Trends Reshaping the American Church, Part I
- Friday, December 30, 2005
Of course prayer is all but forgotten by most of us today. It is rarely practiced in some contexts and merely part of the duty check list in others. Spurgeon pointed to his constant prayer warriors as the source of power in his church and ministry. Would that individuals and churches could see the difference between being individuals and churches that pray at times vs. being praying individuals and praying churches.
"A second trend defined by Barna is that congregations are rapidly incorporating new technologies into their activities. Among the fastest-growing adoptions are big-screen projection systems, websites, and e-mail blasts to congregants." No doubt exists that technology can and should be used for the glory of God.
E-mail can be used in a number of ways. We certainly use it to send weekly Bible studies to our teachers, devotionals to certain segments of the congregation, prayer requests to all, and announcements to the appropriate parties.
Websites can not only be informative with reference to a particular church, but can actually give a church a much broader ministry impact depending upon how the website is utilized. Indeed, the web can be a gateway opened to the world. Audio and the written word can be used effectively by any local congregation.
Regarding big screen projection systems, we in fact use that medium for announcements in between Sunday School and worship. We also use it during the services for our singing. We feel it gets our heads up toward the Lord rather then down in a book (though there is nothing wrong with hymn books), and, the sound is better when we look up as well. We use it for Scripture reading and we often have responsive reading and use it for that too. The rest of the time, the Screen is off. We want folk to be focused on the "preaching event," and not distracted. We want them focused on the preached Word as the Scriptures make much of its importance (1 Corinthians 1-2 for example).
However, we must be careful. Much of what goes on in some churches "on screen" I would not embrace for biblical reasons. Much of that is driven by the entertainment oriented nature of our culture. There is nothing wrong with entertainment at appropriate times. Yet we must not be entertainment driven, especially in our relationship with God. He is Holy. We are driven by amusement in our culture (think of the word a-muse...no musing...no thinking). We must not be so in our worship of Almighty God.
One reason many resort to "Power Point" presentations in worship is that it provides variety or something different for the people. Someone thinks it would be great to be able to do something, others copy to compete (there's another issue, competition in the church of Jesus Christ), and before you know it, people demand high tech, high powered, shows or they will go somewhere else. The danger is that we get onto the slippery slope and before we know it, we are too far down the hill to climb back up, at least with those who are with us, as many would rather keep sliding down the hill for lack of discernment.
Let me again say that we use "Power Point." We actually put the words of the solo and/or choir up there as well. Our rationale is that the words are the most important thing, not the entertainment value of the choir or soloist. We appreciate the talent God gives people, but our focus must be on Him and not on those who sing. Reading the words as they sing helps us to focus on God and His truth.
Dr. Paul J. Dean
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