May 2, 2008
I wish that our church relied less on technology. Growing up Roman Catholic, I'm used to basic microphones and a hymnal, an organ or guitar, choir or song leader. It worked. I'm now a member of an Assemblies of God church, and while I love the greater freedom of worship, I also get frustrated by the roadblocks of technology.<br><br>Using PowerPoint to project lyrics on a big screen is nice, except when the Holy Spirit leads the worship team to mixing up the order of the song. Expensive microphones and soundboards might mean everyone can hear in the poor acoustics of our sanctuary (aka the Christian school's gym), but it also might over-amplify things during a small Wednesday night service to the point that a person can't hear God over the mic'd drums and squalling of the worship leader.<br><br>I'd like to put out a plea to church leaders everywhere... look at your congregation during a service. Not just the first few rows, but the middle and the back, around the edges and at the door. Do you see small children tugging their ears, or people covering an ear ? Maybe they have sensitive ears or wear a hearing aid and your sound system is blasting their ear drums by amping up certain frequencies. Do you see people worshiping, and then suddenly just stop and stare uncomfortably ? Perhaps they don't know the lyrics and your worship leader is following the leading of the Holy Spirit, but technology is leaving your congregation behind.
Before the Luddites get all too excited, remember that the telephones used to contact people and let them know about the change worked just fine. Oh, and we're reading this on the internet. :-)
CMF's comments are worthwhile -- I come from the same background. On he other hand, I recently spoke with a visitor whose children said our music "wasn't loud enough." :)<br><br>Our church recently became a "multi-site" church where we use Internet streaming for the main message of the morning. We've had technical problems galore (we use DVD as a backup), but we're convinced that the technology -- when it works -- will help expand the church's outreach...
dons,<br><br>I'm really interested in the beaming in your sermon from the internet phenomenon. How does your church combat the feelings of disconnect between the congregation and the preacher?
I had the bulb on our projector over-head one Sunday. Oh well, I prepare my sermons to only make use of the screen - not depend on them. So if the thing blows up I just preach anyway with out any glitches (I might just have to describe an illustration or two, at most, no biggie).<br><br>I'm musing about writing a book on utilizing a screen during worship, one of the first chapters is going to say, "If you can't do this without the screen, then don't even attempt to do it with the screen."
A few weeks ago at our newest worship venue, the sound system was whacked out. We cut the sound and preached without a mic. Worked well--value of small venues. On Good Friday the power went out 20 minutes before our evening gathering in the same place. We lit candles and rolled on--turned out to be a great experience.<br><br>Our philosophy is always, let technology add to the service but don't make it the foundation. If the PP fails, we ought to be able to preach anyway. If the sound system goes haywire we ought to be able to worship anyway. Most multi-sites I know that do rely on video always have a live backup as well.
I'm not personally a fan of streaming - but the disconnect can't be any worse than what I experience in the congregation I preach at. Heck, when I first got there I was up on the platform, behind a HUGE pulpit, and sitting in a torture device/chair. I couldn't see half the congregation, and the half that I could see started populating the pews about 5 rows from the back (leaving six empty in front of me). Talk about actions speaking louder than words!<br><br>Physical presence doesn't mean being connected, nor does internet streaming mean mean disconnection. Depends on the people. Still, I don't care for the streaming aspect - it can lead to a cult of personality (we're culturally geared towards standing in awe of folks we "see on tv"). Might be better to have 2 or three preachers prepare sermons together - varying in nuance and delivery but staying the same in core content - and have them rotate through the sites every now and again.
Having been a muso since I was nine, sometimes recording and sometimes just performing, I am acutely aware when something technical gets a hitch. This can have it's draw backs when I am worshipping. I can pick up a glaring or even slight not quite right problem. So yes, we are too much reliant on technology. Some of the most intense worship moments have come when simply playing acoustic guitar. We condition ourselves to become reliant on things over the years and eventually fail to see our dependence on those little "luxuries" like electricty. Pathetic arent we? A pastor in touch with the Spirit should be able to breeze through the hiccups. After having studied hard to do an item at church I've sometimes found that the Holy Spirit took over with something else to say. I musn't have been listening in the fist place.
Personally, I often tended to "rely" upon the technology too often. It wasn't until my tech director explained to me his view that glitches and the like are the Spirit's way of letting us rely on Him instead, that I let it go. Now, I look forward to moments where glitches occur. It gives me a chance to exemply mercy and grace as well as giving us a good chuckle which may be even better!
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