Technology and the Church

From: Monday Morning Insight

Mark Driscoll has said that every church will be cutting edge of some year. Some churches are the cutting edge of 2008. Others are the cutting edge of 1954. Yet others are the cutting edge of 1875. No matter what, your church is the cutting edge of ‘some’ year. Well, Barna just released a new study on churches and technology yesterday… and it finds that a full 35% of churches have not yet made the switch to any type of video projection…

Todd at Monday Morning Insight refers to George Barna’s most recent survey.  I thought I would take a different angle on this and look how it applies to churches under 100 (like Preston Wesleyan Church.)  I haved edited the report to reflect the small church and my notes will be in brackets.

Large Screens and Movie Clips

Two-thirds of Protestant churches (65%) now have a large screen projection system in their church that they use for services and other events.

The presence of a large-screen system is related to the church’s size and theology. The smaller a church is, the less likely it is to use such tools. Among churches that average less than 100 adults each week, only half (53%) have such systems. {We have just adopted this technology at Preston.]

Sending E-Mail Blasts

Sending email blasts to large groups of people or to the entire church body is common to a majority of Protestant churches (56%). Surprisingly, however, the prevalence of this practice has not budged since 2005. Small congregations are less likely to send out such blasts (47%) than are churches with 100 or more adults attending during a typical week (66%). [This is something that we have been doing for at least a year or two]

Internet Presence

About half of the small churches (48% of those drawing less than 100 adults) have a church website. [So far, so good, we are three for three]

One out of every four Protestant churches (26%) now has some presence on one or more social networking sites (such as MySpace). [Looks like we missed that one]

Podcasting has been adopted by one out of every six churches (16%). [No not using that one either, at least not right now.]

One-eighth of Protestant churches (13%) now have blog sites or pages through which people can interact with the thoughts posted by church leaders. [And you are reading mine right now.]

He also noted that small churches are less technology-friendly. “Many small churches seem to believe that new tools for ministry are outside of their budget range or may not be significant for a church of their size. It may be, though, that such thinking contributes to the continued small size of some of those churches.”

I looked over the list and feel pretty good about it. And I want to make a point that these are just tools to build the Kingdom, but they are important tools so that we can be relevant to the culture in which we try to minister.  Looks like I’ll have to continue to consider that podcasting thing — but what I would really like to explore is video streaming.  One of my new found friends at FLAME, put me on to ustream.tv as a way to stream both live and recorded video.  Again, tools to reach people for the Kingdom and that is my hearts desire.

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Welcoming God’s Presence

When I arrived back home Saturday I wrote a short post about my time at FLAME and how it seemed that God was so close to all of us during the week.  Someone commented:

“Is it possible to make an environment more open for God’s presence?”

I would say that yes it is possible to have an environment that is more open to God’s presence.  I think many times we come to God’s house not expecting Him to “show up.”  One of the great things about FLAME is that almost everyone who is there is ready to worship when we get there.  Even at FLAME, there are those times when it feels like worship stops at the ceiling (I’ll be quick to say, I have experienced few of those times.)  When we come with an expectant attitude, I believe that God is more likely to “show up.”  I put “show up” in quotes, because God is always there, but there are those times when He makes His presence manifest in a greater way.

So there is an expectant attitude, but what about the way we are living our lives?  Charlie Hall’s song Give Us Clean Hands is based on Psalm 24:3-6 and represents our attitude when we come to worship.

We bow our hearts, we bend our knees
Oh spirit, come make us humble
We turn our eyes from evil things
Oh Lord, we cast down our idols

So give us clean hands, and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another

O God, let us be a generation that seeks
That seeks your face O God of Jacob

I really believe that when we harbor sin in our lives, it can be a hindrance to worship.  When we put anything before God, it can and usually will hinder our worship.  So, I really believe that we can create an environment where God is made more manifest.

Worship, Websites, Conflict Affect Growth in Congregations

ht: Mark Gorveatte

Contemporary worship, geographic location, a website and the absence of conflict are key factors in why some congregations in America are growing, according to the latest national survey of U.S. faith communities.

The survey, sponsored by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership, found that wanting to grow is not enough. Congregations that grow must plan for growth: “Congregations that developed a plan to recruit members in the last year were much more likely to grow than congregations that had not.”  [To see the rest of the story, click here]

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Sixth Sunday of Easter
April 27, 2008

Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21

This week I did not preach from the lectionary passage because we were having our Local Church Conference.  This post is also a little late because I did not have internet access until yesterday.  What I’d like to share with you comes from the 14th chapter of John.  We are nearing Pentecost and Jesus in this passage promises the Holy Spirit.

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Jesus reminds his disciples that He will be going back to the Father and He is planning on sending someone in His place who will never leave us.  We are to accept God’s commandments and obey them because if we love God and his son, Jesus, we will want to obey his commandments and when we obey God’s commandments, he will love us and Jesus will love us.  This is a great promise!

Sunday Night Thoughts

Wow! what a week.  Last week at this time I was rehearsing with the FLAME worship band and enjoying a cool day in Indiana.  Last week was a great time of refreshment in my spirit, fellowship, networking and connecting, and worship.  Yesterday, I returned home and immediately had to get back into the swing of things here.

I had been working on what I was going to preach the past two weeks and really felt the Lord help me with that as I prepared for worship last night.  I tried to get some decent sleep last night.  This FLAME was better in the sleep category over all.  Most nights I got 6 to 7 hours sleep which is very good for me when I’m away from home.

Not only did we have worship this morning, but we had our Local Church Conference this afternoon.  What we have done is to make this one event.  We have worship at 11.  Lunch follows worship.  This morning I preached for almost 45 minutes — this is a rare event, so lunch was a little late.  Following worship and lunch, we have our business meeting.  I got the idea from looking at the sample agenda the district gives us.  It suggests that we should have a time of worship and a devotional.  Well, we have combined the whole thing and I think the people enjoy it.  The reason my message was so long was that I do a state of the church address as part of Local Church Conference.

Everything was over by 2 this afternoon and I came home and took a nap.  It felt really good.  Tomorrow, everything really ramps up again and it will be back to business as usual.  Have a great week.  Carp Diem!

Worship Recap

Call to WorshipPsalm 66

Songs of Worship Forever (Tomlin)/Blessed Be Your Name (Redman)

Invocation

Song of WorshipThe Church’s One Foundation (Stone/Samuel Wesley)

Worship through Prayer

Worship through Giving

Song of WorshipA Glorious Church (Hudson)

Worship through God’s Word – State of the Church

Benediction