At the risk of putting myself out of a job, I still have to tell you, technology is not going to grow your church… all by itself. You still have to tell people about Jesus.
That doesn’t mean that technology doesn’t have an essential role to play for the modern disciple. My mission is to help churches leverage technology to reach the mission field. That means that I want to help churches, and people, use every tool available to continue to spread the good news of the Gospel. I believe that there are many ways that we can use technology as a tool to share the message. It is a vital tool, but it is only a tool.
My dad is a retired school teacher. He taught shop class, or, in the modern terminology, “Industrial Arts.” He had a large classroom full of tools. On the wall, hung hammers, hand saws, screwdrivers, levels, planes, chisels and other hand tools. On the floor were table saws, drill presses, routers, lathes and other machines. When I took his class, we had to start with the hand tools. Before we were allowed to use power tools, we needed to slow down and learn the mechanics of woodworking. I learned, over the years, to use all of the tools and machines.
If I put my mind to it, I can create some pretty useful things out of wood. However, I still can’t do it like my dad did. In his prime, he was an artist. He could take a couple of pieces of wood, go into the shop, and come out a little while later with a masterpiece. He could make something beautiful using the hand tools on the wall or the machines on the floor or a combination of the two. It didn’t matter because he saw them as tools. He was crafting something and the tools just made it easier.
Tools don’t make things. People make things and use tools to make it faster, easier, sometimes better. But people have to use the tools. That is even true for those amazing advances like 3D printers. Behind that creation that magically appears is lines and lines of code and a design created by a person.
Christianity has always made use of tools to spread the Gospel. If you have ever given someone a Bible, you have used a technological tool. But it is not usually the tool alone. Yes, we have all heard stories about someone receiving a Bible, reading it and then deciding to follow Jesus. But those stories are exceptions. There are many Bibles sitting on shelves collecting dust, a well-intentioned gift that didn’t meet its intentions. The more common story of conversion involves someone receiving a Bible from a friend who takes the time to teach and share what the Bible is about and how it can change one’s life. That is how you use a tool.
I love my job. This weekend, I will be in Kingsville helping some churches create or recreate websites. I work with churches setting up live-streaming of worship services, creating Facebook strategies, and using and improving multimedia in worship. However, I do them a disservice if I leave them believing that if they just turn this stuff on, it will bring people to Jesus. That would be the same as turning on all the machines in my shop and expecting a bookshelf to magically appear.
Your church should have a great website. When you start talking to someone about faith, you can invite them to learn more at your church’s website. That raises the question, would you website look different if you were using it that way?
If you church live streams worship services, have you ever invited someone to watch? Have you ever offered to watch with them and then discuss the sermon? If you are on Facebook, have you done more than share scripture verses? Have you tried to engage with people, learn about their joys and hurts and tried to find ways that the Gospel speaks into their lives?
Technology is amazing, and we can leverage it as part of a new season of renewal in the church. But, we need to remember that it is just a set of tools. We still need to tell people.