Category Archives: Technology

The End of Community?

I ran into a fellow pastor the other day at Starbucks, hard at work.  I figured he was working on his sermon for next week, but instead he was working on his Facebook page.  To be more specific he was working on his list of friends.

blank-facebook-page-layout_699492“I am sorting them into lists, making sure that no one in my congregation sees anything political,” he said.  “Apparently we have some long time members who have decided to leave our church, not because of anything I have said in a sermon, but because of what I have posted on Facebook.  So I am sorting my lists, making sure no one in my church knows who I really am.”

It was a story that I am sure resonates with so many pastors. 

A friend in another city recently told me that she really didn’t want to know what her pastor thought.  “I really don’t want to know how my pastor feels about anything political.  I just want to come to church and hear the gospel.”

This isn’t a new problem.  The lectionary passage this Sunday is from I Corinthians 3, where Paul is bemoaning the fact that the early church had chosen up sides.  Now it just seems that it has gotten worse.  As technology has made it easier for us to form community, it is also dividing us into segments. 

So what does this mean for church, for community? So how is any pastor to preach “with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other?” 

As I walked out, I thought about the irony of my pastor friend.  This one who is called to form community is being forced to shut himself off from community in order to preserve community.  Is it even real? Is that what we want to incarnate in the church?  Is that what we have come to?

I wonder if I need to segregate my “friend list?”



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A Different Stewardship Campaign!

I read a lot.  Before breakfast I have usually read three papers, gone through Zite to see what I have missed!  Then there are emails and Facebook and Twitter.  And that is before I come to work!  Here, there is always a cornucopia of information to read, and it seems to come from all directions.

I’m not making this up!

I still get faxes!  (You remember, the machine that looks like a printer through which you can send documents to another person?  Yeah, that door-stop-thingy!)  On an almost daily basis I sacrifice lots of trees so that I might know about a “Holiday Wreath Fundraiser Program,” (2 copies this week) “Telephone Giant” is waiting to hear from me to buy all types of used telephone equipment; I should look at these LOWLife Insurance rates; and I can take advantage of fall rates on 4 Days & 3 Nights in Orlando or a Bahama Cruise all for just $199 per person.  (If you want details on any of these wonderful offers, contact me today, before the trash is taken out!)  It doesn’t matter how many times I call, email and fax them to say “Take me off your list of wonderful offers,” they still come!

But today was different!  Today I got one from a Collection Agency!  Immediately I thought, what have I not paid?  But NO!  They were offering to collect for us!  “We are a licensed and bonded collection agency.  We offer a full array of receivable solutions that ensures you receive the best rate of return possible.”

How did they know we are about to start our stewardship campaign?

Think of the notice they would send.  “Do you know what you owe God?  EVERYTHING, and we are here to collect!  We are willing to negotiate, say, $.50 on the dollar.  Too high?  Well, since you are willing to deal with this, what about $25 on the dollar?  But that is as low as I can go!  You don’t want this to get messy!”

Just think of the possibilities!  No more guilt producing sermons that talk about money!  No more anxious nights wondering if the youth will have to hitchhike home from camp!  No more pondering on whether to pay the pastor or the light bill!  (Correct answer–the pastor!)  No more of those pesky little financial problems!  Just turn it over to  (I didn’t even know they were a Godly service!)

Perhaps this is why I have kept the fax machine beside my desk!  Now if only a wonderful sermon service would fax their services!  And how about wedding-by-fax?

Ahh, ministry is getting easier by the minute!

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I So Want This, I Think

Sitting in the doctor’s office this morning with my mother gave me time to catch up on all the magazines that I don’t get at home.  There is the way-back issue of Sports Illustrated (circa 2009,) a few copies of Better Home and Garden (I just don’t think Anita can ever get our yard looking like that–not unless we win the lottery!) and surprise-surprise, the current issue of Time.

As much as I wanted to read all the articles (we are a Newsweek family at home) most were too long to begin knowing that at any moment we would be called.  Time is so short now!  So I just flipped through till I came across this article.  It is by James Poniewozik, and let me know about a new device, Auto Hop,
that will allow me to skip prime-time commercials automatically–if I had the Dish Network.  Is this a great world or what?

Only Poniewozik had to go and raise the ethical question.  Is this stealing a show?  After all, these shows are paid for by commercial dollars.  Advertisers are the ones who are paying millions of dollars to make sure the Bachelorette gets to go to London next week.  Is it moral to skip over them, to ignore them?  (Ok, do morals even count when you are watching the Bachelorette?  Really?)

As Poniewozik points out, it is a new world–one that TV producers, advertisers and watchers will have to come up with a new paradigm.  As he says, “Your business used to be about giving everybody the same thing the same way: same Bat-channel, same Bat-paradigm. That’s over.”

The same thing is true about church.  Not that long ago we knew that 11:00 on Sunday morning was when worship happened.  That’s All!  If you were too sick to go to church you were too sick to go to the pool.  No self-respecting individual would mow their grass on Sunday morning.

But now…We drop the number of printed worship guides because there is a soccer tournament.  Some churches have done away with printed worship guides all together–relying on screens and other demonic devices.  I even hear about some people reading/listening/watching sermons online.  (For the latest sermons from Providence click here!)  And not even on Sunday!

It is not easy shifting paradigms as we move into a post-Google world. How we watch TV, how we worship, how we interact with each other–it is all changing–sometimes too fast for our comfort, especially for those of us who work in church.  We can protest all we want about how that really isn’t what God intended, and how if people really loved Jesus and me they would be here at 11:15 on Sunday morning (or at the very least at 9:00!)  But the truth is that our world is changing and we are going to have to ask some really tough questions–like what does it mean to follow Jesus?  Is Tweeting theologically different from taking notes?  Would Jesus still read out of a scroll?

Someone has to ask these questions.

In the meantime, I really do want an Auto Hop!

Read more:,9171,2115627,00.html#ixzz1wx2FXPOk

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