On Technology and Church

On Tuesday we initiated a flurry of technological stop-gaps to the problem of not being able to gather right now. The role of technology in the church, however, deserves further reflection.

First, let me say, I don’t like not meeting together. Nor do I like technological substitutes for face-to-face contact. Not one bit. Because that’s just what technology is: a substitute. It’s not the real thing. That narrow internet wire running into your house strips away so much that we enjoy when we gather together.

Yet we need to think biblically about technology. But the problem is I can’t find the words “iPhone” or “Google” in the Bible. But I can find the word “wealth”. And when we realize that technology is wealth, then the Bible comes alive to us, in how we should wield technology. As someone else has said, we possess more wealth in our pocket containing our smartphone than Nebuchadnezzar ever had.*

The Bible’s basic approach to wealth is two-sided: receive it as a gift, and handle it with suspicion. It’s in doing only one or the other that problems come. Only receive it as a gift, and you’ll be naively blindsided by how easily it can entrap your heart. But only treat it with suspicion, and you’ll miss the opportunities to take right risks, spread the Word and gain ground for the glory of God.

This is how we are seeking to employ technology at the present time. It’s a gift, that we can text, call, FaceTime, live stream, stream shows, send email, etc. (Just as the book was a technological gift that spread the Reformation.) And, simultaneously, we exercise suspicion, not getting hooked by the shiny new app, or by endless streams of mindless drivel. Instead we use technology to connect to real people, in Word, prayer and fellowship – keeping the main thing the main thing. All the while treating it as an unsatisfactory substitute for the real thing. Technology should leave us dissatisfied, as we long for personal, spiritually-significant conversations; parking lot prayers; and vibrant times of worship, together.

We can apply all this to giving. We now offer online giving. It was uncomfortable for me, as a pastor, to discuss giving in yesterday’s email. But we have enabled it only provisionally; the elders will continue to discuss and evaluate its role in our life together. If you take advantage of the online giving option, my word to you is simple: do what you can to continue to connect giving with your worship. 


*I get this concept from Douglas Wilson’s book, Ploductivity.