Ministry Today Magazine Cover Story, Nov/Dec 2006
From blogs to BlackBerrys, how the church’s love affair with technology is enhancing—and sometimes distracting us from—authentic ministry.
Sure, to the outside observer, the church may be the last bastion of traditionalism in society—what with the "smells and bells," pancake breakfasts and penchant for a Book written 2,000 years ago. But we insiders know better. From the printing press to the radio broadcast, believers have often been first in line to utilize a new technology.
"Christians own and use technologies in ways that are virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the culture," notes the Barna Group's David Kinnaman in a recent article in the United Methodist Church's Interpreter magazine. This means that people in your church are very likely to be actively participating in these broader tech trends [and that] your ability to minister with relevance will be affected by how you and your church embrace technology."
In his book Wired for Ministry, seminary professor John Jewell suggests that no one can seriously challenge the fact that technology has changed our world in every area. Everyone is affected by technology whether we use it or not. But, Jewell contends, there are cautions. Technology provides new tools, but not new theology; it can enable connectivity, but it does not guarantee community.
So, having issued this caution, what are some of the ways technology—both new and old—is being integrated into ministry. And what does the future hold for a new generation of "ministry geeks" who are pursuing new ways to spread an old message.