For as long as there have been divisions of people into cultures, groups, villages, and tribes, one of the major underlying common denominators has been some sort of organized religion. Clearly, the focused goal in each of these environments has been to teach the “written word.” This in turn always brings forth the question of “what is the most effective way to teach the gospel to ensure the current congregation does indeed understand, and relate to the message?”
Aesthetics, comfort, eye and ear stimulation are all devices used to attract people into an area of worship. Throughout time, the talents and technologies available during each era have been used to achieve the most basic of common goals: “Spread the word of the Lord.” However, in trying to successfully accomplish these goals we have always had to find a way to do this while filling voids, to save as many souls as possible.
We have come to realize that the most basic of goals is obviously not simply achieved. For, you see, it seems that people in general, are not easily satisfied in their quest for knowledge of a greater spirit.
This observation can be justified time and again as we look throughout the ages. Granted, it is known that some of the most elaborate creations are meant to show our devotion to the Lord, but can we truthfully say that the overwhelming structures simply exist to solely express our abundance of devotion?
People are creatures who must be impressed, stimulated, challenged, and above all, comfortable. We must be able to justify going to a place on a regular basis to receive a message we so desperately need. Therefore, we attend a house of worship that fulfills our personal desires, understandings, beliefs, and comfort levels.
The great tribal ceremonies and rituals passed from village to village and to ornate cathedrals, all suggest that we must express emotion and be entertained as we learn. As empty as that sounds, remember- if the purest of messages is being received, and comprehended to be able to pass forth to the next person we meet- does it really matter how we receive it, as long as we are being taught in a selfless manner? We each must answer that question within ourselves and find our own comfort level, while trying to remain open to a change that could be beneficial to many.
However, in the past several years it has become blatantly apparent to me that it is necessary to grow with today’s technology if we want to once again re-claim the church as the center of community, and keep our future positive through the youth.
Everywhere we travel, and on a daily basis, we are saturated with technology. Advances in medicine, DVD players, film, the Internet, video games; electronics too numerous to mention constantly invade our lives- some positive, some the complete opposite. Our everyday existence has become a “Jetson” like production. Would we be at fault to not expect the same saturation of production in a house of worship? Would our attention wane or would we otherwise become bored?
Churches are spending millions of dollars each year to build new facilities or upgrade existing buildings to try and compete in a way that will reach today’s attention levels. Audio, video, and lighting are helping to convey the long sought after message in a powerful “new” way. These medians relay the strongest of emotions by helping to create an effective, spiritual, dramatic, and a highly emotional atmosphere.
Because the newest of technologies can create such a stronghold, it must be embraced. True, it offers a new environment in which to get to know the Lord. However, in doing so it also offers families alternative outings of social entertainment and family growth, as they are able to re-connect and re-examine their daily lives while learning together. We are able to reach thousands of people at one time, enabling us to help close in on an ever-growing void. In fact, if we are diligent enough we just may reach that one young person who might not otherwise understand.
First Baptist Church Naples (Florida) is one church that is trying to impact a generation by reaching out to the community using the newest technologies. They have recently undergone a major beautification as Spectrum Sound, Inc. of Nashville, Tennessee, recently completed a large-scale install. After completion, they were left with enough technology to help them achieve their goal of not having people become “bored, and leave the church before they truly come to know the Lord.”
Heath Miller, AVL coordinator for Naples, has seen hands-on what technology can accomplish. ” As a church we are trying to reach all ages using everything the Lord has blessed us with, including: lights, video, music, drama, and teaching. We offer many activities: youth group with a live band, college age meetings, youth contemporary choir, Bible studies for all ages, and through all of this the Lord is proclaimed and friendships are built.”
Of course, some older generations may not understand all of the “flash” if you will, but it is possible that one sweet grandma in the middle pew may have just heard the latest service in its entirety for the first time in years because of the latest listening device.
Who can say what the biggest, latest technology wave will be in the future when we seem so outdated? Should we worry about that or shall we keep trudging forward, remembering the importance of today? That is: receiving the message as it was meant to be taught, not how it is taught. Remember the importance of your family nucleus, and being able to greet one another as part of a larger family nucleus as we share the same Father, and the same house.
It would be un-imaginable not to embrace our talents and use technology to close all of the voids, making for a warmer, and more peaceful house. Perhaps, one day we will not shy from the technology that enables us to pass our knowledge on to a world, to fill even larger voids as we continue to grow and embrace!