How Does Technology Affect the Gospel?

Since reading Shane Hipps book, "The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture", this question has been more heavily on my mind. How does technology affect the Gospel? I don't think it is something that the church thinks about nearly enough. I am under the conviction that I must think about it. I'd even expand on the question a bit more. How do communication methods affect the message of the Gospel?

I'm not entirely endorsing everything said in the book or these guys. I have points I'm still mulling over, but the conversation is certainly one that needs to be had. We are an America of generations that have been indoctrinated with the ideas of many advertisers. As many begin to think about the use of these tech, they look at the advertisers results without understanding the method. We must be careful that we do not emulate the successful who are successful at the disregard for humanity to their own gain. We must care about those who we communicate with. This takes more work, but is much more fruitful and may be able to sum up many of the problems with the modern American church.

I submit this video as a way to catalyze the conversation.

Here's Shane Hipps new book:
Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith
I also want to take a second to thank Gabe Lyons for seeing that everyone at the Internet Ministry Conference 2008 received "The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture". I believe it was the single most impactful thing I took from the conference.

Each of us is the medium that God uses to communicate the Gospel. That is the message that I take away from this interview. I thought Shane Hipps was moving toward avoiding technology, but he ended up saying we need to know how to use it. I don't think he told us how, but the key comment was The Medium is the Message and we are the media through which God communicates. I think this contention is completely consistent with Jesus' teaching. Good interview!

I am glad Pastor Hipps got an iPhone. I could hardly function without mine. But Jesus is my source, my hope and my salvation. I don't want the iPhone to become my god. But I do want to learn how to more effectively use technology. Why else would God make new technology available to use than to use for the propagation of the Gospel? This is what God has done throughout history.

I was born in 1951. I grew up during the space race. I cheered it on with much of the rest of America. I have always loved technology. I continue to marvel at the explosion of technical knowledge in this age. Praise God who is the great designer of the heaven and the earth and all that is within them!

On the contrary, that was all on-topic in my mind. When we push into technologies people don't have, we are surely bound under Christ to seek ways to make an offer which grants them access to that technology as part of the whole package.

Josiah, how about a reverse effect? What does it do when our message comes packaged in a technology some can't/don't/won't use? Do we exclude them because that removes them from our audience? Or do we invest a little more and make it available other ways?

My not-so-subtle point would be too much of where the church is growing the most is restricted by the format of the presentation. Does the packaging exclude someone? At what point have we crossed the line to where the format is the message?

Ed Hurst

Yes, the recipient of a message is a vital part of the message and choice of medium. I think that plays into the whole, "the medium is the message" idea. The medium of communication bring with it perceptions and expectation that vary with the recipient. As a culture we have one general response, but as sub-cultures of the greater American whole we may have smaller groups that have very different responses. As an example, I choose not to watch television. Consequently, when someone say, "Yeah, it's like that one television commercial where..." I just give a blank stare.

I find myself spending far more more "cultivating the ground" for the reception of certain messages than actually communicating important information. Knowing who I'm communicating to and doing the best job of choosing the medium for the target is critical.

So in conclusion, I think the issues isn't so much with the choice of medium, but rather a neglect to see people who are different from the greater collective. I applaud people like yourself who bring these things to our attention. What we need is to care about these people so that they are considered in the choices. The problem is that they aren't within the "target market". This is truly a sad state.

Some interesting things I see that fall into types of mediums that I've seen communicating the gospel and that excite me include service projects to migrant worker communities. Few of the people can communicate in words to these people, but care is expressed through actions that must surely pave some path for the gospel. I can think of many other service methods that serve people who are in need of feeling God's mercy and love for them. Your own ministry in the provision of computers has often blessed others, and probably more importantly your willingness to work with them in learning to use them.

I do worry that with the passing of biblical knowledge onto the Internet, we are simply shifting a spiritual elite. When the bible was in Latin and only the priests had access to it, we had this sort of thing. To some level, we have had it for many years as this information and depth of study has been culturally locked behind seminary doors. Only those with degrees can gain pastoral positions in many places. Now we're moving that information again, but it is still going to have its limitations. If you have to own a $400 kindle device to read books, the inner city starts loosing out. It is about this point that I start spewing off about copyrights on the Bible translations and ways to make information free. Open source hardware has some really cool things it can develop into. Already solar-powered bible readers are being distributed my missionaries for free to great affect in the same way radio was once distributed at much less cost and greater convenience. At this point I'm way off topic... :-)