Technology in Church

7 05 2008

Recently the Barna Group released a report about technology in church.

Because my career in church media has been in larger churches, I always assume that more people are using technology than are. Only 2/3s are using a screen in worship? That is only up 3% in 3 years! Is it any wonder we hear that 90% of churches are in decline?

Yes, I did just equate using a screen with reaching people. Let me explain.

I believe that media is a cultural language. The world lives and breathes media. We used to talk about modern vs postmodern, but now we should discuss literate vs post-literate. More people get their information through audio and video images than through print. As “people of The Book” that should frighten us, just a little. And we should ask ourselves how we reach a culture fluent in “media”.

Who is fluent in media? Every human being who lives in 21st century America and has access to any of the following: TV, radio, internet, print, audio CD, cassette, movie, DVD, VHS, theater, concerts, etc… They expect to find media used in all walks of life, just like I might expect a sales clerk to know how to ring up my purchase.

When they go to a church, see a stage and musical instruments, they expect to experience media. I mean experience it beyond the basic facilitation that a light bulb and voice amplification. They unconsciously expect to see a show. It is our job to engage them through the use of media, so that the message can transform their lives.

How should we use media within the church? We use it to speak to people in a language they understand, and expect. To be most effective, media within the church should have the same syntax as media in the world. Our media will not have the same message, but should be easily understood by those who are fluent in secular media.

So, when people keep talking about how the church is in decline, and I see reports like the one from Barna (which does give some hope because the use of technology is rising) I can understand how we are missing an entire generation in the church. no, it’s not just about the tech. You have to have a message that can transform, but that message won’t be heard by people who dismiss you as old-fashioned, out-of-touch, and behind-the-times.

Engage the culture, let your message, our message, transform it, and let God transform their souls!

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5 responses

7 05 2008
Sean

I agree that connecting with the people through media is a valid media. But we must remember, You cant win souls through media only. If you do, you create baby Christians, addicted to tech, not the message. People don’t watch commercials anymore, but is that how we promote our ministries? I was watching a recent podcast by John Piper where he explains how it is important to be set apart from the world outside. His key argument is if we push to be so much like the world, then what is the difference to the first time visitor. We don’t want to give a Oprah, American Idol tech show to a person who is running from that culture, and into the arms of the church. Just look at the stats on the types of venues that are on the rise, Catholic, Presbyterian, Traditional church’s are where todays seeker is headed. I do believe that we should use it to enhance the worship, but people are turning off their tv’s for a reason, lets not become part of the white noise.

Here is the podcast I referenced : http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/DWYL/~3/280248927/dwy_pulpit.m4v

8 05 2008
Christian Technology and Media Carnival: First Edition | The Kingdom 2.0

[…] put out an article entitled “Technology in the Church.” It’s an interesting look at how technology ties in to the ultimate goal of reaching […]

8 05 2008
mediaslinky

That is a valid concern. I didn’t expand on it, but if the message isn’t transformative, there’s not point in doing “church” at all. Our message is the same as it’s always been, we just have to say it in a different language. There are people heading toward the liturgy they find in many churches, which is great… as long as the message they find there is transformative. The problem with churches that do more contemporary or blended worship, is that they have brought the basic trappings of concert/performance onto the stage. At that point the expectation is that media is used, and used well. (The same could be similarly applied to print work and bulletins) The extent of that use will be somewhat dictated by the worship/music style of the service. I wonder, in these liturgical churches, how do they use media within their tradition, are they using it well when they do, and are they actually growing?

21 05 2008
Carlos De Jesus

Although i agree that Media is essential I think you are jumping the gun on why “churches are in decline”. Media certianly helps, Media facilitates us in “speaking their language”… But I think the Church is in decline because of Fruit Defeciency not a media defeciency.. Show me a church that can love and forgive and have transparant exchanges with no media and I’ll almost guarantee there is no “decline”. Secondly what do you mean by decline? The health of a Church cannot be measured and or valued by the weekly attendance. I see packed churches across the US with no meaningful doctrine with little or no challenge to sin and sanctification.. but hey they have a lot of media!

28 05 2008
What Makes a Church Successful? « Ripechurch.com

[…] Makes a Church Successful? 28 05 2008 A comment on a previous post got me to thinking… How do you define a successful […]

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