"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The iChurch is here and moving ahead

I’m a pretty traditional guy when it comes to church. There should be a degree of order and respect for God and His house; the traditional hymns of faith (it’s okay if there is a drum, a couple guitars, a flute, sax, violin and a synthesizer as long as the guitars don’t screech and wail louder than the words and the sanctuary can handle); you call the building a Sanctuary, not a Worship Center (makes it sound like a sports arena or something); you use a hymnal and not show everything on a screen; it’s okay to raise your hands and such, just don’t jump all over the place and hang from the chandeliers; and so on. Yeah, I am pretty traditional. Part of it may be the way I was raised, but mostly it is how I choose to worship. Personally. So, after all this being said….I do not have problems with churches who use contemporary means of music and worship to reach out. As the scriptures say, “….become all things to all men so that by some means we might save some…” I’ve been known to tap my toe or clap my hands on more than one occasion because the contemporary music is often very good and moving. Just give me the good ole’ Doxology, Gloria Patri and The Apostle’s Creed once in awhile.

The funny thing about all this is that I am totally in favor of churches using all methods of electronic media and technology to reach the communities and I see very few churches doing it. I am fortunate to be a part of a church in Conyers that does. Regular tweets of prayer requests and important news come from the church staff and volunteers. The church Facebook page stays busy during every day and night informing the membership and anyone else who looks about what is going on at the church. Daily devotional readings are posted. Photos of church events, videos of baptisms are available. They have an excellent website that is kept up to date so anyone can see what is happening right now. When people come to church, they are urged to “check-in” on Facebook so that all their friends, and their friends, can see that you are at a church in the easily accessible Henry/Rockdale/Newton area. Between services, a café is open for coffee and light refreshments with wireless internet connections available and we just sit and chat, getting to know each other better.

The biggest surprise I got a few months ago was when the sanctuary lights dimmed for the pastor’s message; I noticed a strange glow coming from across the congregation. After a few moments, I realized the light was coming from iPads, Kindles and other tablet readers where people were using them for their Bibles. Many of them also have the capability to make notes and search references as you need to. Not wanting to be left behind in the technology world of churchdom, I have begun taking my Kindle and using it. For awhile I felt terribly guilty, but I have gotten used to the convenience of looking at different versions easily and, well, kinda being on the cutting edge.

My thoughts about all this are to remember that the church of the first century is the same church as it is today. The message has not changed one bit, but the methods of “doing” church have changed. And that’s okay. We shouldn’t be mad if someone uses their iPad for a Bible, just be glad they are reading God’s Word. Don’t complain that “they do not do things like we used to.” Find somewhere else that you can be happy. All in all, folks, regardless of what you think, it is not your church. It’s God’s church and we need to remember that.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.