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.