Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Power of Media

I just finished a book called "The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture" by Shane Hipps. The subtitle of this is How media shapes faith, the gospel, and church. The book relies heavily on the writings of a prolific philosopher-author name Marshall McCluhan. If you had to summarize the book in five words, it would be The Medium is the Message.

While this observation is hardly new, Hipps lays out the evolution of modern communication systems and constantly comes back to the Church whenever an application or example is useful. I use the capitalized "Church" on purpose here, because many of the issues need to be applied to we the Church, the body of Christ, as well as individual churches and congregations.

The fundamental risk we take when introducing technology into the Church, whether into the actual worship service or elsewhere, is this: it is extremely challenging to avoid changing the message - the Gospel - when presenting that message using new technology. Hipps is not a Luddite, so we shouldn't discount this as someone who simply objects to a projection screen in the sanctuary. But we should recognize that once we have the ability to project videos with high quality sound, we have to make sure that the message is not contradicted by the very technology we apply. The best (really the worst) example of this is on p 151. A pastor preaches on the importance of emphasizing character over talent. The well-rehearsed, dramatic, message was being broadcast live to satellite congregations at two "off campus" locations. The impersonal performance experienced by the remote groups precisely contradicted the message itself.

There are a few other fascinating tidbits in this book. One I have to highlight is the concept of church governance by consensus. The idea here is that big decisions are brought before the entire congregation and and a unanimous vote is required for passage. This has the remarkable effect of distributing the power to all the people and simultaneously concentrating all the power in every person. I can't convince you that this is every going to work without retyping several pages of the book, so this will have to do (p136):

The effect is a paradoxical one. Each person in the room is given the full power and authority to stop a decision or action being taken by the congregation. Because everyone in the room has all the power, no one is jockeying for power - they already have it. In an unexpected way this nurtures caution and humility in the people. It minimizes hidden agendas and breeds a deep commitment to unity.
There are examples that follow of some amazing consequences and results from this method.

Overall, this was a really good read. There are a lot of issues here that everyone in any modern church setting needs to consider - especially those involved in leading worship.

Thanks for stopping by. Shalom.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Internet

This is just for internet geeks. Here is a really cool map of the way that IP addresses are distributed both numerically and geographically. I'll admit I like maps, and just like all good maps, you can stare at this one anytime and learn something new about something. In this case, among other things, you will be reminded that the US has a lot of control of the internet, or at least we did in the beginning. A small handful of major US high-tech firms have more addressing capability the the entire third world combined.

I guess things are OK for now. That is, until I can't get an IP address for my toaster.

First Post

OK, so what's up with OO24? First, was taken (you're on my short list Lacy Parker, of Johnson High School ;-) This was not a big surprise. So I settled for a couple of capital Os.

More to the point: two years ago when my church went through the 40 Days of Purpose, near the end we were offered the chance to fill out a form stating any change in heart you might have had over the last six weeks. Things like "given myself to Jesus Christ," "recommitted my life to J.C." and the like. We ended up with a small handful of new believers (cool!) and 23 people saying they were recommitting themselves to follow Jesus.

Not being one to fill out forms, I started referring to myself as the secret 24th. I figure it is not a secret to Jesus, and I believe He is more interested in the way I live my life than what I write on a form.

So, there you have it. Double-O 24. That's me. Shalom.