The overture has begun and the lights are dimmed. The last member of the audience has found a seat and the stage is ready. When the last of the music dies away, the first actor appears on stage.
It is this person’s duty to give a highly produced and electronically supported list of reasons to attend other events hosted by the theater. They warm the audience with carefully selected humor and wit. After all, this person is the opening act. The reasons given are in some ways a plea for support, but they are disguised as “fun” activities.
When it seems that the audience is about to lose interest, the theme quickly segues into a topic that is connected to the opening number, and before you can realize it, the show has begun. Each song is carefully selected to support the “main” theme, and the pauses are filled with music that trails quickly into either the next song or the next dialogue.
It is as though it would be a crime to have a moment of silence. Large screens proclaim the script so that the audience won’t miss a single line. The sound and light systems are carefully designed to enhance the show. The staff needed to operate the equipment often outnumbers the actual cast.
Have you seen this show? It plays all across our land each Sunday morning. We call it “Church”. Only we don’t usually describe it with such little reverence. We use words like “worship” and “spirit” and “ministry”. We are very careful not to give the impression of a “show”. Or are we? Or should we?
Before you assume that this column is a platform on which I am going to stomp around with a “Thou shalt not use high-tech devices” attitude, I ask you to hear me out. You see, I firmly believe in technology as a tool and I think that it is a shame for a church to not employ its wonderful benefits for outreach.
Recently, I was in my local Christian bookstore. I was looking for some of my favorite concert videos and movies in the new DVD format. In short, I went away sorrowfully. I was told that as yet I could not get them in this format. Bummer! The clerk explained that the reason was because the publishers were waiting to see if the DVD format “catches on” before they release the Christian products. I really understand this and I don’t think that they are wrong. I’m still bummed though.
But this did get me to thinking. Have we allowed the same mentality to determine our course in the church? Have we sat on our hands while the world wooed and entertained our “mission field”? What can we do to catch their interest?
We must first identify whom we are trying to reach. God has a message for everyone, but He gave us the task of getting the message to them.
We live in an electronic age. It is filled with cell phones, beepers, pocket organizers, and laptops. For the last several years, I am told that computers have outsold televisions. There is no doubt that we are in the 21st century! And we are yet to see where all this goes! Hang on to your hat!
What does this mean to the church? I think it’s simple. We must be using every avenue possible to proclaim the gospel. In the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25, Jesus explains how the faithful servants took their talents and used them to develop more. They turned the talents into tools. We have this wonderful tool box from which to draw. Rather than decry it as a tool of the devil, we should employ technology as an effective method to pique their interest and bring the lost to salvation.
As an example, when I was a child, we would not think of going to church without our Bible. Today, most people do not carry their Bible to church. Most seekers do not even own one. Perhaps it is our duty to put the Word before their eyes. What better way than by projecting it on a large screen for all to see?
Jesus spoke to the crowds from mountaintops and hillsides. He preached from a boat and in the synagogue and He gave His greatest sermon from a cross.
Paul found Mars Hill from which to preach as well as prison. They both used the props and tools available to them. We should do the same. Never compromise the message to enhance the show, but don’t make the method sacred either. Your ministry is God’s gift to you. Guard it, but use it!
I expect to give more specific examples of how to use the tools of technology to enhance ministry in upcoming issues. Until then, you are in my prayers.