Can your church be a tech leader?

With a growing number of Facebook users exceeding the number of Christians and Muslims in the world, we who use technology are alarmed that the church is still behind. Those of us in leadership understand the need for the church to embrace technology. What we suggest is forming a team, not just to market the church through the church’s social media outlets, but a team of people using their personal social media to reach out to the unloved, the unreached, and the unchurched online with yearly training on technology, story-telling techniques (both visual and literal), false cults and religions, and theology.

I was pleased when both the International Mission Board and Lausanne Movement published two articles on technology and missions. In “Missions History: On the Cusp of a New Era of Modern Missions,” D. Ray Davis outlines mission history with an emphasis on how “some believe that we have subtly entered a fourth era in modern mission history.” It goes on to say:

The nature of this new era hinges on today’s mission leaders and missionaries becoming proficient as catalytic leaders. In the past, missionaries needed to be pioneers or strategists to do the work for the church. But today—with unprecedented connectedness—missionaries also need to be catalytic leaders to empower every disciple to play a part. They must learn to act as a conduit toward exponential missions impact by sharing their expertise, mobilizing, equipping, empowering, and unleashing US church partners.

The Lausanne Movement goes deeper into the issues we face with technology by outlining four features of media in their article “Media Engagement: A Global Missiological Task,” by Lars Dahle. The four features are described as:

Digitalization: The Internet is gradually becoming the most significant platform for media research, networking, and publications, resulting both in convergence of old media formats and genres and creation of new media arenas.
* Democratization: Increasing access to new digital publication channels and new arenas of social media creates numerous possibilities for wider participation and networking.
Fragmentation: The dramatic increase in media arenas, participants, and voices creates both a fragmented public discourse and a fragmented private consumption.
* Globalization: Through the global spread of information technology, new platforms for media distribution are being established, such as broadband, satellite, and mobile technologies.
* Pluralization: Wherever technology goes, media goes, and with the media comes a plurality of values, perspectives, and worldviews.

Lead Like Jesus recently published a piece called “Online or Offline: How Do You Lead Your Family?” by Kim Rider. In this article, it outlines the good, bad, and ugly of social media and technology on our families. The article offers many good boundaries to teach your family. Under the bad, the article talks about how it can waste time. This is what I want to address.

Wasting time is a problem. If we were more intentional with our use of social media, it would naturally point us back to studying our Bible first before we get online. If our minds are always on how to use social media to glorify God, we will spend less wasted time there. Learning cross-cultural communication, a second language, learning about a different culture that happens to live and work in your area, are all non-time wasters and excellent examples your family can follow. How can your family get educated on other cultures?

Mission courses are available to anyone regardless of their vocation. You can apply what you learn in those courses to your interactions online. If your church led the way in forming a social media team, yearly courses could be taught by authors, social media missionaries, pastors, and cross-cultural leaders. Imagine how our churches would change if our focus on social media was less on the fear of the technology and more on learning how to communicate well with it. What if our sermons from the pulpit included technological references to help the audience make the connection that our face-to-face life is the same as our online life? What if our churches challenged their congregation to follow and pick a people group online to communicate with and guided their church on that communication? What if they partnered with their missionaries to use technology to help each other’s ministry objectives?

We live in exciting times, don’t we?

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