The first thing that caught my eye as I started to read Jeffrey Bricker’s article on technology and worship was his opening line: “It’s a tough time to be in the church business.”
I’m not sure I agree that the church is a business, but let’s stick with that for a moment. I was taught the purpose of a business is to maximize the wealth of its shareholders. A church’s shareholders are presumably its members, and to maximize their wealth could be thought of as maximizing their connection to God, I suppose. Are these modern church leaders using technology to maximize their members’ connection to God?
Most of these “modern churches” are typically known for their concert-like worship experiences; large-screen visuals; espresso bars; worship bands full of young, cool people; and a pastor in jeans and a T-shirt preaching on short passages of Scripture in a way that is positive, uplifting and immediately relevant to everyday life.
I’ve attended many of these services. I come in, am greeted by a lot of friendly people, get my coffee, take it into the auditorium where I listen to some pretty awesome music, and hear a message that is well delivered and on point. I come away feeling great. Do I feel that I have maximized my connection to God? Not so much.
People can be entertained on their devices 24/7 these days. They don’t need a church for that. They need a church for silence, reverence, community, ancient wisdom, sacramental worship and the real presence of God. Traditional elements of liturgical worship such as confession, the Lord’s Prayer, and most importantly, the Holy Eucharist have fulfilled these needs for thousands of years. It just doesn’t seem right to downgrade them in order to achieve a stronger feel good experience, unless the goal is simply to increase membership.
Technology is a powerful tool, and I only hope, and pray, that our modern church leaders can take it to the next level where they incorporate more of the vitally important substance of Christian traditions that have been around since the beginning of time. If they can do that, I think they will not only attract new members, but also maximize their connection to God.