Through the years, I’ve sometimes heard people question the addition and use of newer technology in the ministry at South. In fact, I can remember a lengthy debate in a deacon meeting back in the early ‘90’s over whether or not the church office should get a fax machine! Well, a lot has changed since those days! In fact, to coin a phrase – “This ain’t your Grandpa’s South Baptist Church” when it comes to our use of technology. In our culture, technology is not only a means of communication, it has become part of the message itself. Technology is not optional if we are going to reach our culture with the Gospel…it is essential! Here’s why….
At the heart of every effective church ministry is communication. We are committed to communicate things like the truths of Scripture, the nature and love of God, the nature and need of man, and of primary importance….the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Effective communication demands that we speak the recipient culture’s language and remove as many obstacles to communication as possible. I believe technology has become a part of the language we speak, and it can be used to help us communicate all those important truths mentioned above. Technology helps us by improving 3 very important aspects of effective communication.
The first aspect is reception. People must receive the message of the Gospel, either by hearing it or reading it. Romans 10:13-14 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” One of the most important technologies that we use is our sound system. Without it, it would be very difficult for people to hear and receive the preaching of God’s Word during our services. Live streaming our services and making messages available on CD and on our web-site is another way we use technology to get the message out so people can receive it.
The second aspect is focus. We have to get people to focus on the message of the Gospel. I don’t think people have ever been more distracted than they are today. The barrage of information that we must process and manage on a daily basis can be overwhelming! So, it’s very difficult to get people to focus on anything for more than a few seconds. The use of technology helps get people to focus. Lighting forces people to focus their attention on the message and messenger as they proclaim the message in word or song from the platform during our worship services. Video testimonies introduce new members and give our church family the chance to get to know them a bit, even though they may not have met them yet. Peter and John drew the focus of the religious leaders when they proclaimed Christ in their presence in Acts 4:8-13, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.’ The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” I think Peter and John got these religious leaders to focus on them and their message!
The third aspect of effective communication is understanding. When the Church began on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the believers the ability to speak the languages of the many different people who were in Jerusalem at that time. Through this unique ability, many people were able to hear and understand the Gospel. Acts 2:4-6 says, “And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.” As a result, Peter was able to preach the Gospel and 3000 people heard and understood the Gospel and were added to the church. Without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit – enabling people to understand the Gospel in their own language – they would not have seen so many people come to Christ. Though the language barrier is not something we deal with in our services, we still are concerned that people understand the message we are proclaiming. Technology helps us with this. We project song words and sermon outlines on the screens to help keep people better understand the message. We give people the chance to interact with the message on their smart phone or device through our You Version – Live Events. Even the Pastor’s Blog on our web-site gives us a chance to increase people’s understanding of different topics and subjects.
So, do we really need all these gadgets and gizmos in our ministry? I say yes…if we want to be effective in communicating the Gospel to our very distracted culture. Hopefully, we understand the limits of technology and the risks (sometimes gadgets and gizmos fail!!!). Still, I’m thankful to be part of a church that is using technology for God’s glory and for the sake of the clear communication of the Gospel!