This past Sunday in Wales, a group of elders gathered at their church building to pray. The ancient stone chapel had been without heating since a group of construction workers shut off the gas supply to the building earlier in the week, then forgot to turn it back on for the weekend. It was judged to be too cold for the morning worship serviceâ€”scheduled two hours laterâ€”so the local telephone lines began blazing with elders contacting members of the church leadership team, who contacted small group leaders, who contacted everyone within their house group. It was decided to meet at an older (and smaller, but warmer) chapel building nearby. I’m not sure if the elders got to pray or not.
Unfortunately, this change of venue caught a lot of people by surprise: especially the church’s musicians, sound engineers, computer operators and the preacher. His entire message was developed as a laptop-based, visually-oriented PowerPoint presentation. Upon arrival at the old building, it was abuzz with people frantically running wires and junction boxes and speakers and a massive sound board so that the keyboard, instruments, singers, and the preacher could be heard in a room that only measured eighteen hundred square feet.
Some of the greatest movements of God happened long before the discovery of electricity, much less the arrival of computer geniuses like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. While I certainly don’t advocate wearing camel’s hair and eating wild locusts and honey, I have to wonder how many worship gatherings this coming Sunday would fall flat if some natural disaster shut down the national grids of electric power in megawatt-hungry church buildings around the globe. Thankfully, these sorts of things don’t happen with frequency, but on those rare occasions it makes one stop and think and ask a few questions:
- Are we more sensitive to the loss of electricity than the presence of the Holy Spirit in our meetings?
- Have we grown so accustomed to amplified music that we find it difficult to engage in true worship without it, whether it’s a pipe organ, a keyboard, or a five-piece band?
- What impact does technology have in a mega-church? A small, rural church? A house church? What about a contemporary church versus a more traditional church?
- How important is technology in attracting newcomers?
- Are there inherent dangers in such an attraction, like using music, lighting, and sound to draw people into a “church” where unhealthy or even heretical teaching is being promulgated?
Just a few points to ponder.
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