A few months ago, I was having lunch with a group of students from our church in the campus center at Texas A&M. The topic of Facebook came up. One of the freshman who was sitting at the table turned to me and asked, with all seriousness, “Phillip, what was college like before Facebook?” He couldn’t fathom the college experience without it. Technology has changed the way that young people do life, has it changed the way your ministry does life?
Technology is full of potential. It has the potential to make us more effective in ministry. But it also has the potential to make us more inefficient in ministry. It has the potential to drive our students in their pursuit of God. But it also has the potential to distract our students in their pursuit of God.
Technology itself is neither good nor bad. It is just a tool that is controlled for the purposes of the user. I was reminded of this truth a few months ago in a post by Tim Challies. Here’s what he said:
Truthfully, I cannot think of anything that distracts us so fully and completely and consistently as technology. For too many of us, technology is a master and not a servant. It is our owner, not our possession. We let it run and rule our lives. We allow technology to determine the course of our lives, taking us where it leads. We determine our schedules with TV Guide in one hand, a Blackberry calendar in the other. We invest countless hours in online friendships, many of which are shallow and insignificant, while ignoring people in our local churches and communities. Perhaps while ignoring even our own families. Technology is a great servant but an evil master. Technology is proof of the greatness of God and something we ought to be thankful for. But why, then, have so many of us allowed it to rule and govern our lives? Why do we allow it to play such an important, transcendent role in our lives and in our families?
When you really think about it, there are three possible ways for us to approach technology in ministry. First, we can reject it. We can just write it off asa distraction and a device of the devil. We can look at all of the trouble it can possibly cause and turn away from it. No movies. No music. No internet.
Second, we can relish it. We can fully embrace all types of technology without discernment. We can see it all as a blessing from God and fail to consider all of the moral and ministry implications of its use. No limits. No inhibitions. No restrictions.
Third, we can redeem it. We can make the most of technology for the kingdom of God while leaving the rest behind. We can treat it like a buffet–take what you like and leave the rest. No waste. No indulgence. No legalism.
As we talk about using technology in ministry this week, I will be coming from viewpoint #3 with a goal of redeeming technology for kingdom impact while avoiding the potential pitfalls of immorality and inefficiency that it can bring. We have a wired generation rising which has grown up with technology and often fails to discern what they should and should not do with it. Make sure you check back tomorrow for part 2 as I share some surprising statistics about the use of technology by this generation.