theological reflections at the intersection of (my) perception with reality
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
If I Were a "Futurist"...
I would prophesy that the award for "most effective church" in the very near future will go to the one that successfully (and intentionally) integrates digital technology and social media into the life of its community.
How many of you stay in better communcation with your Facebook friends than with the people you know (or don't know) from your church? Facebook, MySpace, and blogging are facilitating the establishment and cultivation of "presence" in ways that the modern church simply cannot. As my friend and personal design/technology guru Joe Rueter (who got me thinking about this in the first place) puts it, social media is enabling us to create for ourselves a massive but personal, "digital porch."
In one quick glance at my Facebook page, I can see what my friends (some of whom I haven't seen in person in 15 years) are doing or thinking--or at least what they say they are doing or thinking. I'm notified of birthdays, job searches, baby or wedding announcements, and disappointments or accomplishments of various sorts. Think of it: A church that incorporates technology to facilitate the connection of the lives of its people. I'm not an advocate of "internet church," which runs against the biblical norm of church as a personal meeting in a physical place for worship, prayer, healing and mutual accountability. Rather, digital and social media should be utilized as a complement to what the church is already doing. Pastors could utilize blogs to inform the congregation of what he or she will be preaching or teaching about--and to solicit ideas or suggestions for future topics. Or blogs could serve as forums for discussion of implications and applications from sermons, Bible studies, and the like.
Who knows what all of this would look like, or what shape it would take in your own church community. But I suspect that the more technology and digital media ingratiates itself in the lives of people, the more inevitable the integration into church will become. Why not jump on it now?
How many of you are in churches that are already utilizing such technology? How are they/you doing it? Is it working? Is it changing things (for better or worse)?
I'm a theology professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN. I teach about Kierkegaard and postmodernity, theology and contemporary culture, the doctrine of salvation, theological perspectives on evil and suffering, and contemporary issues in the person and work of Christ. I enjoying cracking the mysteries of "Lost" with my beautiful wife, Sara.