Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fittingness of technology in worship

The church in North America has far too much faith in the latest technologies (think PowerPoint, Wi-Fi) to accomplish what only God's Word and his people can do. In such a context, it's good to see Quentin Schultze's observations in a By Faith article on "Technology and Worship":
Perhaps the best term we could use today to talk about the value of new technologies in worship is the biblical concept of "fittingness." Does the use of particular technologies in particular ways fit with the purpose and flow of the worship? We don't use a hammer to drive a screw, and we ought not to use communications technologies in ways that interfere with communication in worship -- with communication among God, the congregation, and individual members. Again, think of the flow of worship as a kind of dialogue; as soon as the dialogue is interrupted, worship is no longer "fitting." Worship is not meant to be like a performance or movie, where "consumers" passively take in the messages from the experts.

Fittingness is not just a matter of style. In fact, the so-called worship wars between contemporary and traditional services are leading us astray. The question is not whether worship is contemporary or traditional, high-tech or low-tech, PowerPoint-inclusive or PowerPoint exclusive. Instead we need to ask the more difficult questions about fittingness: Is God being glorified and praised? Are we being moved to worship in Spirit and truth? Do we "hear" from Jesus during the service? Do we "see" our sins more clearly? Are we filled with gratefulness for the journey ahead? Are we challenged to go out into the world as agents of God's Kingdom?
Hat Tip: Theologica.

6 Comments:

Blogger Stephen B said...

Is it "fitting"? I believe it all depends on how you use it. It it like almost anything we come in contact with in our lives we can use it for good or evil. If we use technology just to impress others or to entertain during the worship service it is for the wrong reasons. At the church where I attend we installed and started using the PowerPoint program about 2 1/2 yrs. ago. We did not know how the older members of the congrgation would react to this new technology thing. The fact is once it started to be used they found out that it was a help to them. The PowerPoint was a welcome change from our whiteboard. The PowerPoint allowed us to use larger lettering which allowed them to see the points of the lesson better and also it seems that with this program the teachers and preachers post the book, chapter, & verse on the screen where they avoided doing this on the whiteboard due to it taking up so much time and space. We also use the program to post our order of worship for our visitors and have verses posted during the Lord's Supper and the collection. On the other hand if it distracts from our worship then get rid of it, but make sure that it is the technology that is the distraction and not the person using the technology. Because, even if you get rid of the technology if the person behind it is looking for attention or praise they will seek it in other ways.

6:04 PM, August 15, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Sounds like you guys found the right balance, Stephen. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

5:46 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger Dan McGowan said...

To me the most important question raised in this entry is NOT how fitting the particular technology is to the worship service (event) but, rather, if WHATEVER we are doing and using ACTUALLY and HONESTLY glorifies GOD and God alone. If so, then cool - let's use it. If not, then LOSE it.

9:22 AM, August 24, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Yes!

10:07 AM, August 26, 2006  
Anonymous cody said...

I'm not sure if anyone is still checking this blog, but since I happened upon it today, I'll post my thoughts...

The article is right on when it talks about the technology fitting in with the eb and flow of the Spirit of God as his people meet with him in worship. However, losing technology is not an option! In fact, if churches are still using PowerPoint in the same way as they were in the '90's, they are behind the culture and are not good stwewards of the Gospel. Let me explain...

After Jesus' time, word of mouth was the primary method of spreading the gospel. There were some who could write, but most people in the world at that time could not read, and there was no good method of transferring the gospel by text. When the printing press was invented, suddenly the printed bible was in every hand that could read! The primary means by which people came to know the gospel was by reading it. People didn't abandon word of mouth methods (obviously, since we still preach the gospel today), but now there was a new way for literate people to know about Jesus.

Today we are in the next phase of gospel media. The gospel will still be preached and printed, but now we have video media that, if used correctly as the article states, can be an even more effective method for reaching people of all languages. A picture speaks 1000 words!

God calls our worship to be excellent...whether we are two or three gathered around with nothing but hearts after God, or 30,000 gathered in an arena worshipping to the most cutting edge music and technology, it HAS to be excellent. But as we move forward, intending to shape-not react to-our culture, we must plan to include technology increasingly at whatever level we can.

Cody Villarreal
Technical Production Director
Faith-Westwood UMC
cody.villarreal@faithwestwood.com

6:47 PM, September 18, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Got it. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

9:57 PM, September 18, 2006  

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