At the age of sixty-two, I am irritated by perpetual updates to the functions on my phone which make me continually learn new methods and techniques. I recognize, however, that to be a “technophobe” would diminish my effectiveness in the work of God. It would also alienate me from a significant segment of society. So from the perspective of one who is barely literate, here are some thoughts regarding technology—both its benefits and its dangers.
Technology Can Be a Bane When it Is Distracting
If the operators are not efficient, technology distracts from the message. The purpose of technology should be to draw our attention to the truth being presented, not to the technology itself. I’ve been some places where I’ve felt that those in the tech department were like a kid with a new toy. When technology draws attention to itself, even if the crowd is impressed by how “cool” everything is, it becomes harmful rather than helpful.
Technology Can Be a Bane if it Is Poorly Done
How many times have we waited for agonizing minutes while a mouse moved across the screen in an effort to get the DVD to play? How often have we been confused by the wrong verse of the song popping up on the screen, only to be rapidly replaced by another? How many times have we been embarrassed by a poorly done video? In my opinion, a good PowerPoint beats a bad video any day.
Technology Can Be a Bane if it Is Not Suited for its Audience
Depending on the demographics of your congregation and the part of the country where you minister, an overly slick presentation can leave the crowd more than a little bit uneasy.
Technology Can Be a Bane When it Replaces Person-to-Person Ministry
Technology can be extremely time-consuming. We must be careful that we do not spend so much time preparing great graphics to go with each song, announcement, and sermon that we don’t have time to knock on doors in our neighborhoods and win people to Christ.
Technology Can Also Be a Tremendous Blessing
It is intriguing to me that the Lord Jesus, when the crowds “…pressed upon him to hear the word of God” (Luke 5:1), stepped into the ship belonging to Peter and “prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land” (v. 3). This gave Him a separation from the crowd and allowed the water to be a natural sounding board to amplify His voice. This was arguably an early use of technology.
Technology Is a Blessing When it Is Used to Enhance Our message
A map placed on a screen during a sermon or a Bible study can greatly clarify and explain a passage of Scripture. An outline on the screen can help the crowd better understand the sermon. Following the words of a song on a screen is much easier for a visitor than reading them in a hymnbook. While it is true that it is helpful for some to read the music, there are others for whom looking up and singing is an advantage. (We use a screen for the words for the songs, but also announce the number from the hymnbook so people can make use of both methods.)
Technology Is a Blessing When it Improves Our Testimony
On our church bulletins and tracts, there is a QR code. People can scan this to give, fill out a visitor card, or access our church website. We also have our own church app, which includes sermon outlines, a Bible-reading schedule, the opportunity to give, and much more. Even for those who do not use this tool, it is a good testimony that we are “up to date.”
Technology Is a Blessing When it Helps Us Connect to People
Emails, group texts, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages are all ways to rapidly communicate our message.
Technology Is a Blessing When it Increases Our Outreach
The purpose of all advertising, in my opinion, is to prepare people for the personal message they will get from our members. If someone has seen an event mentioned on social media, received a postcard in the mail about it, and then gets a personal invitation, they are much more likely to be receptive.
Technology Is a Blessing When it Simplifies Our Lives
I seldom personally type emails to anyone. When I do, they are very short. It is much simpler for me to have a secretary print off my emails, then pick up a dictating machine, and dictate my answer. I can speak faster than I type. However, I do enjoy having virtually all my sermons on my iPad.
Everyone uses technology. The preacher who vehemently opposes the use of a screen has no objection to using an unnatural voice amplification device known as a microphone. He is happy to have a copy machine instead of a mimeograph and to have color pictures from the mission field rather than black and white.
Wise use of technology can enhance our message, increase our outreach, and improve our effectiveness.