You can tweet it, Facebook it, +1 it, project it, text it, go old school and email it or ask Siri about it. Today, technology affords preachers a multitude of ways to proclaim the message of truth. The goal of technology is to make manual tasks easier or faster than they would be otherwise. Technological advancements can accomplish that goal when it comes to preaching and teaching, but as teachers and preachers we must make every effort not to let our message become the Gospel According to Technology.
How Tech Can Prop Your Prep
A long-time preacher once told me that a preacher’s greatest asset is a large, usable library. Lots of people have large libraries, but not many people have large libraries that are usable. How many people remain efficient at using one of those large lexicons after leaving seminary? Digital libraries are the solution to the unusable library. Every word in every book, including footnotes, can be searched quickly, making sermon prep that much faster. In fact, some programs employ fuzzy searches, which mean you don’t have to search for the exact terms you are seeking. Besides being able to search every book in your library quickly, digital resources are generally cheaper than paper counterparts and can be bought and downloaded in seconds. Moreover, digital libraries are ultra-portable. Before 4,000+ volumes could be kept on a laptop, accessed on a tablet or viewed on a smartphone via wireless connections, preachers were tied to an office full of books. A library never has been so accessible.
Writing, note-taking and collaborating never have been easier. Technology makes all your documents, notes and research available at the touch of a button. Illustrations are easier to find and record; and you can create your own audio-visual pieces with personal tech. Your personal study and note-taking is easily integrated into your teaching notes, as well as being kept in multiple locations. Studying and sermon prep is faster and easier with the new tech available.
How Tech Can Promote Your Presentation
Presentations have greatly benefitted in this new world of technology. Even the most low-tech church utilizes a number of technological advancements such as printed bulletins, wireless microphones and sound reinforcement; but that barely scratches the surface. Multiple video projection systems and crowd interaction can help you drive home points and engage the crowd as never before. Every part of your presentation can benefit from technology: bulletins via text, countdown timers, all kinds of sound reinforcement, notes on a tablet or laptop, crowd interactions, lights, fog and anything else you can imagine. If a preacher wants incorporate technology into their presentation there is virtually no limit to what he can do.
How Tech Can Spread the Word Farther, Faster
Want to get your message the masses? You can do it. Video it, record it, upload it, podcast it and promote it. Your message has the potential to reach millions in a moment. You can spread a message faster and farther than ever before. People are more connected socially and technologically. There is no limit to how far your message can spread.
How Tech Can Take Over Your Life
While technology is supposed to help us do things more efficiently and effectively, sometimes it does just the opposite. Technology can consume your life. With every book in your digital library at your fingertips rabbit trails are more accessible then ever. While you are accessing your library other technological time-wasters are close by, too. You might justify it by calling it sermon prep, but spending four hours on social networking or gaming is not really preparation at all. Checking email every 15 minutes during devotional or study time shows devotion to tech, and is anything but studious. Tech can waste much more time than it saves, so don’t let it take over your life.
How Tech Can Sabotage Your Delivery
We have all been there. Everything is set, you are ready to go and some piece of technology fails. The more technology you employ the greater the potential for failure. Technology will break down. The power will go out, a fuse will fail, and a component will break. When that happens you might be stuck without your powerful second point illustration. Proper training and testing is also important. It is essential to test out that new piece of technology before Sunday arrives. Also, if volunteers run sound, lights, computer, etc., make sure your use of tech does not surpass their skill level in operating the systems. This shouldn’t discourage your use of technology, but simple be a reminder that we cannot trust any technology 100 percent.
How Tech Will Trump the True Message
Our message, the gospel, is timeless. We have freedom to communicate that timeless truth in new and creative ways, but we must never let the medium become the message. Our three-point bulletted sermons are not the Word of God. Our movie clips are only a means to understanding the true Word, not the Word itself. Don’t let novelty guide your message. Just because you can poll the audience in real-time doesn’t mean you should. Only use technology if it fits what you are trying to communicate. Technology should enhance your teaching and preaching, not the other way around. Don’t let the message of the gospel be overshadowed by the technology used to deploy it. I remember one preaching class in which the professor told the class never to use our biblical languages in sermons. His justification was that the average person didn’t care if the word was a participle or a perfect-tense verb. Instead, he told us to help the listener understand how to put that word to use in his or her own life. The same principle can applied in this instance. Don’t make a big deal of the technology; let the technology make a big deal out of the true message.