Incarnational Technology

Lately technology has become a big topic of discussion in the church world. The discussion has really been around forever. It got pretty heated in the “worship wars” of the 80s. Then the question was the use of electric instruments, words projected on screens, and image magnification. The conversation has now moved to the use streaming media, and mass collaborative tools.

Recently I read a blog post that gave a fair critique of technology in the church. You can read it here. The author raises some very good points regarding the use of technology. He’s not opposed to it but feels that technology is overused in evangelical seeker-sensitive churches.

I’d like to take a moment to respond to his point. The critique stems from a presupposition that the goal is to be cool. He uses the word relevant, but in the context in which it is used, cool definitely fits better. In truth, a lot of churches use relevant when they mean cool. When the goal is to be cool, then the technology is definately being misused. If the goal is to be relevant, and by relevant I mean communicating in a way that connects with the audience in the best possible manner, then technology is certainly incarnational.

Often the incarnational is misdefined as living among people. Although Jesus certainly did live among people, so did all of the first century Rabbis and they were not incarnational ministers. The incarnation was God communicating to his audience in the best possible manner. Look at how John describes it in the prologue to his Gospel. The incarnation was God being relevant. Greg Koester makes this point well in The Word of Life: A Theology of John’s Gospel.

The best medium of communication in the first century was the spoken word. Throughout the history of civilization the most effective medium for communication has developed as society developed. Before the Guttenberg Press the most effective communication in Medieval Europe was stained glass windows and passion plays. Today American society communicates through technology television, the internet, texting, etc.

If the goal is to be the coolest church in town then it is not an incarnational church. It’s more like Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. If the goal is to communicate the truth of God in the most relevant vehicle possible, then technology must be used. With that said, technology should be leading people into community which, I believe, must ultimately lead to human interaction. But, that is not the definition of the incarnation, and that is a topic for another post.

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