I was recently in a discussion with a pastor whose leader suggested hiring a technology consultant. After some banter back and forth, where it became clear the pastor wasn’t interested he finally responded with, “When was the last time technology led someone to Christ?”
You can imagine the conversation pretty much died at that point, but I had the opportunity to continue the discussion with this pastor behind the scenes, and I wanted to share some of our discussion.
“When was the last time technology led someone to Christ?”
This question seems inherently flawed to me. That’s like asking “When is the last time your small group program led someone to Christ?” The easy answer to both questions is: NEVER.
Programs don’t lead people to Christ, but that doesn’t eliminate their value or effectiveness. Technology doesn’t lead people to Christ. People lead people toward Christ. Programs and technology are tools, methods, and environments that facilitate ministry. I’ve seen technology that does a better job than a lot of small group programs at facilitating genuine community. I’ve seen technology leverage Leadership Development better than most pastors. Technology is a tool for people to accomplish God’s mission. And the impact that technology has on our ability to engage the church’s mission is monumental!
Jesus Uses Revolutions in Communication Technology
The printed Bible is technology (though the technology is quite old). Gutenberg’s printing press at one time, was a cutting-edge technological tool that changed everything about how we communicate God’s word! How many people have come to know Christ because of how the church utilized that technology? How many Christian authors have been the catalyst for life transformation? Imagine if the church had refused to adopt printed materials. A lot of churches villanized the printing press and resisted it as a cultural change, yet it has done more for the church and we can begin to imagine.
We are on a similar crest of technological change. How we communicate as a culture and a people has changed, and continues to change at a rapid rate. If the church does not embrace cultural changes in how we communicate, it will quickly fall into missional impotence. Eventually it will be as if we never adopted the printing press – we lose the ability to communicate effectively with our world.
As a coach (and pastor) that helps leaders navigate through growth challenges with vision clarity, I serve churches with a lot of different perceived challenges. I can say fairly confidently, that any church (from new plant to Gigachurch) that’s not paying attention to their technology and communication is doomed to struggle continually with being less than their God-designed potential.
If an organization rises and falls on leadership, leadership rises and falls on communication. As Jenni Catron said in her book Just Lead – a vision is only as good as it is understood.
Jesus modeled this using parables, stories, and object lessons from an agrarian culture – because that’s to whom he was speaking. Being the God of the universe, He could have used far more accurate and detailed language. But He didn’t. Jesus communicated in concepts that were native to the Jewish cultural mindset.
So what does that mean for us?
If Jesus were walking personally in the flesh in the American culture, I am convinced that He would be using digital examples and object lessons that are native to the modern American mind to illustrate truth. Part of the responsibility of a consultant is to speak the cultural language of the churches we serve – and it is the church’s responsibility to speak the native language of the people it is their mission to reach and disciple. Because we live in a post-digital revolution, technology awareness and effectiveness is part of the praxis of ministry.
Maybe unfollowing is the modern equivalent of shaking the dust from your feet.
>> So what is your church’s biggest communication/technology challenge?
Check out Ed Stetzer’s article on getting started in social media HERE.