As I said in the last post, there are four basic approaches to technology. Those four approaches are:
Let’s look at each one of these a little more in depth.
There are many reasons, ranging from financial to theological as to why churches will not adopt newer presentational technologies. To not use new technologies is not always a bad thing. Some Christians insist that we must use them to stay relevant to the surrounding culture. But this is not always a must. One get’s a sense of something like this in the interview with Mark Driscoll by Justin Brierley. This sort of, “Hey we’re winning the culture by being relevant by the use of tattoos, music and concert hall experience, bringing hundreds of people into the Kingdom of God. What are you doing?” That is, one gets the understanding that the “success” of Driscoll is in part due to having these sorts of church experiences. But if the issue is not numbers and success (using the criteria that the surrounding culture uses), then, one is not bound by such a narrow definition and one is free to not have to use these types of tools. If success is judged by the quality of Christian we are producing and by an over-arching concern for a local body of believers (not splitting it up over this issue), then one is free to refrain from using new presentational technologies. In the end, if the presentational technology, does not fit with a particular group or mode or style of worship, why use it? It may be the case that presentational technologies do not make for a better worship experience.
Some churches want to have wholesale adoption of presentational technologies, again, for the most part to remain relevant. But the operative word here is “wholesale.” One does not need to have these kinds of technologies because they actually shape the people we are to become. That is, there is a “telos” behind their usuage. There is no neutrality when it comes to these things. It’s kinda the same as when Churchill said, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” So in what ways would presentational technologies shape us? Well one way has to do with power and awe. It sort of gives you this sense of shock and awe. One get’s the idea that what they see on stage is “bigger than life” itself when it is suppose to direct or point a congregation towards transcendence.
Adapting presentational technologies is the more difficult road to use because one is NOT asking FIRST about “speaking to youth” or “using new visual language” or “staying relevant.” Christians are putting the cart before the horse so-to-speak when they do this first. They usually think along these lines before asking the more appropriate question of the PURPOSE of worship. That is, once we ask about worship first, we then place demands on the when, how, where and most importantly, WHY questions. If we think first about the purpose of worship, then we won’t necessarily use presentational technologies at particular times and in particular settings. Worship will ask, “When should we use this?” “When is this useful?” “How should we use this?” How is this useful?” “How is this beneficial?”, etc. Not so much about staying relevant but about the appropriateness in worship. In a word, we have to JUSTIFY the use of certain technologies in worship.
This is one the body of Christ is not particularly good at. We grab from what the world is doing. Using it’s technologies and not creating something of our own. For example, we may buy “secular” art to adorn church walls, instead of coming up with something fresh. We’re not very proactive in this way. Maybe we could grab something from tradition instead of simply using something from using some of the modern chaotic art for an example.
In the next post, I’ll discuss the adaptive approach against the biblical motif of caretaking and stewardship and using the new within the context of the old.