Technology and the Church: “Reaching Out and Reaching In by Reaching Up”
By Dean Porzel
I have been a member of Christ Lutheran Church for nearly 40 years, and this phrase has been the cornerstone of the mission of our church for all of that time, if not longer.
One might ask “how is the church leveraging technology to accomplish its mission?” Some might also question whether technology even has a role in conveying the message of the Gospel.
We look around us and marvel at how life has been improved through advances in technology that seem to accelerate over time. Would any of us want to live in a home where technology stopped 30 years ago? Certainly given the choice of a hospital stay in a facility using technology from even the 80’s or using today’s miracles of medicine, what choice would we make for ourselves or for a family member?
Unfortunately for all of us, the “dark” side of technology is that it requires us to change. Change how we do things, how we access information and even how we think. We can see just how difficult change is when we look around the church each weekend and see those familiar faces sitting the same pews that they sit in every Sunday (guilty as charged).
We must also understand that growth in our church community will come largely from those who have grown up using the omnipresent tools of technology, the smart phone, the tablet computer, the internet, etc.
I see in my business life how corporations are struggling with these same changes in tools and the new wave of employees who are candidates for positions of employment. How does a company compete for these talented candidates without speaking their language and offering them access to the technologies that allow them to accomplish assigned responsibilities in the most efficient way? How do they retain these individuals without supporting today’s methods of communication and information processing?
Our challenge in the church is the same. How do we “Reach out” and allow our constituents, old and new, to “Reach in” to learn about our ministry, our service offerings, our congregation, our events?
It is exciting to see that the Stewardship Committee has recognized the power of today’s technology to help accomplish our stated mission. Christ Lutheran Church is “reaching out” through our E-News Letter, our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/ChristLutheranOrlandPark), our website (www.christlutheranorland.com) and even Twitter (@CL_ChurchOrland).
The visibility of Christ Lutheran Church is greatly expanded through the use of these tools. As an example, we average around 2,000 web site visitors per month. They may be seeking the latest event information available through the real time calendar found on our page, or they may be seeking, information about the many service opportunities available, recent sermons offered by our worship leaders, or they may be seeking a faith community that will become that very important physical dimension of their spiritual life in Christ.
God has provided wondrous opportunities for all of us to “reach out” through technology. It can be as easy as asking that friend or acquaintance “have you visited our web site or “liked” us on Facebook?” We should not be shy about promoting these technologies, and we should all think of these tools as a blessing from God and an opportunity to extend our connection to our church beyond the Sunday morning visit.
“And the LORD said, ‘Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.'” (Genesis 11:6)