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The Future Church influenced by Technology

Technology is a powerful agent that shapes those who use it in ways that are often unintended. For example, Air Conditioning has been credited with being one of the most culture-altering technologies because people tend to stay inside more- isolated from the community around them. As the Church we can see this unintended technological consequences as well. Consider the printing press, something we celebrate as believers who are now better able to study God’s Word. One of the unintended consequences of the printing press is the growth of individual interpretation over a communal interpretation. This has led to denominationalism and the elevation of personal interpretation. The Future of Online Church Add to this a Bible where the chapter and verse were printed, it influences a move from seeing the Bible in it’s whole as a story, to approaching it as a dictionary or encyclopedia of facts and trivia. (Concepts presented at my session at Echo: A Look into the Near & Distant Future of Online Ministry)

As we are in another significant technological revolution it is important to consider how technology may influence the church, and what unintended consequences could impact future generations. Here are three I’ve been thinking about:

1. Sickly Online Christianity – With the increased access online to preachers, teachers and resources many Christians may try to self-select their own content rather than participating in the life of a community. One unintended consequence is people will only seek out the things that interest them, therefore they will avoid the whole counsel of God’s Word.

2. Homogeneous Digitized Churches – With technology, more churches will find ways to automate and/or systematize their discipleship programs. These programs will tend to be one-size-fits-all with a small variation. These Christians may develop homogeneous traits thereby trending toward an inability to use the diversity of the body to ward of heresy and/or be equipped to be healthy replicating community.

3. Internet Generation: Bible Illiterate – Recently a speaker at a church conference said 85% of content will be video in 2015 (if I recall or some date thereafter). Video is a powerful tool that brings many benefits but an unintended consequences could be more Christians relying on and learning through this video teaching rather than studying God’s Word on their own, becoming increasingly Bible illiterate.

Online MinistryAs someone who is involved in serving thousands of churches with websites, technology and media I don’t want to appear an alarmist as I’m thankful for many of the blessings the Internet and technology has brought to the greater Church. My desire is that more thoughtful theological consideration and prayer will continue to surround the websites, applications and technologies we endeavor toward as they do impact the user in ways we may not have considered or intend.

6 Comments

  1. Good word Drew! I agree with you. As many are excited about the value technology brings to the church, it is important that we stop and carefully examine the theological implications of our methodologies.

  2. Technologies are bringing new ways to share and communicate the gospel. But, you are right in reminding us of not only what they can do but what they can undo.

    Dr. Albert Mohler said, “It is very important that Christian leaders, pastors, teachers, those with responsibility figure out, prayerfully, devotedly, together in conversation and mutual accountability to the Lordship of Christ how it is we will make use of these technologies.

    We will have to answer some hard questions. Are there technologies and technological platforms and means of social communication that are wrong? How do we establish the right kind of boundaries?

    One of the greatest challenges to come to the church in our generation is to determine how we may be both connected and faithful.”

    May God give us guidance.

  3. Drew,
    Great to meet you at Echo. Enjoyed your breakout and chatting with you the last day.

    Seeing your presentation here reminds me of a very important question I didn’t get a chance to ask: What’s that font you used for your main slide headings? I’m a big fan…

    John

  4. Nice John. I believe Gothic.

  5. I think there’s a balance here that needs to be understood. Churches must stay relevant with technology, yet they need to understand the urgency of not diluting the core values of theology and doctrine. (II Timothy 3:16)

    Using technology and installing the latest and greatest production elements will not guarantee delivery of relevance to congregations. Technology can ONLY HELP CONNECT and CAPTIVATE the audience. What’s spoken, and taught otherwise regardless of DVD small group series, or HD satellite campus is entirely up to ministry leaders and how they keep their flocks focus on the core values that need to be constantly taught in a consistent form.

    There’s a blog on our web site talking about the relevancy of this with technology and success of one churches methodology doesn’t mean it will be successful for another. Check out the month long series by going here: http://www.evidentproductions.com/events-technology/churches-and-technology-vegas-day-1.html

    Bottom line I agree with thoughts Drew. The bogus thought that “success for me exactly is defined= what someone else has found to be successful” is plaguing ministry regardless of denominations today. Each church must find out how to uniquely connect with their audience, culture and community in their own unique ways. Some components others have found successful surely can be used, but becoming a clone of a successful church doesn’t mean yours will connect as effectively.

    Great blog.

  6. I think that in the same vein, social networking has played a huge role in generating unintended social and spiritual consequences. Now we have whole “communities” of people who are in contact with one another but not necessarily in communion.

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