Technology, its benefits and dangers have become a major talking point among Christians as many finally return to in-person worship services and recognize the effects of Zoom meetings, online education and the proliferation of dangerous places on the Web.
Two pastors at Vaughn Forest Church in Montgomery recently discussed the subject of technology and its connection to children and families during an episode of their podcast, The Other Six.
Adam Bishop, senior pastor at Vaughn Forest, and Matt Collins, worship pastor, covered a variety of technology-related topics, particularly how children and teens can relate well to it and how churches can use it. to reach the world.
Technology has become a “digital mess” for some, Collins suggested, wondering aloud if people could find a positive path forward.
“Technology has been awesome in so many ways,” Bishop acknowledged, noting how far the internet has come since the 1990s, when many didn’t even know what it was.
“I’ve been through all of these shifts and changes over the past 10-15 years, and the biggest difference [is] you had to research the technology, and obviously now it finds us,” Bishop said. “All of these different things allow us to continue to do certain things in a practical way. They allow us to connect.
Bishop added that however practical advances in technology may be, there must be some limitations.
“It’s like anything else,” he said. “If you don’t put boundaries in place — and I’m not talking about censorship — I’m talking about your own personal life…eventually a good thing becomes a ‘god’ thing, and that’s a bad thing.”
Anything that invades our lives becomes bad, Bishop said. The dangers are particularly significant for children and adolescents, he said.
“The dangers are when you expect a child or a teenager to know how to handle it like an adult,” Bishop said. “Teenagers and children don’t have the emotional maturity to handle the technology we give them, but they think they do…. Children don’t understand the ramifications of where this technology can take them and it will end up being quite destructive to their lives.
When the pandemic hit, many churches were quickly forced into the same situation as families – they had to figure out what technology was appropriate for ministry when people were stuck at home and how to use the digital tools that had the most of meaning.
“If COVID had happened any other time, we wouldn’t have had the technology to do what we did, so what a blessing that was,” Bishop said. “We did devotions on Facebook and we did all of our services online, and I’m grateful we were able to do that.”
He noted that although most churches are meeting in person now and the season has passed, forcing them to go online has improved the church’s use of technology.
But doing church online was not Jesus’ plan, Bishop said. Jesus’ instructions during his ascension into heaven became what the church calls the Great Commission, and “that’s what we have been called to as a church,” Bishop said. “For my life, I can’t think what he had in mind was that we do this digitally and not with each other.
“Technology is a tool to spread the message of the Gospel. It is a tool to help us connect with people, but it will never replace being with people. The idea that it’s the same thing just isn’t true.
“So how do we ‘de-normalize’ it?” Collins asked.
Bishop said people need to start distinguishing between online life and real life, encouraging them to take a break from technology.
“It’s probably not going to go well, like rehab,” Bishop joked, adding on a more serious note that people often decompress from the stresses of life with technology, so taking a break from their phones isn’t. not as easy as it may seem.
“It’s hard if you already have kids or teenagers who are already in that pattern…that you don’t try to make them think the technology is bad or bad,” he said. “You try to create distinctions.”
Bishop noted three options for responding to the contemporary technological world: isolation, saturation, or interpretation.
Since it is not useful to insulate oneself from the benefits of technology and saturating life with continuous technology is also unhealthy, interpreting what is happening is the most beneficial option, especially when it is it’s about having open conversations with kids, he said.
“We’re going to talk about these things openly,” Bishop said. “There will be no shame associated with these conversations because they did nothing wrong. Put what’s happening in your children’s lives on your agenda. This is what parenthood looks like today.
Bishop suggested there are spiritual benefits to using technology, noting the prevalence of online resources that point to the Bible and Jesus.
“What you want to do is point [others] in the sense of really positive things from technology,” Bishop said. “You can’t just be defensive. You also have to be offensive. »
The most important thing to remember is that adults and children can use God-given technological advances to reach the world for Christ, Collins and Bishop agreed.
“The technology we have today makes it easier,” Bishop said. “We want to make sure our kids understand that technology may actually be the way to finally fulfill the Great Commission. Most Christians don’t know that there are places on earth that the gospel message doesn’t has not reached. We have received a large task that has not yet been completed.
“Technology, the internet and being online can be harnessed to accomplish this task, and our children’s generation can be the ones to do it.”
To listen to The Other Six podcast or visit vaughnforest.com.