A New Normal Experience

I just spoke at the American Baptist Churches’ biennium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I have to say, I haven’t had this much fun talking about technology in a long time. After my talk, there was 2 hours of discussion as pastors and leaders unpacked some of the ideas I presented (see previous blog for a powerpoint of that talk).  Here are a few issues that came up….

How do you implement technology into a multi-generational church without disenfranchising one group or another?  For instance, choosing to send information through Facebook or e-mail blasts or having meetings online, may not only miss some of the older generation, but may make them feel excluded. One pastor responded eloquently when she said it shouldn’t be an either/or, all or nothing propostion.  Her response simply emphasized for me how important it is to be wise and intentional about how and when we use a technological tool.

Is online communication really worse than face to face communication?  If the answer is yes, then we fundamentally need to figure out how to get people off of their technology and choose, as a church, to go against the cultural tide. What I propose is that although online communication is not the same as face to face communication, and in some instances is not appropriate, there are plenty of times when it is just as good, and sometimes even better.

We need to remember, that many of us see technology from an “immigrants'” perspective.  That perspective is hardwired to highlight the bad things about the new tools we use–“this new place will never be as good as the ‘old country'”. The “native” perspective, however, is one that sees the opportunity in the technology–and we can’t forget–there is plenty of opportunity. Technology is simply a natural way to communicate for lots of people that come to church.  And as the church seeks to find the new normal, seeks to find relevance in today’s culture, it simply wouldn’t make sense to avoid communicating in a way that is so natural to so many people.

Clearly, I could go on, but knowing blogs are all about short & sweet, let me just highlight a few more of the questions that came up:

is it really about the technology, or is there a bigger question?

if we want to implement more technology, what is “the big question” we need to ask our congregations?

how do we learn to do this stuff?!?!

how do you deal with cell phones in church?

what if our congregation is small and mostly older people?

how do we teach our young people how to use the technology wisely?

I hate technology–how do I lead my church to minister to “the new normal”?

how do we stay relevant?

Thank you American Baptists for an envigorating discussion….


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