Youth Ministry & Technology. . . Help or Hindrance? . . .

This morning I found some notes I had taken a few years ago on John Dyer’s book, From The Garden To The City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology. I had heard John speak at a forum on faith and technology. . . and I was impressed. The book made it to the top of the pile and it didn’t disappoint. It really got me thinking about how I think about, employ, and integrate God’s good gift of technology into my life.

As I leafed through my notes this morning, what came to mind is the constant stream of pictures I see coming out of youth ministry world. . . pictures of elaborate stages, amazing lighting, smoke-machines, and whatever else we are employing as tools in our efforts to reach and disciple kids. I thought about the many questions we pose to each other regarding these tools and what seems to have worked best or is working best in our own ministry settings. I wonder if we are putting way too much time, money, and effort into things that are good things which become distractions. . . getting into the way of what it is we really hope to see happen in the lives of our kids?

My notes on Dyer’s book has caused me to pause and enter a little period of self-evaluation. . . on everything from my Smart TV, to my smart phone, to the technology I choose to use when I’m on the road speaking to parents and youth workers. Again, periodic self-evaluation is a wise thing. Perhaps some of my notes will be helpful to you. . . forcing you to think in ways and about things that you’ve never pondered before. . . but probably should. Take a deep breath. . . and read. . .

  • Whatever technology we employ and consume does something to us. Does it benefit us? How? Does it result in terrible consequences? How?
  • “Technology should not dictate our values or our methods. Rather we must use our technology out of our convictions and values.”
  • Over time, new innovations and technologies lose their power to disturb and rattle us. They become normalized. We no longer question their presence. . . when perhaps we should.
  • Everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal. Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn 30 is incredibly exciting. And anything that gets invented after you’re 30 is against the natural order of things. We need to guard against each of these realities and become more thoughtful on all spots of the spectrum. One of our biggest issues is that when we are young we are prone to uncritically accept everything, while the old tend to demonize it.
  • “When technology has distracted us to the point that we no longer examine it, it gains the greatest opportunity to enslave us.”
  • “Technology can at the same time be both a reflection of the image of God and a subtle rebellion against him and his authority. Today nearly every tool available enables us to perpetuate the myth that we can live apart from dependence upon God. Instead of affirming that the Son holds every speck of the universe in place, we amass tools with the belief that they can help us overcome our deepest problems.”
  • Our greatest temptation with technology is to use it as a substitute for God.
  • “We use our idols, especially our technological ones, as a means of distraction. When we find something that offers us temporary relief from the curse of sin, instead of allowing its shortcoming to make us long for our Savior, we allow the technology to distract us from our obvious need of a Savior.”
  • “God is more interested in our theology of worship than in our technology of worship.”

So. . . what jumped out at you and smacked you right between the eyes?

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