Sunday's Chicago Tribune carried an article called 6 Ways TV is Changing Your Life. It all boils down to this. In the future consumers will be able to create their own personal networks because virtually everything will be available on-demand, all the time. Today TV is still a mass-produced medium. In the future, everything will be tailored to the individual. The article suggests that in a few years, instead of 500 channels, there may be 5 million. Every high schoolers with a digital camcorder and a web cam will be a broadcaster.

In a broad sense, I think this is good news for the local church because the change in technology levels the playing field. Do you remember when putting sermons on cassette tapes seemed like a novelty? In the future every church will be able to upload a continual stream of content to the Internet (and its successor technologies) and thus make it potentially available to people around the globe. It's true that we can do that now in a limited sense, but soon it will be both easy and affordable and widely available around the world. The day may not be far off when every seminary will require students to take courses in how to use the latest technology as a basic part of the ministry.

This will impact how churches "do community." While nothing will ever completely take the place of being face-to-face with a group of friends, churches will find it easier to do multi-site ministry in widely scattered places because of instant video connectivity. 

I've been thinking lately about what preaching will look like in the next few years. To be more specific, I've been musing to myself about how we need to train the up-and-coming generation. I remember reading that the great British Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan did much of the spadework for his ministry in several country churches in the quiet English countryside of the late 1800s. That privilege will become increasingly rare in the years to come for most aspiring ministers. Not only will the pastors of tomorrow have to be technologically savvy from the get-go, they must learn how to work harder, smarter and faster. Especially faster. I didn't hear much about that when I was in seminary 25 years ago, but I think it's the wave of the future. The idea isn't really new. I read an essay written shortly after World War II about how the U. S. Navy and Marines won the Battle of the Pacific. In the beginning, our troops simply weren't prepared for places like Guadalcanal. We didn't know how to fight an island battle properly, but we learned. Everyone in the military had to learn faster, and by the end of the war, they had learned faster how to learn faster.

Technology has brought the world to my computer screen. Tonight I tap these words in and when they go on the Internet, anyone with a computer and a modem can read them anywhere in the world. But this is hardly the cutting edge. The church in the 21st century faces many challenges that will lead to amazing open doors that will transform local church ministry (which is where I live). The future belongs to those who can learn faster how to learn faster.

 


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