What is Technology?

by Terry Wilhite

Technology for You

My definition-as a "recovering old fogey," whose church experiences go back to a wood-framed country church, where the only "technology" was a wobbling ceiling fan about ten feet from the back of the church that went clonk, clonk, clonk, clibble, clibble, clonk-is simple. Technology is a new tool that helps you achieve a goal faster and more efficiently than you could without it. In Gutenberg's day, paper and the printing press were technology. In the 1930s, electricity was technology.

My definition includes the word "new" because after a while, technology becomes as much a part of our lives as the spots on our carpet. When it does, we don't think about it as "technology" but necessity. Today, for example, projection screens in church sanctuaries and computers in sound rooms are technology. In a few years, they will become "necessity."

I am writing this article using a $1,500 computer that can also edit video better than the best television network's editing system could just five years ago (a system that cost $100,000 then, mind you). My eyes glance toward my Palm Pilot that contains three Bible translations and room for several more, yet slips into my shirt pocket. I'm reminded of the church software that helps keep our large family of faith small and organized.

What we need to do is to put the "technology thing" into perspective, by spelling out what technology is not. This should serve as a check list for us right now to ensure that technology does not distract us from the straight and narrow. (And by the way, my credentials as a recovering old fogey have helped me tremendously in putting this list together.)

Technology Is Not:

1. The power. Unquestionably, multimedia - the ability to deliver our message in a way that appeals to multiple senses (sight, sound, feeling…) is enormously powerful. But the power is still God's Holy Spirit, let's never forget. What we do is all about Jesus, not technology.

2. The message. The medium over the years has changed, but the message is timeless. If our use of technology ever gets more attention (glory) than the gospel message we're sharing, then we have failed miserably.

3. The presenter. You, a real live human being, are God's chosen and called way to communicate the gospel. God's plan is still to get his message out person to person.

4. The comforter. A computer is great, but I don't want one at my side in the waiting room of a hospital surgery suite or when I sit at the graveside of a loved one. I want you there, a real live human being with compassion, comfort, a tight hug and an encouraging word.

5. Communications-ability. Technology is no substitute for prayer, planning and preparation or the communications principles that Christ shows us how to use.

Let me remind you that there has never been a greater leap of technology than when God Himself suited up in human flesh to come to earth.

Wilhite, a communications and multimedia specialist, is a popular national writer and speaker, and has produced several best-selling videos, including Multimedia for Pastors, Lights, Camera, Digital Video, and M&M's (Music and MIDI) in a Box! Contact him at writeme@terrywilhite.com. or www.terrywilhite.