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"Supporting SKMB Churches and Camps in making disciples."

Rebecoming Human

Many of our cultures most popular stories in recent decades envision a dystopic reality in which humans have become slaves to machines rather than the other way around, whether it be in The Matrix, iRobot, or The Terminator. In these imagined futures, humanity becomes subsumed by machines that take over aggressively after humans give them too much power or sometimes by adopting machine rule through pleasure seeking escapism. All of this seemed unthreateningly far into the future before the pandemic, but over the past year we have made the transition to mediating nearly every function and relationship in life through a screen or virtual platform of some kind. This kind of dystopia doesn’t seem nearly as far fetched now as the slow descent into acceptance of virtual relationships has taken root. 

Shopping happens on Amazon in a virtual store. Meetings, work, and even social gatherings happen on Zoom in virtual meeting rooms. Church services happen on YouTube as people spectate at home. Not only have we subconsciously accepted the proposition that all relationships can be effectively digitized without significant cost, but at the same time gained the understanding that all things can happen on demand as they fit our personal schedules. While this may seem like progress towards more optimal living and freedom, technology, and the changes it brings, are not neutral actors. Ease and self-focus are not necessarily virtues to be pursued, as many of the most valuable things in life take time, come at great cost, and are focused on the other, rather than the self. It’s a fair question to ask whether churches centred on viewing worship services are really providing a helpful service or are contributing to the pervasive problems of isolation, loneliness, consumerism, and individualism in our culture. 

The old adage from Marshall McLuhan that “the medium is the message” holds true.[1] It’s important that the church, as it emerges from covid related isolationism, examines what exactly the message of their ministries is and makes technology a tool that serves that message appropriately rather than letting it inherently dictate values. Much of what is actually communicated personally and congregationally is through the methods by which we actually live rather than what we say we value. 

To be truly human is to experience “life to the full” as Jesus spoke of - fully immersing ourselves in the messy and indelicate milieu of human relationships and experiences that require things of us rather than just serving our own needs.[2] The church, in its healthiest and most vibrant state, has always been focused on the deep thought, relationships, and engagement rather than merely breadth and ease. If the church is primarily focused on being easily accessible, user friendly, unassuming, and relevant, it is by its very nature communicating that following Jesus takes little effort, requires little time, is easily understood, and will adapt to the changing desires of its customers. In order to draw people into deeper faithfulness and discipleship, the church must be willing to slow down, invest in depth over breadth, and communicate that it is through deep interpersonal relationships that community grows rather than easy and disposable connections.

 

Further Reading:

Analog Church – Jay Y. Kim; Deep Church – Jim Belcher



[1] McLuhan, Marshall (1964). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.
[2] John 10:10 (NIV)

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