Thursday, September 27, 2007

High Tech Worship and the Traditionalist

I am back, and no, my reason for not posting is not because my secretary decided to join the GM workers on their strike. Rather, I was at a Pastor's convention learning about politics in the pulpit; before you ask no, it was not about Jesus First vs. (insert your favorite confessional group). Instead, it was about engaging the topics of governmental politics, such as universal health care; you know, the things our members are wasting their time with instead of pondering the wonders of the genus maiestaticum. The conference was short on answers, but it was thought provoking, and made me realize just how much people have forgotten about the theology of the Two Kingdoms. Seems like we need more preaching and teaching on the Two Kingdoms in order to counteract the reformed who mistakenly believe that a government can be Christian. Anyhow, enough about the past three days and on into more important things, such as worship wars!

Technology and traditional worship do not seem to go hand in hand in the mind of traditionalists. I have heard many complain that it is a distraction, un-needed, unChristian (or more specifically unLutheran), and a crutch for poor preaching. Sadly, I am not sure this is an unbiased view of technology. I think this view largely stems from technologies' link with vacuous contemporary worship practices. At the same time, there is truth to the traditionalist's complaints concerning technology. This is rather sad, because technology has the potential to be a great tool for the proclamation of the Gospel.

The first thing we need to get into our head is that ours is a visual society. Increasingly, our information is coming to us in the visual formats. If you disagree, why are you reading my blog? It is purely visual. We would be wise to figure out ways to fit the visual technology into the the traditional services. A simple start is by putting up the pericope - the Bible reading - on the screen; it saves paper, and lets everybody follow along with the lector. We put a fair number of our announcements up on the screen and run them between services; this cuts down on paper and the annoying break in the liturgy to announce next week's potluck. And, before anybody comments that I could save paper by not printing out the week's service, we're way ahead of you; we haven't done that for the traditional service since the arrival of our LSB's. The visual cues can also help people during the sermon.

My pastor friend had to take speech communications as an undergrad; for some reason, they expected doctors, veterinarians, and scientists to actually be able to communicate (I am not sure it really worked by the way: half the time I can't understand a word he says), but he tells me they taught him how to use visual aids to help aid understanding and to drive home his points. Many of our people will remember our key points better if they can see it as well as hear it. We do ourselves a disservice to not utilize the visual medium just because a couple of hacks ruined it. We didn't throw out private confession just because a few papists abused it, did we? Take advantage of the technology to help your people understand some of the more esoteric nuances of our theology.

Now, some have said technology is a distraction, and I have to agree it can be. The best solution is: don't be an idiot. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Our worship services shouldn't look like a middle-schooler's My Space page. Simple and clean with appropriate imagery does the trick every time. There is a time and place for using flashy moving backgrounds but in the middle of a rousing rendition of "A Mighty Fortress" is not one of them.

Long story short, technology can be our friend in the traditional setting. We don't have to leave it all in the hands of the vacuous mega-church types and their wanna-bes.

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