Technology and the Church (part 2)

I said that today's post would discuss some specific ways you or your church can use technology to enhance your ministry.  But since I have already written about RSS and Twitter, you can just go back and read those posts.  I will focus today on your church website. So here's the question - Is your church website important?

The answer is yes and no.

Yes it is important, because it demonstrates to both your church members and prospective members that you are not complete luddites.  Why on earth would people assume that the church is made up of luddites?  Let's have a look at David Kinnaman's unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters.  This book is written around a survey of the unchurched and their views of the church.

Number 6 on the list is that the church is out of touch with reality. Now, we know this not to be true, every member of every church lives in the real world.  We have the same struggles and difficulties as everyone else.  We just have our faith to carry us through these difficulties.   But the fact is, everything has a website.  Every book, movie, elementary school, hospital and teenager has a website.  If a church does not have one, they are somehow disconnected from the reality of the world.

Number 4 on the list is that the church is old-fashioned.  Read the previous paragraph.  What better way to prove the old-fashionedness of your church than to be stuck in an era before the internet.

I said that the answer to this question was yes and no, so let's briefly deal with the no.  In reality, no website is going to bring hordes of people to your church.  The lack of a website will certainly turn people off, but even the greatest church website ever will not bring people to your church.

Interested people will visit your website and they will want to learn as much about you as possible.  I personally believe that they would rather visit your website and learn about you anonymously than to be visited on Tuesday night as part of church visitation.

Here you can see the most popular pages for

So what must any good church website include?

Who we are What we believe Info on Church programs Directions Staff information Current Information

By far, the most important of these is current info. Having a badly out of date church website may be worse than not having a church website.

Feel free to tell me in the comments how wrong I am. That your church is awesome without a website, or that the church website is directly responsible for doubling your church size.

Technology and the Church (part 1)

Yesterday I spoke at the NSRBA pastor's conference.  For years I have been attending that meeting, but I usually stay quiet.  Most of those men have been pastoring longer than I have been alive, so I often feel unqualified to contribute. I always thought that when I had something to contribute, I would.  Back in December I realized that I did have something to add to the conversation in that room, so I asked to speak. I taught on technology and the church.  It was very well received, and since it's already written, I thought I'd post about it here on my blog.  That concept works for Ed Stetzer, why not for me?

We'll begin with a video. You've probably seen it before, it's been posted on many a blog.


To me, largely a product of the information age, this video is a bit frightening.  But I think it illustrates the neeed for the church to embrace technology.  We are already losing ground in the culture wars, and without tech, soon we will find we are fighting a war on different terms.  (Mennonites and Amish likely live fulfilled lives and people admire them to some degree, but they are not evangelizing the world.)

What is Technology? It's hard to define, but I'd call it the use of engineering to interact with our world differently.  For almost everyone there is a certain era of technology beyond which they never advance.  Some folks never get beyond movable type, invented by Gutenberg.  (Though I'll admit, I've never heard anyone say, "Scrolls were good enough for Isaiah, they are good enough for me.") Some maybe never advance past the television.  Even though they are no longer made, some people may be stuck on the VCR even though the DVR is superior in every way.  And many preachers especially never got past the wireless phone.

Why does technology matter to the church? Well for one thing because it is changing the way the youngest generation interacts with the world.  According to neuroscientist Susan Greenfield, our brains are literally being rewired.  I think I can demonstrate the way technology has changed your life with just a short quiz.  When is the last time you memorized a phone number?  I literally only know one phone number today that I didn't know when I was 15 years old.  When you are searching for a Bible pasage, how often do you use a software or internet Bible instead of your concordance?  I wrote a blog post about this quite a long time ago I call the phenomenon, the death of remembering stuff.

If it's afecting me, in my 30s, what about the millennial generation?

Is the digital divide equal to the generation gap? What I am asking in this question is; is the inability for one generation to relate to other generatons caused by, or even equal to, the differences in the way we use technology.  Barna published a recent study that highlights the digital divide and the generation gap.  The younger you are, the more central tech is to your life.  The moral of the study is that the digital divide doesn't cause the generation gap, but it highlights it.

Is the technological takeover wrong? In short I would say that the technology is morally neutral.  Surely there is a moral component to the utter dependance upon tech to communicate and function, but the technology itself is neutral.

Can't we just call the younger generations stupid and get on with our lives? Certainly you can, but you might as well be telling them to go to hell.  Jesus died for kids who only know how to talk through a cell phone, just like he died for fogies who think putting hymn lyrics on a screen was thought up by Satan.

If you are of a certain generation and simply cannot understand the mind of millennials, maybe you should view them as a people group to be reached.

Tomorrow in part two, I will address some specific ways your church can use technology.

Another post about politics

Please be sure to read the * at the bottom for my disclaimer. Last Tuesday I wrote a post complaining about, among other things, covering elections by polls. Then I promptly went out last Wednesday and read this Zogby poll.  It is very telling.

