Tuesday March 6, 2012
Last week I put out a simple question on Facebook and Twitter asking “What is new to consider in the areas of faith and technology?” After sorting through nearly 125 responses, I started to see some trends developing.
What was most interesting is that there was as much negative feedback about faith and technology as positive. Today I’d like to discuss 12 mentioned positive benefits of technology and faith. Tomorrow I will write on 12 precautions I heard.
Online Community and Discipleship
The response in regards to online community was overwhelming. It was by far the most mentioned benefit of technology that I received. From Facebook groups, Google+ hangouts, and Skype meetings, there was a strong affirmation of the benefits of video conferencing and networking on the Internet. Distance barriers are no more when it comes to online chats or video. The continued increase in the availability of high-speed Internet connectivity will only enhance this use of technology.
Simulcasts and Video Venues
A related topic, simulcasts and video venues have grown more and more common over the past decade. Regardless of your stance on video venues for multi-site churches, the ability and affordability to now simulcast sermons and conferences across the country and the world is a great benefit for the Kingdom. Next month, LifeWay will host a simulcast of Secret Church in which nearly 50,000 people will be led by David Platt in a six-hour study on the cross and suffering.
The Bible and Music at Our Fingertips
The second-most mentioned benefit of technology was the availability of the Bible through the digital medium. Need a verse of Scripture on the go? Just pull out your iPhone and open your Bible app. Want to keep up with a reading plan? Just use the app. Need some inspiring music to get you through the day? Open Pandora and listen to your favorite artists’ channel. Also, hymnals (with notes and hymnal like appearance) are now being made available as apps for the iPad. I’m guessing our grandparents didn’t see that one coming.
Increased Use of Video
Gone (for most) are the days of the overhead projector. With tools like ProPresenter and LiveWorshipand cloud-based worship planning, technology is more prevalent in corporate worship services than it’s ever been. Everything from sermon bumpers to announcements is being videoed. The church I pastor meets in a movie theater. When you have an 80-foot screen in your “worship center,” video is somewhat of a must.
Promotion of Events
Social media allows for more connectivity and information sharing than ever before. Facebook event notices, email reminders & invites, and shared calendars all can be used to schedule promote and plan events. Many times if there’s an event going on that you didn’t know about, it’s not because the information wasn’t shared. It likely was and you just missed it.
Church-Specific Social Networks
Social media has also spun off in to customized church networks. Web-based application like The Cityand The Table Project have brought specialized tools to churches that assist them in providing information about prayer requests, community groups, service opportunities, and much more.
The new .com for churches has become mobile apps. They have become simple ways to share podcasts, announcements, event details, blog posts, and prayer requests. They also serve as easy ways to share information about your church to potential visitors. As more companies have started making apps, prices have fallen as well. Companies like Roar or Subsplash can develop starter apps specifically designed for churches for a few hundred dollars.
Searchable Sermon Notes and Personal Notes
Taking sermon notes is nothing new. But the ability to catalog them digitally so that they are searchable and archived is. In-app notes can be taken with several Bible apps and exported, shared on Twitter and Facebook, or kept for later reading. We now have the ability to instantly recall what a pastor said about a specific verse or passage at any time.
Follow Conferences You Don’t Attend
Using Twitter now allows you to follow along with almost any live event or conference even though you may be hundreds or thousands of miles away. By searching for a hashtag in Twitter, you can see quotes, pictures, and all the details of what’s happening from people who are at the venue. And you don’t have to wait in the long lines for the restroom.
With great power comes great responsibility. This is no more obvious than in online community. One tweet, one status update, one blog comment. That’s all it takes for you to nearly instantaneously be reprimanded, humbled, or challenged. While many may see that as a negative, we should see it as a positive. We would be mindful to remember that online community should challenge us to carefully measure our words and to build one another up in love–not tear others down.
Growth of Networks and Resources for Missions and Church Planting
Online learning resources like Porterbrook have been instrumental in the development and training of leaders. Seminaries have online courses and degrees. Because of technological advances, learning and development are more accessible than ever. I just saw a seminary (from my denomination) that once spoke against online education now advertising for it on my Facebook page.
Prayer for an Area
Prayering for a specifically area is a regular practice in the lives of many believers. Thanks to Google maps and Google Earth, prayer for that can be done virtually. Praying for villages, people, neighborhoods, and communities you might never know existed is now as easy as pointing and clicking on a map.
Now that you’ve seen what others sent in, what positives might you add to the list?
On this day...
- John Owen - What Was Accomplished in Christ's Death? - 2012
- We need to know ourselves deeply - 2012
- The Eternal Gift of Salvation in Christ Jesus - 2012
- Grant that, to be loved as to love - 2012
- You will see heaven opened - 2011
- Zechariah 8:14-17 - 2011
- This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD - 2011
- Behold the man whose name is the Branch - 2011
- Newsletter Latest News - 2011
- The Epistemological Necessity – The Answer - 2009