Saturday, February 23, 2013

Using Technology in Worship While Retaining a Sense of the Sacred

In the last few posts we have been discussing what to do when the next generation finally comes to church. Yesterday, we discussed how to use technology to reach the next generation (read that post here). As we continue that discussion today, it is important to point out that though technology is important to the next generation, churches must balance the use of technology with a sense of the sacred. While the majority of young people may have wandered from the church traditions of their childhood and may even question the historical teachings of the church, they often still have a vague memory of the sacred. Since many people in these situations grew up in more formal worship environments, they often believe some of the more formal elements of worship are sacred. Therefore, churches seeking to reach postmodernists should rediscover some of the more liturgical aspects of worship, even if that is not typical of their particular worship style.

For example, many postmodern people have enough past connection with church  to grasp that the Lord’s Prayer is meaningful. Therefore, they expect to recite it when they come to church. Likewise, they may think that candles are appropriate for a worship setting. Churches may want to add some candles to their sanctuary if they do not already use them.

Postmodernists understand that taking communion is something special, even though they may not have participated in it in some time. Churches need to help them relearn what communion is and explain the steps required to be able to receive communion again. Members of the next generation seldom know the meaning of all these religious rituals, but in their minds, such traditions are all part of the sacred aspects of church. Though some evangelical churches shy away from such formal expressions of faith, we may want to prayerfully consider incorporating more of these elements into our worship experience.

It is important to note that there is no need to adopt all the practices of liturgical churches. After all, people are leaving those churches because they find the services to be dry and dull. However, combining one or two of the more liturgical elements with the use of technology, vibrant music, experiential worship, passionate preaching, and a welcoming atmosphere creates a powerful experience for postmodern people.

Faith Community Church in Barre, Vermont, uses a high degree of technology in its services. All the songs are projected on the wall, as are the Scriptures and notes from the sermon. It is not unusual for a video to be incorporated into the service. Despite the use of technology, Faith Community Church also lights candles before their services, quotes the Lord’s Prayer at almost every service, encourages people to use kneeling benches, and celebrates communion together much more frequently than many churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, of which they are a part. Combining these technological and sacred elements has allowed Faith Community Church to connect to a large number of young people. Churches can use technology in innovative ways without losing the sense of the sacred during a worship service.
Adapted from Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources.

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