Holographic blessing

Posted: January 6, 2011 in Leadership, Life, Me and God, Me and people, Science

What’s the line –if any, between using too much technology in church and not using enough?

As I was listening to a series of lectures on Biblical Preaching from a respected and prestigious traditional seminary, I was shocked when I heard the speaker mentioning the using of holograms by a local church in the Atlanta area. “Are you kidding me?” – I thought to myself. I knew some churches use video feeds to broadcast their main site’s sermon to other satellite locations –or overflow rooms, but, “hologram? The church is advancing faster than I knew!; this is cool!” I excitedly thought

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t surprised by the technology. I knew this was available in the market. One of the things that make my job fun is that week in and week out I get to discover, learn and test new technologies that later we get to implement on a variety of government applications related to homeland security and defense. I’ve seen and used holograms and Telepresence and other similar technologies but I was surprised to see it in use in a church.

Immediately I started researching and learned a bit more about who is trying it and how. The bigger shock came to me as I read some of the different comments, blogs and opinion articles in the matter.*

On the one hand, we have what I will call the Futurama believers”. I would define this group mainly and generally as one that argues that John, Jesus, Peter, Paul and the rest, used the best, greatest and latest in communications and technology available in their time (Roman roads, horses, carriages, local market, synagogues, boats in highly-acoustic lakes, Papyrus and so on) to spread the Gospel and therefore so should we.

If we were to judge by growth in numbers of attendance, It seems to work!. Most churches using modern technology and media/production approaches seem to be attracting people and –if the result is that those masses are hearing the message of salvation –The Gospel of Christ, and getting saved, then by all means, like Paul wrote to the Philippians (1:18): “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way…Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice”

On the other hand we have theIndiana Jones Believers”; those who argue that whatever method worked for Paul, Luther, Wesley and Spurgeon, should work for us as well. They sometimes seem to argue that the use of technology is gently but swiftly watering down the human element of Christendom making The Gospel just another faceless marketing area in this consumer-driven i-society. Not to mention the opinion that multicasting one preacher’s message to, dahh! Multiple locations, tends to centralize and idolize the preacher beyond the message.

And they may have a point.. or two. If a congregation of 200 or 500 or 5000 people ‘grow’ so much that they need an additional auditorium or an additional city or satellite church BUT only one person is found capable of teaching the Word of God in an acceptable effective manner, is the church really growing? Are we growing people to “go therefore” but not giving them the opportunity to do what they were called and gifted to do? What are we doing then with “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” ?  Even worse, is it the case that none of the hundreds or thousands is actually growing spiritually enough to teach the Bible?

I like technology, I use technology. I even want an iPad badly. I believe there is a place, and a use and perhaps sometimes a danger with technology. However, technology like most things in life, is morally neutral; the issue is not about what technology we use but why and how we use it. Some people may like to learn the Bible from a hologram and will fill the place. Some others may prefer the old style preacher-in-pulpit, we all have differences in preferences and there seem to be about 200 churches for each style and variation –even online-churches with video message, community chats and tithe-via-paypal bottons (I’m not sure about that by the way)

A good congregational and personal evaluation criteria may be: Is this technology or the lack of it helping us to live out Matthew 28:19,  Colossians 1:10 and 2 Peter 3:18 ?

“So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…”

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

 

*These are some of the articles I read:

The Christian PostTony Morgan,  Writing on a VTX, The Deliberate Disciple, Open Heaven, and Sola Dei Gloria.

 

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Comments
  1. Angela says:

    I don’t think the use of technology is bad, b/c technology itself is amoral- neither immoral nor moral. But I wouldn’t like having a hologram of my pastor teaching on Sunday mornings. Maybe I am just too old to be hip anymore.

    Maybe I am biased on the idea bc I don’t support the idea of satellite churches, where the same ONE pastor is teaching at all sites. We have seen churches like North Point and Grace and 12 Stones expand out to numerous campuses, but there are other pastors who are trusted to do the teaching and carry some of the leadership burden. When one man has all the power and is the only one permitted to teach.. well, we know what happens.

  2. Bob Chapman says:

    I wonder which camp you placed me (see the Writing on a VTX link, above). The reason is that I have no doubt that this technology has uses in education, but I question how much further it goes.

    Radio and television has been used to teach remote students for over 50 years. Holographic project can be an extension of that.

    When I question use purpose is evangelism and worship.

    The Billy Graham “crusade” method of bringing people to Jesus is somewhat misleading. Yes, if you put Billy Graham in front of a goup of people, he has the gift to be able to move people. Yet, placing this much credit in what one person does discounts the hours and hours of preparatory work done by people in local congregations before a crusade. (And, prayer is work.) This discounts the follow-up necessary for those who respond, much of which requires a personal touch. Having a focal point of all the activity is good, but it isn’t the whole story.

    Whatever we think about Bill Bright, his “make a friend, be a friend, lead a friend to Christ” is still how much people come to fully experience God’s love in their lives. Even if you make a friend using telecomunications, you need to show something in your life to interest your friend to go further in.

    Then there is worship.

    Worship is not watching a show. By its very definition, the “work of the people” (what “liturgy” means) is something meant to be done in a group, lest we forsake the assembly of the saints. It is not something done by Wii or Xbox. Over a year ago I had these uncompleted thoughts on this subject:

    http://blog.rrchapman.us/2009/11/a-collision-of-thoughts/

    If you confuse worship with a pastor’s teaching during a sermon, then you may not have a problem with holographs leading worship. But worship is more than the sermon, and a sermon isn’t just teaching.

  3. That’s a great observation Bob, the difference between just a sermon or singing AND worship as assembling together to ‘do’ church life.

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