Do technology and religion belong together?

As I begin the arduous journey of writing a theses, I am pulled in so many different directions. At the time of this writing, I am interested in technology and the kind of community that can come from it. In other words, can technology  provide the interaction, intimacy, and ultimately discipleship relationships that are necessary in Christian community? The American church has suffered greatly with a lack of discipleship and deep community; the end result of this project has to be way toward depth and intimacy.
As cities increase in density, and housing prices soar, the church must have a solution for those who are unable to “keep up with the joneses.” The fact is, churches are needed in cities and neighborhoods, an issue for these churches is sustainability financially, culturally, and theologically. This has become an issue for most churches that reside in cities like Seattle, NYC, Chicago, and LA, to name a few. Another issue facing churches is the transient nature of most urban people. In a city like Seattle, where many people come to pad their resume, the likelihood of a long term stay or the feeling of calling Seattle ‘home’ is generally unlikely. A few reasons for this is the lack of affordability and the American dream of owning a home with a yard and white picket fence. In a city like seattle, single family homes are becoming a snapshot of another time and era. The next step for a young family is to move outside of the city and raise their family. This, then, makes churches in urban centers usually smaller and unable to afford the soaring costs associated with city life.
Can technology be an answer? Can the use of social media foster the community and sustainability that is needed for urban churches to remain present in the neighborhood it is serving? Is technology able to create biblical fellowship that produces and fosters the same intimacies that happen in person to person encounters?

Technology and Community

I grabbed an excerpt from my writing journal this week. This is only beginning thoughts, but I’d like to give it a go and see what questions or comments you may have.

As I begin the arduous task of writing a thesis, I am flooded with so many different directions. At the time of this writing, I am interested in technology and the possibilities of community that can be developed from it. In other words, is technology able to provide the interaction, intimacy and ultimately, discipleship relationships that are necessary in Christian community? The American church has suffered greatly with regard to discipleship and deep community, the end result of this project has to be way toward depth and intimacy. I am curious to know if technology can provide such an experience. Is technology an answer? Can the use of social media foster the community and sustainability that is needed for Urban churches to remain present in the neighborhood it is serving? Is technology able to create biblical fellowship that produces and fosters the same intimacies that happen in person to person encounters? 

Down the rabbit hole I go.

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The first two days have been nothing short of a dump truck backing up to my brain and burying me in information, systems, processes, and learning new research platforms. A huge highlight was receiving my Bodleian library card which allows me access to 10 million volumes and access to one of the world’s greatest libraries. I will be in one of 28 libraries in the Oxford University system everyday (except Sunday) until I come back to the States. (Below: Bodleian Radcliffe Camera – The Radcliffe Camera is a building of Oxford University, designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and built in 1737–49 to house the Radcliffe Science Library)

I am eager to refine my research and really dig deep into my interest. Currently, I have been reading on technology and community. My takeaway, at this early stage, is the need for the Church of Jesus Christ to embrace and understand technology in ways that are useful and able to connect people in deeper contexts. A question, one of many, I am considering is this: can humans foster the same kind of intimate connections using technology as they can meeting in a physical space? Again, this is one of many and it is very rudimentary.

If you have thoughts, opinions, or resources I should check out, let me know.

I’ll be on later in the week.

Spiritual leader or guru?

Often, I get a bit angsty trying to understand my role in the church. I understand that my office is pastor, but I feel more often like a missionary to the city and neighborhood our church is part of. That being said, there are certain requirements with the office of pastor and one of those is spiritual leader. That does not mean guru, “know it all,” or resident authority on the lives of those who ask me a question about their spiritual life. It does mean taking responsibility and caring for people who identity as part of our church community.

From his Book, Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal points out some key disciplines that all spiritual leaders must develop, I have highlighted them here:

  1. The discipline of self-awareness – this protects leaders from being self-absorbed or merely role driven.

“The difficulty with which some spiritual leaders acknowledge their ambition to seek greatness betrays its motivation.” ~ Reggie McNeal (Practicing Greatness)

  1. The discipline of self-management – acknowledges that great leaders are great managers, not just of others, but, primarily of themselves. Failure to manage yourself leaves a leader vulnerable.
  1. The discipline of self-development – never stop growing. Leaders choose to not only grow through strength but also through failure.
  1. The discipline of mission – Leaders give themselves to great causes. They order their lives focused on their mission rather than allowing others to hijack their agendas or distracting them.
  1. The discipline of decision making – Great leaders consistently make good decisions, knowing how, when and what decisions need to be made.
  1. The discipline of belonging – Great leaders practice community but also make a conscious decision to belong to others. They belong despite the risk, b/c they know that to quit risking is to quit loving and that to quit loving is to quit leading in the spiritual arena.
  1. The discipline of aloneness – great leaders not only endure loneliness of leadership but to actually build solitude into their lives. They appreciate the depth of soul making that is possible only in solitude and heart to heart exchanges with their Leader.

These are challenging and incredibly rewarding. I believe all of them are necessary and yet, I certainly have some work to do. If you are leading a faith community make this book part of your library.