Praising the Lord with microphones and Facebook

“Let’s sing a new song to the Lord!” And if it’s at all a modern new song, that means you might suddenly have a requirement for a bass, 2 guitars, keyboard, drums and 6-vocalists. Oh, my goodness – how do we make all that work. Suddenly, the neat new idea is in the “too hard” basket, and nothing ever happens. And it’s not just music;

Baby speaking into a microphone.
Are we just babies where technology is concerned?
  • “I have seen this really powerful video-clip that would be perfect to play as part of my sermon …”
  • “We have a funeral in a couple of days and the son is stuck in Northern India; he will be devastated …”
  • “Next week I have to attend a meeting in Blenheim – no one has the funding to fly me, but if I drive I won’t get back in time to lead worship …”

I have a job that gives me the opportunity to travel a lot, and as I travel I have been in conversations with people in the Church who are concerned that the way we tend to do things is not in touch with the ways of the world in which we live. We need to find ways to “translate” our message to make ourselves more relevant, particularly to our youth. “Better use of ‘Technology’,” they say, “is one way to do this. But we don’t know how.” Technology is not the be-all-and-end-all to being relevant, but it is useful.

I almost always counsel my secular clients against using Technology for Technology’s sake. I think that it is even more important that Churches adopt this principle. The mission of the Church is to communicate the gospel message, and if this message gets lost in the razzle-dazzle of technology and being relevant, then we have failed in that mission.

This is the first of what is hoped to be a regular column, focusing on practical suggestions, tips and strategies for using audio-visual and ICT technology in the life of the church. We envisage covering a broad range of communication systems, including audio systems, projection, email, productivity & collaboration systems, hearing aid loops, videoconference, streaming and social media. We intend to address many relevant usage scenarios such as worship, church meetings, office work, designing new systems and personal reflection. Some articles may be a simple “how-to” carry out some feature in a software package. Others may offer a strategic or theological reflection. While it currently seems most articles will be written by me, it is also hoped we may have occasional guest contributors.

Our hope is to be an interactive forum so we answer real questions – we invite your questions, suggestions and ideas for articles. These can be submitted either through the editor (if you are reading this on one of the paper incarnations), or by email to dct@sdcs.co.nz. We also plan to operate a website in conjunction with this column – a website focused around building a community of people who are interested in improving the way we can use technology, who can interact by a forum, asking questions or providing answers as they are gifted. The website will host supplementary material to the Touchstone articles – more detailed articles, videos and links to web resources that may not be able to fit in the Touchstone’s space requirement. Everything going well, by the time you read this article www.dct.org.nz will have a working website at the end of the link. (If not, please pray for me and patiently keep retrying till it appears.)

The examples above have been deliberately chosen to be difficult challenges in a mainline church – there are things we can do simply and easily that will make a real difference. They are also chosen to reflect things that have been done, but usually not very well. I look forward to our on-going conversation as we explore how to use our resources to enhance our Message.

Peter Lane is Principal Consultant at System Design & Communication Services and has over 30-years’ experience with Technology systems.  We invite your questions, suggestions and ideas for articles.  These can be submitted either through the editor or by email to dct@dct.org.nz.  We also operate a website focused on building a community of people who are interested in improving the way we can use technology located at www.dct.org.nz

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