacher is using. (This allows for specific notes to be recorded on the presentation itself.) I also described to him how MTV does it’s request shows with scrolling comments made on-line at the bottom of the screen and phone calls “interrupting” the videos with people’s comments. (I’m not sure the viewers see it as an interruption – it’s all a part of the program to them.) Our discussion became about imagining a new way to preach. Rather than a completely planned out prepared sermon, why couldn’t the Scriptures be “discussed/preached” by a man who also responded to comments from others? (Why do we consider the sermon so important? Is it the sermon itself or the instruction and understanding it brings to the Word? Within our culture, is the sermon the best way to communicate the importance of the Gospel message?) It would take a very disciplined person, and certainly every comment couldn’t be addressed, but the interaction itself would engage the people in ways that I’ve certainly never experienced in a service. I think the “preacher/teacher/interviewee” would need to be very grounded in his subject matter to pull this off ’cause he could get all kinds of questions thrown at him. He would also need to be disciplined as far as knowing when to get to the point and get back to the Scriptures, and how to get to the real meat of the message too. This particular style might even allow for multiple “preacher/teachers” who could all be prepared for the topic. In some ways this might even end up looking like a talk show if you weren’t careful. I guess, what I’m imagining would be a delicate balance between a talk show and preaching. I wouldn’t want to lose to authority of good preaching, but I’m looking for ways to engage people in the process a bit more. It wouldn’t take a whole lot of work to prepare a venue for this kind of interaction either – just a WiFi connection and a chat room that could be monitored by some trustworthy person who would then relay the appropriate comments/questions to the main screen that the speaker was working from.
Anyway, he challenged me to start experimenting with this sort of thing. I’m not sure we could really pull it off with the youth program, because I don’t think many of our students have laptops, but I’d probably be surprised. I may start asking questions in our group which could lead down this road soon.
What do you guys think?
If you’re one of the youth in my church, tell me what you think? Should we try to do this? Do you have a laptop or access to one that you could bring to U-TURN?