The iGeneration handles technology comfortably and easily. They are “natives.” Others of us (who remember life before computers) are “immigrants.” These terms are not new.
Yet, while some of us are scrambling to “find an App for that” or work out how to sync our devices to “the cloud,” an important conversation seems amiss. How does technology shape our understanding of God, of the church, and of faith itself? Make no mistake; its impact is profound.
It seems that many Christians ask “How can we use technology for the Kingdom of God?” rather than the more fundamental question “Should it be used?” At the risk of sounding like a Neo-Luddite, I’d propose we ask the latter question a little more often.
Video-streaming has made the multi-site church possible and continues to change our core understanding of the church. Canned laughter built into pre-recorded sermons, and careful filming efforts to create the illusion of genuine “presence,” surely raise questions about integrity (not so much truthfulness as wholeness and authenticity). The cameras demand genericism.
Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook turn local pastors into mini-celebrities (much “liked”), while church management programs seek to identify “at risk” people who may be slipping through the cracks; a task done personally by pastors in days gone by.
How does technology drive us to a greater awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit in us and among us? Does technology deepen and affirm the work of Christ in a local community, or does it gradually and subtly supplant it? Is technology—some technology—counter-productive to “walking by the Spirit”?
I’m not suggesting we return to the Middle Ages or an ascetic monasticism. Nor do I want to somehow extol the past as “a golden era.” But if we do not question the trends and technology of our day as they re-shape our understanding of the Kingdom of God, we might find ourselves drawn into something other than what Jesus intended. As Marshall McLuhan famously said: “The medium is the message.”
How have you seen technology re-shape our theology?