Some weeks ago, I was handed a parody that depicted a church service entirely taken over by technology. Here’s an extract, slightly altered, to give you a flavour:-

PASTOR: Praise the Lord!

CONGREGATION: Hallelujah!

PASTOR: Will everyone please switch on their tablet, I-pad, Smartphone or Kindle and turn to 1 Cor. 13. 13.

Pause…

And now, please switch on your Bluetooth connections to download the sermon.

Pause…

The holy atmosphere of the church becomes truly electrified as all the devices begin to beep and flicker.

Now, let us pray committing this week into God’s hands.

Open your Whatsapp, BBM, Twitter or Facebook apps, and chat with God.

Silence…

As we take up our offerings, please have your debit and credit cards ready. The ushers will circulate card swipe machines along each row.

Some notices:

  1. This week’s Bible study will be held live on Skype at 1900hrs GMT. Please don’t miss out.
  2. A reminder that you can follow your Pastor on Twitter, Myspace or Blogspot throughout the week for comment, counselling and prayers.

God bless you and have a nice day.

Though we may laugh at this parody, as I did, we can’t deny that technology is playing a growing part in our lives. We have become more dependent on it and more susceptible to its failure as a result. Now, as you know I’m far from being a technophobe as I’m usually the one holding said electronic device(s). Yet whilst I am an advocate of technology that is innovative and useful, I am also a detractor of technology that seems to serve only one purpose – encouraging gullible consumers (yes, sometimes like me) to upgrade their precious gadgets to the latest model.

And yet however suspicious we might be of technology, or the profiteering that lurks behind some of it, we can’t ignore the fact that technological innovations have brought many benefits to the world. Some of us may lament the rise of the mobile phone, but in parts of Africa, mobile telephony has revolutionised the way people communicate. Being able to deploy mobile phone masts instead of costly and unreliable cabling has meant that many, previously excluded from telephone use, can speak to one another using an inexpensive handset and sim card.

Some of us (including me) may not use Facebook or Twitter, but I can’t deny that there are lots of really useful websites and online communities out there. Magazines can publish articles online and allow forums for discussion. People can produce their own blogs that allow them and their followers (sometimes on the other side of the world) to discuss the issues of the day. And whilst I don’t think we’ll be doing Bible studies by Skype anytime soon, I know people who rely on Skype as an affordable and personal way of speaking to loved ones living overseas.

Technology is not inherently evil, rather, like most things in life, it is how we use it that counts. As a church alive and at work in the 21st century, we should not stick our heads in the sand when it comes to technology. Instead, we should be encouraging wise and careful use of it, weighing up the pros and cons of technological solutions, and offering a cautionary note when technology is advocated for its own sake.

We shouldn’t be critical of technology just because we sometimes don’t understand it. Instead, as Christians, we are always called to try and see the world through the eyes of others, just like Jesus did. We can’t afford to be technophobes, and if we try we will only reinforce the view that we really are out of touch with the wider world. Rather, we must live out the extravagant welcome, grace and friendship that God offers to all, whether that’s through a Facebook post, or meeting up for a coffee, whether by email or on paper. Don’t be defined by what medium you use to interact with the world around you, instead be defined by how you use it and what you convey of God’s love through it.

        In Christ,

                                                Tim