I was interviewed a month or so ago by Emma Halgren who was writing an article for the Insights Magazine on Technology and Worship, she was interested specifically in me sharing my thoughts on what technology is indispensable in worship and what some of the pro’s and cons of using technology in worship may be. There was a feeling that some people see technology in worship as a distraction, detracting from the primary focus of worship. Also on the table for discussion was wanting to explore the ways in which technology has changed and is changing the way that we relate to one another, especially when concerning young people.
I won’t go into the bits n pieces where I was quoted too much, if at all, but I did want to write down some thoughts that I shared in the conversation that didn’t necessarily make it into the article, primarily for my own benefit, but also because from my perspective the most interesting parts were not used in the article.
One of the things I spoke about was the way that the church has been obsessed with, if not addicted to the technology of “print.” I know that some people may not view print as a technology, but it was a technology that ultimately changed the way that we communicate with each other, it changed the way that we learn, the way we teach and it ultimately changed the world that we live in and it has never been the same.
The church has taken to print in such a way that it seems to think that it is indispensable and, for the most part it’s primary means of communicating, relating, teaching, learning and worshiping. When you think about it worship for most churches has been surrounded by 101 ways to transmit print, from our bibles to our hymn books, our overhead to our digital projectors, our preaching to sunday schools, our church newsletters to our websites are all ways that we transmit print. it’s all words, words, words… and we’re addicted to them. It may not be indispensable, but if our actions are anything to judge by we certainly believe that it is something that we simply cannot do without.
One of the things that I’ve come to realise is how much this has benefited adults and dis-empowered young people, a world surrounded and drenched in print, in words and letters those who can read have the power and all the information. It follows then that a church that relies on print has very little space where children and youth can be empowered and participate. Print, especially a lot of our theological and liturgical print favours the literate, and it REALLY favours the intellectual literate.
This is reversing with the rise of a culture that relies heavily on images, a change that the church is struggling with just as much as the adults who have become so reliant on being the primary source of all wisdom and the only ones to be able to read and “understand” the print culture around them. But this change has meant that it’s the children and young people who are able to understand a lot which has previously been hidden or out of their reach. Tolstoy’s trilogy TLOTR for example, a story that had been too far out of the reach of your average 13 year old is now a movie trilogy that can be watched by anyone with the patience enough to sit through the 12 hours that it takes for the series to complete. Radio, movies, television and now the internet, podcasts, iphones, laptops and mobile phones are opening up a world that has been dominated by adult reason and knowledge hidden in large books to a world of young people who seem to be reveling in having the ability to understand and interact with it in a way that most adults struggle.
Obviously these issues mean a lot for us as a community, and I won’t go on (I’ve already written enough for tonight) except to ask some of the questions that I think we are facing, or need to face if we take all of this seriously.
- What does worship look like for a community who no longer relies on print?
- How does a worshiping community change the way that they share their christian tradition and story if not but through print?
- What does this mean for Christian education? In particular how do we move beyond a system that relies on the ways of print (Sunday school in particular and also SRE, bible studies etc) to a way that uses a number of different mediums, and that also includes young and old learning and sharing together?
- Are we being called to a way of worshiping and communing that is more aligned with the old oral traditions of communities than the written culture that we’re still moving from?
I think the way that we answer these questions will define the type of community we become, I’m excited about the changes and a bit frustrated that these questions still remain to be asked or recognised in many of our churches.
What other questions would you be asking?
Link to complete article: “Technochurch”
Link to complete article: TechnoChurch – The Sequel
Image Source: Collide Magazine