Technology and Pastoral Care, Part 2

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I wrote in my last post about the new opportunities and challenges we face caring for one another as Christians in this new digital age. The post mostly focused on Facebook and how it is changing the landscape of how we hear and share prayer concerns. Now, I want to look at some of the underlying issues that create the need for us to engage other technologies in our life together. I especially desire to think about how they can be a part of our life of prayer and mutual support.

The Issue

Sometimes, the most challenging parts of our effort to pray and care for one another is staying connected. Our churches are stuck at the intersection of mobility and immobility.

road-sky-clouds-cloudyMobility

Our people are mobile. Look around most congregations this summer and you will know what I am talking about. Our younger members are traveling all across the country and world for vacations. Some of our other members are traveling all across the country and world to see children and grandchildren. And it is not just summer vacations. People travel on the weekend and many travel for work.

Should their physical absence equate to a total absence from their church community?

Immobility

6193352974_e3fcaf0d5a_oAt the same time the world becomes more mobile, for some of our members, mobility is becoming a greater challenge. When I served in a local church, I realized that the attendance of some of our older members was on the decline. The physical challenge of getting to church can reduce the frequency of attendance. Eventually, some members may forgo worship altogether.

And it is not just our elderly members. The birth of children, long and short-term illnesses, the care of aging parents, and irregular work schedules can keep away the very people who are in most need of pastoral care.

Should their physical absence equate to a total absence from their church community?

What to Do?

2000px-Tango-style_question_icon.svgWhat if technology could be a part of our strategy to stay connected to our fellow Christians near and far? Nothing will ever replace the power and importance of visiting face-to-face. Clergy and laity will always be called visit people in their homes, at the hospital and in assisted living facilities. But, that is not always possible. Even if it is possible, it will no longer be enough.

People need to stay connected for prayer and mutual support. It is one thing to say, “We just need to get out and visit more people more often.” It is another thing to do that. Clergy and laity aren’t going to suddenly have more time on their hands.

If mobility and immobility are pulling us further apart, can technology bring us closer together? Yes, it can. It will never replace the power of being together. However, it can supplement it. It can make connection possible when it would otherwise be impossible.

The first two pieces of technology that I want to look at as options for connection are videoconferencing and live streaming. I will discuss those in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, how has increased mobility and immobility affected how you have offered or received prayer and support? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

8 thoughts on “Technology and Pastoral Care, Part 2

  1. Mobility- while on vacation in another state, I was able to submit and receive prayer requests through fb, emails and texts. Immobility- while confined to home recently, I was able to participate in worship with my home church through live stream. I became closer to a friend through fb posts when she was confined to home because of a lengthy illness.

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  2. “It will never replace the power of being together. However, it can supplement it. It can make connection possible when it would otherwise be impossible.” I think it can also make the ‘live’ person-to-person reunions less awkward when you are able to reconnect, thus reducing the time of transition between small-talk and the stuff relationships are made of. I also appreciate being able to access the pastor’s sermon online when we are absent from worship.

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  3. Pingback: Technology and Pastoral Care, Part 3 | PastorWill.net

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