Did Technology Do What We Thought It Would Do?
Guest post by Paul Turner, Pleasant Grove Assembly of God in Pleasant Grove, Alabama
Editor’s Note: This article was featured in the new YLO90 Music Resource Book. You can preview the music included in the new edition of Youth Leaders Only here.
Did we think technology would be more effective in how we share the gospel? Did we think technology would draw us and our youth group closer together?
Did it increase the number of kids who attend our youth meetings? I don’t know about you, but I kind of thought technology would have helped some of this – and it has. But I think we have hoped that technology would do what only prayer and hard work can do.
Teching The Gospel To The Streets
The word “technology” has shrunk to laptop, cell phone, and the internet; not telescopes or laboratories. Not that the latter is outdated, but a teenager would go crazy trying to get a Bunsen Burner to send a text. I also notice the students in my group are not using their technology, or at least their Facebook, to share the gospel with their friends.
As I skim through the newsfeed on Facebook, I occasionally see posts from my students. I love my students, but the vast majority of them are not using technology to share the gospel. Jesus came, died for our sins, rose, and is coming again – that is the good news. A picture of a dog with a “God loves dogs” comment is not the gospel. Posting Bible verses, Christian music videos, and other Christ-centric information is a good start to sharing who we are Christians, but my teens are coming up short of expressing the gospel as fact and as lifestyle. “How To Share The Gospel Online” may be the greatest course our teens will never take unless we offer it.
Technology has given us a great tool for connecting and discipling students. I have had some great chat sessions with students who are struggling or looking for answers. Technology makes it easier for my students to share their hurts or voice their questions without feeling threatened. I get texts for prayer requests. Through technology we are able to affirm and respond to each other’s needs much faster and fulfill the “one another’s” of scripture with real impact off line after we see it posted.
Technology draws us together, but it can also rip us apart. Technology has opened a wider door for gossip, bullying, and calling others out. Social media has created an unfiltered, unimpeded avenue that teens can drive down throwing out judgments and opinions like a paperboy drunk on Red Bull. This is where discipling becomes much easier because you know where your kids are spiritually and where they need help and prayer. It becomes harder to address the touchy issues of my group because of a teen’s integration with “their” technology and their “right” to express themselves through these mediums.
Technology hasn’t solved the challenge of being good at what we do, it has only allowed us to yell about what we offer, louder. Technology can spread information about our group, activity, or camp, but if our event or meeting is lame, technology becomes a double-edged sword. Many people will know about our activity, if it’s good, even great, But if it’s lame, EVERYONE will know about it. Shouting about activities may work for you, but maybe we can do better.
Maybe we should use technology to tell an epic tale about the work God is doing in our faith community – stories by kids about kids doing amazing things for God and God doing amazing things through them. I’ll take a long-term divine narrative over a series of “Come to…” any day of the week. Scroll through your tech; what story are you telling?
What Technology Still Can’t Do
Technology cannot make us more loving and kind;it can only make us seem that way. Real hugging is better than a Facebook poke. Face-to-face is better than FaceTime. Henry David Thoreau once said, “Men have become the tools of their tools.”
If we don’t want to become tools to our tech we should rethink how we are using it. If we want to reach more students with the gospel, bring our group closer together, and build our youth ministries, maybe we should turn off all the tech and instead pray, think, and read scripture until we have something authentic and powerful to post, tweet, or share.
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