The Church and Its Technology

My friend Thomas and I were talking this morning after Sunday morning class.

We’re reading a book at Robinson Avenue Church of Christ about how to do outreach in your community.  One of the elements that came up for discussion this morning was how the church (specifically our church, but I believe all churches) uses technology. Our congregation, like many congregations in our vein, is a tad behind the times.  We’re not as behind as some churches I have been a part of though.  We have a cookie cutter website and reside pretty safely under the heading of “low-tech.”We have a good start though. We’ve got a good sound system, we’re putting sermon MP3s on the website, we’re projecting sermons notes, all of which are very commendable. 

From there the conversation moved to technology theory.  What should it’s role be?  What should we offer?  What is too much? 

The conclusion I came to was this:  you reflect the age group that you’re targeting by the technology that you use.  So, if you only offer your sermons on tape, you are targeting an age group that still uses tapes.  If you use online video, then you are targeting a group of people who are computer literate enough  to watch them.  If you attempt to make something that looks good, then you are targeting a group of people who care about your design

Your technology is important because it reaches people beyond your current reach:  People come across your videos, stumble upon your website, find the pictures of your service project and decide to listen to your teaching.  If you don’t use technology then the only people you can hope to reach are the people who are right in front of you in the building.  But to attempt to reach and grow, you must be putting things outside your walls, doing work outside your walls, these are things that we are commanded to do.

Mark Driscoll talks about technology a lot.  He says that one of the blessings in having a church in a dense urban area is that it forces you to be better.  If you are living in a rural setting, you go to the one rural church.  That church doesn’t have to get better, challenge itself, grow in relevance because it faces no competition.  You have no option, but in the city you do.  Therefore, your preaching must be better, your technology must be better, your services must be better and your design must be better to keep growing and being attractive to people so that you can tell them about Jesus. I tend to agree.

So, Who should our churches be focused on reaching with our technology?  Everyone. 

If there are older folks who want a tape, you should keep that primitive machinery somewhere to do that if you need to.  Your website should be easy to navigate even if there is a lot of things on it.  Your Powerpoint should not alienate the majority to seem hip and cool.  But you should always be changing and moving with new technology to cater to the younger people.

But say you have a limited budget, you have to target one age group.  Where should your preference fall?  Young people.  For a church to grow and continue to do so, you must constantly be bringing in younger people.  It is a matter of math that says a person who becomes a Christian at 50 will not have as much output as a person who becomes a Christian at 15.  There is just a lot more time to do a lot more things.  Honor our older people, love our older people and continue to seek older people, but younger people sustain the future of the church.

Now, it may be because I am a young person that I feel that churches should focus on young people.  Maybe when I am middle-aged I will think that we should focus on middle-aged people because they are established in careers and can fund more works in the church. 

But for now, these are  my ideas and I am sticking to them.

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About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: coleyoakum@gmail.com Flickr: flickr.com/photos/coleyoakum/

2 responses to “The Church and Its Technology”

  1. David says :

    Interesting post.

    Do you think that the technology and competition that says your preaching, technology, and services must be better might send the world the wrong message?

    Last year I worked for a small Church in a community of about 6,000. However, unlike the typical small community, our town had a surplus of Churches (6 other CofC’s, at least 3 Methodists, 4 Baptists, 5 Catholic Churches and a variety of community Churches).

    54% of our community was “non-religious” and most had never even set foot in a Church.

    Competition was pretty intense in this area.

    I talked to a lot of that “54%” group and most of them said that they don’t go to Church because they felt like the Churches who claim to be “brothers” spent more time and money on their salesmanship than on what the Bible supposedly said we’re supposed to be about.

    Do you think that the technology and “competition to be better” has actually become a distraction?

    I understand that the technology and competition is meant to enhance “Christian” activities (Like being able to broadcast a service project and the Word of God, etc), and I’m a huge fan of technology.

    After having heard some of these responses I’m beginning to wonder if its better to err on the side of “not quite enough tech” than “to much tech”?

    Anyway, interesting post. Let me know what your thoughts are.

  2. coleyoakum says :

    A friend and I were discussing this the other day.

    In particular we were talking about a good looking website. Who uses it? Does a non-christian think to themselves, “I am curious about Jesus, lets look at this website.” Probably not. I don’t believe that nonChristians are listening to sermon podcasts.

    I think that websites and podcasts and technology online is to 1) enhance the experience of the members and 2) Bring in people who are already Christians who are searching for a new church, jumping churches or have moved into a new area and are looking for a congregation to attend and finally 3) To teach Christians who cannot attend due to geography.

    So, websites are for believers.

    Now, technology in the actual assembly, I think is probably different. In school we learn about different learning styles (auditory, visual, kinetic, etc.) and for a long time churches have opperated on soley the monologue method. You are missing many learning styles if you are just auditory. You need visual, especially with a culture that is becoming more visual. Then you have the doers. Some people really have their faith edified in action and service.

    Now as things are happening, as kinetic learners are doing, we need to have people there, taking pictures, doing video etc. From there, you need to be putting these vidoes on your website to attract other kinetic learners who aren’t having their needs met where they are.

    I believe nonChristians come to beliefe through interactions with (real) Christians, and Christians are attracted to places where (real) Christianity is being acted out.

    This is a rant, let me narrow this a bit.

    Your technology in the assembly is used to enhance the experience of people, to reach all of their learning styles. Your website is to broadcast your ability to reach these people and attract Christians who aren’t having their needs met in other settings.

    Finally, the last point that I would make about it is that you need good teachign first and foremost. I wish all the bad churches out there would have terrible technology so they don’t proliferate their bad ideas.

    All of this hangs on the teaching of the church. If you are not preaching a mmessage that impacts people in such a way as to bring about change, then you aren’t going to make new Christians who are serving, if you have no works, then you have nothing to show the world around you. You’ll bring no one new into the church and you won’t be attractive to other Christians either.

    It all hangs on the message being preached.

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