Monday, March 15, 2010

Embracing Technology

I write this sat on a train back from a leaders meeting in Lincoln, connected to the free in carriage wifi. That ranks as pretty cool in my book. Technology is evolving at an incredible rate, and I want to encourage us to be a people who embrace technology and make it a tool that works for us.

I have to admit that I love technology. The computers that I help design in my 'other' job are used to make films like Avatar as well as do a load of other exciting things. I'm not sure how I'd exist without my iPhone and having all my contacts, email and diary to hand as well as being able to Tweet and Blog on the move. But I'm not interested in technology for technologies sake, but what it can do to enhance our lives and our community.

First we need to admit that there are plenty of reasons to think of technology as being dangerous. You'll have seen the news last week of the young girl who was murdered by a sex offender who ensnared her using Facebook. And the internet has undoubtedly made it easier for people to get easy access to pornography - no longer do you need to risk being spotted buying some dodgy magazines from the top shelf at the newsagents. And on a lighter note how many people rue the day their partner got an internet enabled phone which seems to demand their attention every waking hour (I'm very bad at this!).

So we need to be careful. We need to be aware of what our children are up to (easier said than done). We need to be accountable on the websites we visit and the things we view. And we need to set boundaries and have clear boundaries on when the iPhone and Blackberry get turned off (I'm still working on that one).  The issue of boundaries is a key, and one I can expand on in a future blog if anyone would be interested.

But let's grab the opportunities.

First of all to be personally enriched through the internet. Some things I do are:
  • The Youversion Bible website has revolutionised my daily reading of the Bible. If you're not already using it why not sign up to a reading plan today and get started.
  • Signing up to other peoples blogs helps me keep up to date with some of the latest leadership thinking - Mark Batterson is one of my favourites.
  • Listening to podcasts allows me to listen to world class communicators - even if it is slightly intimidating - Andy Stanley is one of my favourites.
  • Reading newspapers online means you're always reading the latest news - and it's free!
Then we can use the internet to build community. When we first set up the new church website we thought people would use the chatrooms on there to keep in touch, but what we've now realised is that it's so much better to using existing tools like Blogs, Facebook and Twitter. I have to admit to not being a huge fan of Facebook, I'm frankly not interested that your Farmville crops need fertilising, and I'm sure that something better is going to replace it fairly soon. But I have seen people use it to great effect to announce everything from a prayer request to a need for babysitters to the death of a loved one. Nothing will ever replace face to face interactions (I always find it strange to see two people wandering along together both on their mobile phones - I always wonder why they don't just talk to each other) but online tools can really help us to keep in touch and connected. And in our new post bulletin era the blog and the church website can be a much more immediate way of disseminating information.

And finally the internet can be a great way for us to spread the gospel. Just as the printing press fuelled the reformation I believe the internet can fuel another great awakening of the message of Jesus Christ in the hearts of people far from him. Whether that's sending an email to invite your workmates to The Vigil, keeping the church website up to date with stories of people finding Christ or writing blogs to speak into the issues of the day, God can use it all.

Anyway, we're just coming into Kings Cross so I'll press publish before they turn off the wifi!



Matt ranger said...

Reply using my iPod ;-) technology is great.
I started using youversion when you mentioned It back
at the start of this year. It has revitalised my daily Bible
reading, I thouroughly recomend it. Thanks for the extra
suggestions you make in this blog. Matt

smatt said...

Totally agree! God is totally opening up the web to me right now and specifically how anyone can broadcast to the world through blogging.