With all the churches now powering up with technology for worship, ministry, fellowship, discipleship, and even evangelism and prayer, tech news is abundant.
First, an article in The Boston Globe this week caught my eye as one of Church Central’s featured suppliers, Logos, was mentioned for their electronic library—a digital resource they offer church leaders. The article mentioned the reduced preparation time ministers can experience with digitized references.
Expediency has always been at the core of technological innovations and those impacting churches and Christians are no different. One caveat the Globe points out to would-be devotees of the digital is the isolation that often accompanies computer software. Online or on-screen activities no longer requires a community of believers—someplace most Christians believe the only place faith can truly be lived out in all its dimensions.
Of course software and Web innovations are only tools. And it shouldn't surprise church leaders that what congregants want more than any savvy PowerPoint presentation or automated e-mail follow up is an encounter with the Savior.
Ironically, Newsweek columnist, Rabbi Marc Gellman, pointed this out as he rehashed George Barna’s latest research on church trends. Barna found the same No. 1 issue that Lifeway’s survey offered up last year: prayer. Check out this blog for more on that subject.
Here’s part of what Gellman said about the lack of prayer in churches:
"How houses of worship that are not houses of real worship survive is a mystery to me. Barna reminds us that the decline in church attendance is partly the result of the anemic prayer experience and not the spiritual lassitude of the parishioners."
In other news, the news. It wasn’t just me, or you, who thought 2005 was rife with religious news headlines. It really was. From the death of Pope John Paul II, to the end of Billy Graham crusades and all the scandals of church politics stemming from the issues of homosexuality in between, the papers were full of ink. The Irish Examiner Sunday Business Post summed it up well.
News on Billy Graham and Pope John Paul II aside, editorial interest in church matters seems to take a very different turn from the interests of churchgoers. While in regular news the aphorism is: "If it bleeds it leads," it seems in religious or church news the rule to edit by is: "If it bickers it leads." Controversy over homosexuality, abortion, the right to life and other hot button issues was at the center of religious news coverage for 2005.
But those issues were far from the concerns of Christians who responded to Lifeway’s poll on the top 10 issues facing today’s churches. Abortion and Homosexuality ranked last on the list. Top three concerns: prayer, discipleship and leadership.