Series - Tech

Some Useful Technologies for Church Ministry (Part 4)

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Technologies for Worship

Introducing new technologies into worship can be a challenge—especially into churches within the Reformed tradition.35 Some Christians within this tradition believe the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) applies only to the corporate gatherings of the church and interpret it as precluding the introduction of anything into the worship service that’s not explicitly commanded in the New Testament.36

Personally, I question whether the RPW should be limited to corporate worship. I don’t think we live by one regulative principle when we pass through the “sanctuary doors” and a different principle when we’re outside corporate worship.37 Rather, as I see it, we live by one principle, which is sola Scriptura. This principle applies to all of life in a more general way and to church worship, community, and mission with greater specificity. Thus, there’s one principle, but different applications based on varying contextual situations, i.e., worship in a broader sense and worship in a narrow sense.38

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Some Useful Technologies for Church Ministry (Part 3)

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Technologies for Discipleship

Churches are not merely called to evangelize the lost, but their mission also includes educating and equipping the saints (Eph 4:12-14). While the church’s pastoral teaching ministry (public and private) is and should remain its central means for accomplishing this task (Acts 2:42; Eph 4:11; 2 Tim 3:17-4:2), the church may employ other secondary means.

Historically, solid biblical literature has been one of the primary mediums for this complementary mode of cultivating disciples. Now, with the advent of the Internet, pastors can self-publish helpful teaching by means of a pastor’s blog that’s structured into or linked to their church’s website. And as more of your people acquire e-book reading devices like Kindles or iPads, you can provide them with self-published materials in electronic format.22

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Some Useful Technologies for Church Ministry (Part 2)

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(Technologies for outreach, continued)

2. Audio and Video Media

Nowadays, a good church website will have more than good graphics and helpful written information. Since the advent of digital media, many churches have begun to make their sermons available in audio format. If the church has its own server or pays for a hosting service, it can archive its audio messages and make them available on its own website.12 For churches that can’t host their own audio archives, there are ministries like Sermonaudio.com, which can provide both the hosting and also a worldwide venue of listenership for a reasonable price.13 Such services often provide monthly reports not only of how many people are listening to or downloading your sermons but also of where these people are in the world. You can also acquire these kinds of statistics by using Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic.

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Some Useful Technologies for Church Ministry (Part 1)

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The “sharp axe” proverb in Ecclesiastes 10:10 highlights the importance of keeping our technology “honed” or “up-to-date.” Not only is an iron or steel axe head preferable to a stone axe head, but the edge of the axe must also be sharp if we want to increase our productivity and success. Just as the woodsman should keep his axe sharp in order to increase his productivity, so we who are engaged in church ministry should keep our technology in good working order and, as much as possible, current and up-to-date. Of course, we shouldn’t assume that the latest technology is always the best technology. We may need to wait until a new technology is “tested” before making the investment. Moreover, having “cutting edge” technology may not be absolutely necessary or feasible for every church.

But I fear that some of us are trying to do church ministry with a “stone axe,” metaphorically speaking. Our technology is either dated, or we’re not keeping it sharp. As a result, our church’s ministry is not as efficient and productive as it could be. Of course, we can still do church ministry with older and less efficient technologies just like a woodman can bring down a tree with a sledge hammer if he hits it long enough. But why should we pray God overrule our lack of applied wisdom? Why not make use of the best and most efficient technologies that are consistent with our ministry objectives and within our budgetary grasp?

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Technology & Ministry: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Dangers

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In our previous installment, we saw that human culture and technology are a necessary part of the creation mandate and as such should not be viewed as necessary or intrinsic evils. Moreover, we argued that religion is part of human culture, and it will, therefore, employ some of the tools of culture. But before we suggest some ways in which we can use modern technologies to advance the Great Commission, I’d like briefly to highlight the tension that exists between the benefits, tradeoffs, and dangers of technology. We’ve noted that human technology brings with it certain benefits or, to use a biblical term, “blessings.” Nevertheless, over and against those benefits and blessings, we need to be aware of the resultant tradeoffs as well as the potential dangers that new technologies introduce.

Lessons from the Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution brought with it many benefits. Various kinds of manufactured goods become more available and affordable. Many of the things produced by factories facilitated the services of other vocations and even occasioned the need for new vocations. As a result, many new jobs were created and people employed.

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A Biblical Theology of Human Culture & Technology, Part 2

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What biblical reality do we need to add to creation and the fall in order to cultivate a more balanced view of human culture? What part of the biblical picture do the “counter-cultural” only Christians often miss?

Culture, Technology, and Common Grace

The simple answer is “grace.” According to the Bible, God does not completely abandon mankind in his sinful state, but he shows kindness or grace. To be more specific, God bestows two kinds of grace: common grace and saving grace.

I think we’re all pretty familiar with God’s saving grace, which enables us to turn from our sin and trust in Jesus—the grace by which God endows us with every spiritual blessing in Christ and secures for us an eternal inheritance. But sometimes we lose sight of God’s common grace. What is “common grace” from a biblical point of view? Like the word “culture,” the phrase “common grace” doesn’t appear in the Bible. But the concept of common grace does. Common grace refers to God’s blessings on the human race that fall short of salvation from sin. Theologians usually classify these blessings as follows:6

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A Biblical Theology of Human Culture & Technology, Part 1

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Since culture and technology describe what humans made in God’s image do and make, it shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible has something to say about them. And I believe it would be useful for us to develop a biblical and theological framework for human culture and technology before we attempt to relate them to church ministry.1 As we look at the biblical data, what we discover is that the Bible portrays human culture and its corollary human technology as good, as bad, and as both good and bad.

Culture and technology as “good”

We’re first introduced to human culture and, by way of implication, to technology in the creation account of Genesis one. Here we learn not only the origin but also the nature of human culture and technology.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:26-28).

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The Cutting Edge: Technology & Church Ministry

All churches employ forms of modern technology to assist them in the tasks of outreach, discipleship, community, and worship. This raises the question as to whether the Bible provides the church with any guidelines or principles for choosing and using appropriate forms of technology in carrying out her Great Commission. I believe it does. One key text in this regard actually comes from the Old Testament. I’m thinking of Ecclesiastes 10:10, where we read, “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed” (Eccl 10:10, NLT).1

Keep the Edge Sharp

An axe is a product of human technology, designed to assist man in subduing the earth. The implication of this text is that people should not only employ the right technology in carrying out their particular cultural task; people should also keep such technology well-honed and up-to-date in order to increase their productivity and likelihood of success. With a touch of humor, Douglas Wilson remarks,

We see in this proverb a little Solomonic understatement. That boy is trying to chop down a tree with a baseball bat. If a man stopped to sharpen the ax, he would get through the cord of wood a little faster. If he undertook a little maintenance, the car would run longer.2

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