Friday, July 6, 2012

Items that Hinder Church Growth: Failure to use Digital Technology - Guest Post by Dr. Eddie Grigg

One of the reasons many churches are loosing youth and young adults is the misunderstanding of the “decision makers” to adapt technology into the life of the church. The announcement below was lifted out of an actual order of service in an urban church that I recently attended.

As I looked around the congregation, I notice that this church had mostly middle to older adults in the service. I am fifty-five years young and try to stay current with effective ministry trends. If you see me in your service, I will be using my modern devices. I am not trying to be disrespectful or discourteous to others. I just want to reach people for Jesus! There is a big difference between asking people to “silence their data devices,” and asking them “to refrain from the use of all electronic devices.”

Even the phrase “electronic devices” refers more to vacuum tubes and integrated circuits, and clearly reflects an outdated understanding of today’s digital data technology. Used properly in worship digital devices can excite the congregation, be a great outreach tool, and help a church grow. I use my Blackberry in worship! In fact, my Bible is on my phone. Why would church leaders ever suggest that reading one’s Bible in service is being discourteous to others? Digital Bibles are increasingly used by the masses today because it is free and printed Bibles are expensive. Fewer and fewer people own printed Bibles.

A few weeks ago in another church, I watched as a man used his iPad during service. I watched as he followed along with the Scripture readings, and then took notes as the pastor preached a dynamic sermon. This was no more distracting to me than if he used a printed Bible and a pencil and paper to take his notes. What pastor would not desire for his listeners to take sermon notes? Some people even use their phones to make digital recordings of the messages so they can listen to it again, or share it with a family member who is unable to attend. This bulletin announcement clearly shows leadership that is out of touch with the people to whom they are to minister, and it is a clear turnoff to youth and young adults. Failure to use technology in the church is certain to lead to participatory decline and eventually the death of the church.

Sometimes I use my phone to snap a picture (no flash) and send in out to social media outlets with a note like “this music is fantastic” or “the pastor is firing on all cylinders today” followed with something like “ I sure wish you were here to enjoy this service.” Smart effective pastors encourage this in their churches. It builds excitement, boosts attendances, and is one of the best methods of modern outreach. Why do church leaders want to stifle outreach and growth? Can you imagine the number of people that could be reached if just ten percent of the people in attendance at your service did this every Sunday?

If your church is not using digital data technology in its worship and Bible study, I challenge you to sit down with a group of 15 – 25 year olds and ask this question, “How can we use digital data technology in our services? Let them brainstorm, share openly, and observe their excitement. Then ask them this question, “Will you help our church do some of these things you just suggested? Again, observe their excitement!
Don’t you really want to find a way to use these wonderful ideas and excitement to grow your ministry?

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