Today I want to post about politics again, but this time from a different angle. Before I begin I want to say that I am certain that no hope for this world, or for our country is found in politics, but only in the gospel of Jesus. (You can read more of my thoughts on this subject here, in what I consider my best post ever.)   It does, however, matter how we vote.

So how should responsible Christians think about politics? There are those who would say that there is nothing to think about; we are Republicans, right? Then there are those others who would say that the Republican party is too ungodly they don’t care about the environment and they are only concerned about money so we are to be Democrats. My pastor says look at the party platforms and see which you are. (Here are links to the Democratic and Republican platforms 2008 version.) I must admit that at 123 pages I did not read both platforms.  I did, however, skim them both, and my conclusion is that although the two sides are in opposition on most major issues, there is plenty covered by both parties that I can disagree with.  (I disagreed with a lot more in one than in the other)

How are we, as responsible Christians, to vote?  It seems that it comes down to issues and how a particular candidate feels about those issues.  Let's imagine that there are only a handful of issues, even though in reality there are more like hundreds,  those issues include:

  • The economy (it's the economy, stupid) or see here
  • The war on terror, including the Iraq war
  • Technology issues, such as net neutrality
  • Sanctity of human life issues
  • Defining Marriage
  • Healthcare
  • Immigration
  • Energy policy, including climate change policy
  • Social security
  • Issues of privacy vs. security
  • Crime control

Here is where it becomes more difficult, it is not  as simple as merely dividing up the candidates by their positions, seeing who is on my side more often, and selecting that candidate.  The fact is, these issues do not all weigh the same.  If I am in agreement with one candidate in his view of net neutrality and another candidate in his view of the sanctity of human life, (which, in fact, I am) those are not equal issues.  Both are important, but it is more important to protect human life than to protect the internet from the greed of the telecoms.

For quite a long time evangelicals have been considered a two issue group. However, lately there is this notion in the media that evangelicals are no longer interested in the same issues.  This is largely brought on by Rick Warren’s movement to assist with AIDS in Africa and the recent statements by evangelicals on global warming. In response I will quote Dr. Daniel Akin, who said his [SEBTS] presidential forum last week, “We’re not looking for a different moral/social agenda, but we are looking for an expanded agenda.”

I would agree with that statement totally.  What I am saying is that Christians should still be committed to the issue of the sanctity of human life in all its forms, from the youngest to the oldest. Christians should still be concerned about defining marriage legally the same way that it is defined biblically. Those, however, should not be the entire list. We should be concerned about the poor in our nation and around the world.  We should be concerned about those in war-torn parts of the world.  We should be concerned about the AIDS epidemic both in Africa and in America, and we should be concerned about the way we care for our planet.

I guess, 700 words into this post, it's time to reach some conclusions.  So let's ask the question again; How should a responsible Christian vote?  At the very least a Christian should be educated about the candidates, know their views on the issues, and vote according to his or her beliefs.

It is also imperative that Christians know which issues are most important.  In the Zogby poll I mentioned earlier, the number one issue by a landslide was the economy, and that was before the disastrous events of last week.  I submit to you two things.  First, the president actually has very little control over the economy.  The current issues have arisen from corporate debt, and the next collapse is coming because of personal debt.  Second, don't sacrifice morality for money.  What I'm saying is; it's not the economy, stupid.

A final word. Vote! Don’t ignore your local elections. In all reality, your mayor, or governor or city councilman will have much more effect on your life than the president. Voting for president is important, but don’t ignore your local elections.

[polldaddy poll="946871"]

* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church.  They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church.  They are my views as an individual.

It's Pretty Amazing What You Can Do With Just a Few People and Technology

I wrote a post for Monday but I can't quite bring myself to post it.  I'm sure you'll see it later.  In the meantime, read somebody else's blog and enjoy this video.  It's pretty amazing what you can do with some time and technology [youtube=]

RS Wha...?

This is day 2 and post 2 But if I am realistic, I know that if I manage to keep a regular blog, it won’t be daily. So how are you, my reader to know that I have a new post up? You could visit every single day. That would look good on my stat counter, and would probably be good for my ego. But the much better answer is - via RSS.

If you don’t know what RSS is or if you do but aren’t using it you are missing out on half of the internet. RSS is what allows podcasts to work and it the quickest way to view a plethora of sites every day. (I read 30, not counting my podcasts) RSS stands for really simple syndication and it basically lets you know when blogs, podcasts, and websites are updated. It allows you to read them without actually visiting them in your browser It works much like e-mail with a headline (subject) and a preview pane that lets you read the body of the post. I prefer to get my feeds via my e-mail program. As a service to you, I’ll recommend a few excellent programs or services to help you read feeds.

I use Thunderbird as both my e-mail client and RSS reader If you are a yahoo mail user, the new format has an RSS section Gmail has a feed section (but I really don’t like it) a much better option is If you use Microsoft Outlook, then try News Gator which works as a plugin For Firefox users, (hopefully all of you) there are many extensions, none that I really love, but Wizz seems well supported and good

If anyone else has a suggestion they particularly love, leave it in the comment section.

I’ll end this post with the feed address of several of my favorite blogs and sites, there are no podcasts in this list

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