By Robert Thomas
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 probably isn’t new to you. The Christian life is full of opportunities to apply great scriptural truths in new ways.
Personally, I often fail to follow this verse. I do not do all things for the glory of God. I think this is true in the life of the church as well since churches are, by nature, composed of people who are still learning to trade sin and self for Christ and His glory.
One area that churches may lose sight of doing “all for the glory of God” is technology. So evaluate your church. Ask yourself these three helpful questions to see if your church uses technology for the glory of God.
1. Have I thought about how my theology directs my use of technology?
Start with a well thought-out belief, not a “need” and a dime. Most of the significant issues I see in church technology stem from one poor practice: making decisions that are not driven by principle. Too often churches don’t take the time to develop a biblical approach to the way they plan to use technology; therefore, they are reduced to making decisions based on an immediate need or emergency.
If your philosophy doesn’t drive your actions, then your actions have already determined your philosophy. The way you use tools like technology in your church passively teaches something about your beliefs. Further, misused tools can even subtly teach the opposite of what you’re trying to teach.
As an example, imagine a church that emphasizes an organically organized community that allows its members to direct the church’s ministry efforts rather than using church programs. Imagine this same church decided it wanted to develop better processes for communicating with its members. Quickly, they landed on a church management software product that was created for a strictly structured and programmatic approach. The results of this decision could be that the church body doesn’t value or utilize the system put in place because it didn’t fit the ideals of the culture. Valuable resources were wasted on a product that doesn’t match the philosophy of the church.
The real negative isn’t simply the lost finances, but also the failure to passively teach in structure what the church was trying to actively teach about community.
The way you use tools like technology in your church passively teaches something about your beliefs.
2. Does our technology help leaders be devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word?
Cheap does not equal holy. Spending the least possible amount on every church budget item does not always glorify God. It often seems like we have made the Band-Aid and gum effort an art form in the church. Since I’m a technology sales guy, you may think I’m complaining that churches don’t spend money. On the contrary, I spend much of my time trying to help churches carefully guard those precious few resources.
However, when our sole paradigm for evaluating the wisdom of a purchase is, “How much is this gonna run me?”, we’re missing out on something more beautiful.
This idea applies to more than just technology, but here’s an example that I often see that is related to technology. Church leaders wear many hats. However, their primary mission is to be devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word with the end goal of growing and edifying the body. I see precious hours burned by pastors working on a technology problem that can easily be fixed (with a few dollars). Many churches refuse to spend the money on the item that could make that pastor’s work much more efficient. The benefits of keeping church leaders focused on the mission far outweigh the cost. Their time is way too valuable for us to not think through this well.
Most often, extreme frugality causes unneeded distraction, but an over-emphasis on technology can also cause undue distraction. On both sides churches would be wise to decisively guard their leaders’ time.
The benefits of keeping church leaders focused on the mission far outweigh the cost.
3. Does our use of technology promote worship in the Church?
Keep the main thing the main thing. We were created for worship. Church leaders are charged with the high honor of leading the people of God into the worship of God. A church might be hesitant to spend the money to install audio-visual aids in classrooms that would really help teachers communicate the scriptures and promote the worship and growth of the church. With the goal of worship in mind, it is much easier to determine what technologies are most valuable to pursue. Better utilization of technology as a tool to promote worship can be easily over looked and undervalued by the church.
I sell technology for a living, so don’t tell my boss I said this: some technologies have the potential to be a detriment to worship. The way a church encourages social media use, provides Wi-Fi or manages church communication can all positively or negatively affect worship. While certain opportunities that technology brings to the table sound really cool, they may not be all that beneficial. Church leaders need to be wise evaluators of the way they lead the church to worship in these areas. In a world of imbibers and abstainers, be an evaluator.
Christian’s are all over the map on technology and, not surprisingly, our organizations reflect this as well. We frequently tend to think “socially” and “financially” about technology, but we don’t think theologically about technology. But all things fall under the Lordship of Christ.
Further, in the world we live in today, we must think wisely about how we use technology as a tool to train believers and engage with the culture. Theology should drive the way we use technology. There is a way to do technology to the glory of God.
This article originally published on Oct. 24, 2016.