Technology is a great thing, but it has unintended consequences. What are the consequences of moving church to live-streaming and how should we respond? This sermon explores two options that lie before us.
Greg opens the sermon by talking about a utopian dystopia, where on the one hand humans get to have everything that they want, but on the other hand it is also a dystopian nightmare. He asks: what happens when technology renders it unnecessary for humans to ever have to extend effort or be inconvenienced by anything?
One of the unintended consequences of technology is that it tends to push people into isolation. Technology offers ways for individuals to get “my” way and therefore we do not need to depend upon others. Undisciplined use of technology pushes us further and further into isolation and keeps us from working alongside friends and neighbors. We can simply interact with what we already like and what we already know.
The question we must face as a church is the unintended consequences of live-streaming. While it has been a great tool and a wonderful blessing during the pandemic, we must ask questions about how it affects us. In a strange sense, it has connected people who are connected to Woodland all around the globe, as we have all become podrishioners. And this new experience is not going away, as many prefer to experience church from home instead of going to a building.
We could quote verses like “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” to get people back in the building. But if we went this route, we’d be trying to be back to church as usual, to an attractional model of the church. The idea of an attractional church is that we must develop an impressive worship service and great teaching in order to get people to attend. Evangelism, then, is inviting people to come to this service and hopefully be attracted to it by the worship and preaching, with success measured by how many people we can get in the building.
The alternative is to flex our missional muscle by taking the Great Commission seriously, as stated in the focus scripture. We are to carry the presence of Jesus with us, manifest the character of Jesus wherever we go, and let God use that to make disciples who will join us in carrying Jesus into the world. The instruction is to go to them, not to get them to come to us. God sent Jesus into the world and Jesus then sends his disciples into the world.
If we view live-streaming of the church from a consumer mindset, it will be disastrous because it presents one more way we get to have things our way. But there is another way. Now that attractional church is not the focus, it gives us the chance to shift our focus to being God’s hands and feet in the midst of the world. We, the body of Christ, are called to be God’s front-line workers. We are called to go about it in different ways, but we are each called to this.
We start moving in this direction not by taking on huge, monumental tasks to influence the world, but by taking baby steps. We practice blessing people throughout the day. We can pray for our neighbors, show acts of kindness to our co-workers, or meet a need in a simple way. God is moving in our day in a different way. We can learn to get involved with what he is doing.
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