On a trip to Russia my daughter saw a sign in the Amsterdam airport that read, “Stop the Technology Madness.” This was several years ago, but the sign still seems appropriate today. Normally, I enjoy reading Christian Computing Magazine. It helps me figure out the techie things I can’t get on my own and warns me about things that are coming up. (check it out at http://www.ccmag.com)
But, this month I found it to be quite unsettling. I just couldn’t agree with the tone. It gave me the feeling that ministry is now all about technology. I don’t believe this is the true spirit of the magazine or the staff, I just felt overwhelmed by several comments that gave the impression that church and ministry is now big business and there was no place for the non-technical to exist.
In Steve’s editorial he spoke of a church that is going paperless. Now, I can live without the bulletin and my church rarely sends a newsletter. However, this church will “depend on their membership to connect and gain all of the pertinent information they might need via their smart phone and texting services.” In my church this would leave out a large percentage of our older congregation. I felt sad that either the church was ignoring the needs of the older demographic or that they didn’t have anyone in that age bracket to ignore. A family needs people in every age group and they all have different needs, including technology needs. I’m not even that old, but I don’t have a smart phone and I dislike texting.
He also spoke of a church that would pass iPads to allow people to give online rather than passing the offering plate. Perhaps it is just me, but I enjoy thinking about how much I can give, where I want it to go, praying for the missionaries, or the outreach, or even the general operations and staff of my church as I prepare to give. Somehow, bringing in this type of technology seems like fingernails on a chalkboard to my soul. Convenience is not always worshipful.
Technology can be exciting and it can enhance worship; however, beautiful worship of Almighty God can be present without one modicum of technology. Some of the best times of personal worship are when I sit with my open Bible (not a Kindle) singing praise (without instrumentation) and rejoicing in the presence of God. (no movies, no amplifiers, no computers)
Another new innovation featured in the magazine was about a service where the pastor (or other staff) could record a message then send it via phone, e-mail, or text to remind people about an event, a change, or whatever. I realize this is probably a must for large churches. But I am grateful that my church is small enough that, for us, a reminder comes when my friend calls and says, “Remember, I’ll pick you up at 6:00.” I cringe at the thought of another impersonal recorded message on my answering machine – not from a political candidate or my trash collector, but from my pastor!
A couple other comments rankled my brain. “We all know that when events are poorly attended, it brings any momentum you’ve built to a screeching halt.” Screeching halts are not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps a poorly attended event means that you are not meeting needs, or are going in the wrong direction. Success in Kingdom work is seldom signified by numbers. I suppose the biggest red flag in that sentence is “momentum you’ve built.” Remember, if the Lord doesn’t build the house, your labor is in vain. We should be looking to Him for our momentum, not to technology.
“Additionally, churches are businesses that depend on the support of their members. Gathering support for new initiatives through awareness and giving campaigns are crucial to the growth of your church.” I have to totally disagree with this statement. Churches are ministries, not businesses. And churches should depend upon the Lord. We must never forget the foundation of our ministry is not in what man can do but solely on what God has done.
Technology is good, but we should never let it take the place of the work of God in the hearts of people. We must not let it take the place of face-to-face relationships in encouraging our brothers and sisters. And we must never let it try to replace the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Church. In our excitement for technology we must be careful to continue to give to God His rightful place.