In a recent Breakpoint commentary, Chuck Colson cited a couple of examples of ways in which technology is driving churches: “A congregation was faced with a financial dilemma. [It] had just installed a very expensive, high-end audio and video system for the church sanctuary and [was] way over budget. To solve the problem, the congregation decided to lay off one of its two pastors. Technology, they were forced to conclude, had a higher priority than pastoral care.
“In another congregation, the pastoral staff no longer makes decisions about what to preach. Instead, the authority falls to the technologists who run the high-tech worship. Their ability to get images to project during the service dictates the preaching topics.” (Click here to read the full commentary.)
I am an advocate of using technology as a tool to more effectively communicate in this visually driven age. Nevertheless, even with a good tool, there are always dangers. (One only needs to see what I can accomplish with a perfectly good hammer and saw to realize that quality tools are not enough!) In a quest to be “cutting edge,” some churches may be cutting the wrong things.
As Colson points out, citing Quentin Shultze’s new book High Tech Worship? “if we’re not careful, worship through technology ‘can be reduced to engineering maximum impact on audiences. This mechanistic concept assumes that worship should be like a machine, calculated and packaged to meet spiritual and religious needs.’ When that happens, technology robs us of true worship.
“He (Shultze) goes on to say, ‘This is a deeply held belief in America: Money buys technology, which can improve just about everything.’ Yet technology doesn’t improve ‘just about everything.’ It does change just about everything, for it is not neutral. Technology changes the way we view the world, and when used in worship, it can change the way we view God, ourselves and our faith. Technology must always be a means, not an end.” (For more information on the book High Tech Worship? Using Presentational Technologies Wisely, click here.)