Thursday, April 4, 2013

Technology use and the local church

Last year I attended the Digital Society conference hosted by Seattle Pacific University. It was very well organised and a great line-up of speakers. One thing I was particularly interested in was whether churches had established policies for the use of social media now that we need to be conscious of privacy etc. Anyway there wasn't any clear answer. But I have been thinking of other issues with small community churches as well.

In my local church we have been pretty minimalist in terms of our new wave technology use. We have a reasonably good website, we now have mp3 downloads of the sermons and we have a facebook page

I wonder if it would be possible to build a document or spreadsheet of the trade-oofs in adopting particular technologies.

The sort of thing I have in mind is:

Electronic newsletters save trees but what percentage read them over printed newsletters.

We use powerpoints for the songs - bigger clear type, voices project to the front etc but that discourages use hymn books with the actual printed notes and even though I have never learnt to sing properly my singing is better when I see the notes.

As we drift to powerpoint we lose intimacy and spontaneity. Churches on occasions would have Sundays where the congregation could choose the songs, that rarely happens now.

As McLuhan observed technology has four effects so ask these questions:

  • What does the medium enhance?
  • What does the medium make obsolete?
  • What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?
  • What does the medium flip into when pushed to extremes?

  • Is it possible then as we adopt new technologies in Church to find ways of not losing some of the old practices that people enjoy and benefit from?

    This isn't necessarily about good and bad but developing a mix that caters for people and can have some healthy effect. So if every six months we had an unplanned service would that have the healthy effect of being an antidote to the professionalisation of Church service presentation - which was itself brought about by some of the unhealthy freeform practices that bordered on the unprepared and chaotic?

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