October 28, 2015

The “Both/And” of Church and Tech

The Episcopal Church just celebrated “Social Media Sunday” -- a time to post and tweet images and messages about church across various social media platforms. As it turned out, our congregation (along with the sister congregation that worships with us once a month) was celebrating Halloween. This generated some fun image opportunities, as well as a notable contrast between my staid Gen X costume (alb and stole) and my Millennial priest colleague who dressed as the chaplain at Monster University.

I’m really not a fuddy duddy when it comes to social media. I help keep our parish Facebook page current, and I love taking pictures of church in action. I don’t tweet, but only because I’m not sure the format fits my life and my personality.

I suspect the church is called to “both/and” when it comes to our approach to social media.

We need to respect and engage with the media of our age, because we are not a church that spurns the world and its ways.

And, we need to provide a respite from the pressures and social illness of our age, which include overuse of social media and the pressure to “measure up” to the lives others portray through curated images.

We need to get the gospel out there.

And, we need to remember that marketing and evangelism are not the same thing at all.

We need to reach out and be accessible to every generation, recognizing that in our context the people under 40 are mostly “digital natives.”

And, we have some traditions that still offer great joy and peace and hope, and which require the use of not a single electrical outlet.

I’m convinced that the world needs nontech spaces as well as tech spaces, that people need real contact as well as virtual contact, that everyone needs to disconnect from time to time.

So by all means, let’s connect. Let’s get out there, let’s dwell where the people are.

And, let’s make sure that we do our part to offer real world connection, physical space for prayer, and moments of relief from the constant communication, social comparison and 24-7 work expectation that often comes with our high-tech connectivity. 

I believe we can do both.

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