Technology and Ministry, Part 1

Technerd Click here to read the opinion piece in the Christian Chronicle, entitled, "Will Facebook kill the Church?" It's a brief discussion of technology's potential impact on the church. I don't believe we should fear technology at all…though we need to be aware of it's potential impact on the spiritual formation and malformation of people, it's impact on Christian community, etc. I, for instance, am not a fan of online church unless it's absolutely necessary—meaning a person is out of town, etc. Video teaching is legit…online church…not for me.

Nevertheless, most Churches of Christ, far from flinging themselves head-on into the technological revolution-generally ignore technology. This, to our own peril. Some of this is directly linked to our desire not to spend money–though a lot of today's technology can be hard for free or very little. Some is xenophobia. It's also a lot of work to learn new technology. But it's worth it.

I'm a big fan of using technology in service of ministry. At NCCC, we make extensive use of social media, pay a lot of attention to our website, and are preparing to launch streaming sermons through a mobile app to any IPhone, Android or Blackberry device in a couple of weeks. I blog, I have Facebook and Twitter accounts (2 in fact—@timspivey (personal) and @nc3preach (for the preaching ministry at NCCC), and I preach and read from an e-reader.

Many preachers have yet to harness the power of the e-reader for their ministry. Warning: technology can suck you in and become a huge time waster. However, if you are not an addictive personality, J technology can be a wonderful resource for you. It can increase efficiency, save you money, and yes, be fun.

I've been a Kindle user for some time, and have LOVED it. However, my curiosity got the best of me, so I ordered an Ipad to compare. I'll compare the two in tomorrow's post. However, let me give you some reasons to consider an e-reader for ministry:

  • You can have your whole library with you at one time. I used to pack a small suitcase of books for a vacation…now my library is less than a half-inch thick and weighs barely a pound.
  • The search features turn my library into a big concordance.
  • You can preach from it…though a larger screen device (Kindle DX or IPad) is best for this.
  • It saves trees…because I'm not printing 12-14 pages every Sunday or buying 10,000 pages of books every year. I'm not a big-time environmentalist…but it seems like a good thing.
  • E-books are cheaper. I just bought a book that is 34.95 in hardback for 9.99 on Kindle.
  • I can take advantage of small windows of time during lunch, waiting rooms, etc…because I can take an e-reader anywhere. Books can be cumbersome at a table. E-readers are thin and lie flat so I can eat and read.
  • E-readers are easy on the eyes. You can adjust the font size to whatever works for the eyes God gave you.

I don't think technology, Facebook, or anything else is likely to kill the church. In fact, in most cases, it can really help. So, tomorrow, I'll compare the Kindle DX and IPad…and offer some pointers on how to use these devices for ministry.

Question: Are there technologies you think might be harmful for the church in the long run? Which recent technology do you think is most helpful?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Share Your Thoughts

3 thoughts on “Technology and Ministry, Part 1

  1. I think tech is great. Facebook and Twitter have become my primary sources of communication. I get most of my news from Twitter, and much faster than TV.
    I like having a church FB page and Twitter account for the same reason. With a little effort, you can further the sense of community through pictures, events, reminders, and user generated content. Its also a great way for “outsiders” to see that a congregation is active. This cannot replace face-to-face fellowship, but it can help to get to know others better that you might normally only see across the room on Sunday.
    Church tech is great as long as its not overdone. Too many slides, etc can be distracting, but good videos, illustrations, and pictures can emphasize a point.
    I love my Nook, so I look forward to your Kindle / iPad review.

  2. Personally, I like Power Point presentations with lots of text that the preacher can read to me word for word. Or funny, pointless videos that lighten the mood, but offer nothing enlightening. Or touching cartoons about the crucifixion with stick figures…somebody stop me! Sorry, Tim, I just couldn’t resist. Power Point presentations have replaced church signs for inane communication.
    A few weeks ago I heard someone dramatically present the sermon on the mount and the congregation was absolutely mesmerized. It made me wonder if the original presentation of the gospel is still the most compelling and effective. Just one man’s opinion.