Eight Reasons to Use Technology During Worship - What you ought to
consider before bringing multimedia into the sanctuary.
The following excellent article by Quentin J. Schultze is taken from FaithVisuals, and is well worth a read.
A lot of churches have started to use multimedia technology in their services. But what often gets lost in the rush to have "the next great thing" is the question "why?" What will necessarily be gained and lost by incorporating multimedia into our services?
1. We want to keep our young people interested in worship.
In our survey, three-quarters of churches said they began using visual media technologies in worship to achieve "better relevance" for youth. But who are we kidding when it comes to the average congregation keeping youth involved in church by importing flashy presentations into liturgical practices? Most of our productions will be second-rate compared with popular culture—unless we limit our efforts to what is appropriate for worship and what we can do well.
To the extent that presentational technologies are fitting for parts of your liturgy, why not involve congregational youth in the planning, training, and use of such technologies? Some young people have skill and experience when it comes to designing computer graphics, editing videotapes, and using presentational software. One of the strengths of high-tech churches is that they tend to be more open to the gifts and talents of younger members.
2. It's time to boost the quality of congregational singing.
Contemporary worship music is melody driven and relatively easy to sing. I have heard repeatedly from advocates that this music, when projected on a screen, stimulates congregations to sing vibrantly.
So far this probably has been the greatest benefit of using presentational technologies in worship. If the rest of the liturgy is untouched, however, will members sing more enthusiastically just because words are on a screen and hands are free to be raised? Not always, because each congregation has its own, long-existing culture influenced by ethnicity, neighborhood, age, and the like. We should use new music when it is doctrinally sound, leads people to praise God, and helps to form the parishioners into Gods obedient people.
3. We need to change with the culture or we will lose members to other churches.
It's time to embrace the twenty-first century, or so the argument goes. Churches that fail to adopt new worship technologies will become dinosaurs—extraneous to the broader culture. High-tech is the future, whether we like it or not. Since some people prefer worship that includes more technology, this is probably a legitimate concern. Nevertheless, each congregation has to discover its route to faithfulness, given its distinctive history, local community, and available gifts and talents. The twenty-first century will not look the same for all congregations. Nor should it.
4. We have to create more powerful worship experiences.
An overly enthusiastic desire to use technology to create a powerful worship experience can too easily lead a church to a darkly utilitarian view of worship. Simplistic ends—like an emotional high or a feel-good experience—do not justify technological means.
Worship is not meant to hinge on individual or collective experience, but to focus our attention on what God has done, is doing, and has promised to do in the world. Ultimately, liturgy is the work of God's grace in our lives, not our techniques for creating experiences.
5. We want to let visitors and members know that we are a first- rate church.
This rationale rightly suggests that believers ought to attend to the impression that their worship facilities, services, and technologies give to the wider world.
A goal of being first-rate technologically, without a commitment to worship per se, is not a sign of godly progress. If a church brags about its investment in presentational technologies, but its presentations could be done almost as well with hundreds of thousands of dollars less, something is fundamentally wrong. Why not impress people with the quality of worship and the richness of congregational life—with or without high-tech methods?
6. Without using new technologies, we will not be able to increase the size of our congregation.
This is a knotty rationale to address, because larger, wealthy congregations often have all kinds of other things going for them: greater word of mouth (the best church "advertising" there is), higher visibility locations, a less threatening environment because of being able to visit anonymously, a larger and more skilled technology staff, paid worship leaders and sometimes even musicians, psychological momentum, and more.
Smaller churches are not as likely to use advanced technologies well, partly because they do not have the resources or expertise and partly because they sometimes overestimate their own capabilities.
Numerical congregational growth is a thorny criterion. Depending on what else comes with it, it could be blessing or bane to good worship.
7. Presentational technologies will allow us to expand our worship space.
This rationale carries considerable weight, because all churches should consider the visual and aural aspects of worship space. If a church is growing numerically, a time will come when its existing worship space will not be adequate.
Technology can expand the spatial scale of worship with enhanced visual and aural clarity, but technologies cannot guarantee that congregants will be a church, only that they can do church.
Regardless of how much presentational technology a congregation implements, a church has to use the technology to counter mainstream culture, which defines public events in terms of consumption rather than participation.
8. New technologies offer us a means of serving members of our congregations who are hard of hearing or have difficulty seeing.
This alone is a solid argument in favor of incorporating presentational technology in worship. As followers of Jesus Christ we need to think seriously about how new technologies can serve those in our churches who have special needs. To bring them more fully into corporate worship is a laudatory goal.
It is one thing to improve only marginally the quality of worship for everyone in a congregation and something far greater to include in the liturgical dialogue people who are otherwise unable to participate well or fully.
—Quentin J. Schultze, High-Tech Worship (Baker, 2004). Pages 53-60.
Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2004.