Getting Practical About Information Technology and the Church

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By Bethel Mennonite Church. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Children becoming functioning adults doesn’t happen by accident. The opposite is also true, it isn’t an accident when people who have struggles emerge from communities and families.

Ezra 8:21 – We are seeking a right way for us. This is what the church of Christ is instructed and authorized to do.

The digital revolution has happened quickly. What we need is more than just simple restriction, thoughtful preaching, etc to get us where we need to go. There are three pillars that we’ll be looking at and how information technology affects them.

Information Technology at Home

With the digital information and revolution that we are living in we need to make decisions that our parents just didn’t have to make. How much screen time should my child have? What content should they have access to?

It isn’t baseless to claim that in the first three years of a child’s life there is no benefit for a child, but there is an opportunity to cause damage. Many times technology is just a cheap baby sitter.

There is lots of technology that promises to teach our children. The reality is that screen time is not a replacement for personal engagement. It is not a replacement for time spent with real people.

When we offer screens in place of physical connection we are depriving them of the preparatory work they are going to need to develop into functioning adults. Learning something that our children do, not something that technology can do to them. Play for young children is very important for the full development of a young child.

Information Technology at Work

Genesis 2 – In a lot of ways this is an expansion on what happened in Genesis 1. As God’s representatives human kind have work to do. They find meaning and satisfaction in the work that they do.

We can loose a sense of meaning in our work as we experience more fragmentation. Computers used to only be able to run one program at a time. Now they can run a lot of programs at the same time. As our computers got more powerful we often need more screens just to keep up with the information that is coming at us.

We call this multitasking, it isn’t so bad when the tasks are all clustered. When we’re switching between activities of the same sort. Often though we randomly jump between tasks. The average office worker checks his email every hour. Smartphones are picked up on average about 1500 times per week, it more frequently for a “power user.”

The reality is that we, humans, can’t multitask. We only have one attention to give. The light of the body is the eye, not the eyes. Why does this matter? The enemy of simplicity is multiplicity, the division of mental, financial, spiritual energy. Simplicity often disappears from our lives because of the “harmless” and “good” things that we allow in our lives. When we are trying to do all these things at once we are loosing our ability to live in simplicity and with focus.

How do we find meaning in our work? The reason we work is to meet needs. We don’t work to make money, we work to do things like feed our children and to keep them warm, to bring their minds and hearts alive. The more we work for these reasons the more satisfaction we can gain.

Information Technology and Faith

Technology allows us to stand by as bystanders of incredible violence. We can live through our finger tips the most violent moments of history. Participation in the standing by watching content like this does have an affect. Technology has walked right into reach, right to our finger tips. When we celebrate the violent success of a movie, or the script of a game we play pits us in deadly conflict with people we begin to loose touch with the connection between our actions and their affects in real life.

What do you think of when we say “morality” and “internet” in the same sentence. Often we think about pornography. The demoralizing affect of technology is something that takes place long before a person becomes addicted to pornography.

There is a tendency to “amuse” ourselves with technology teaches us to be apathetic in the face of stress and other situations of life. Hard things and stressful things can be instructive. When we go through hard things and work through them we build moral capital, we build character.

Dealing with Technology and its Challenges

Our ability to discriminate and to make good choices with technology can be redeemed. We don’t have to be guided by technology we can use it as a tool and not have it dominate our lives.

We can deal with technology by retreating into digital deserts of our own making.

We can also choose to be conscious and intentional. We need to be demanding of technology. Where we can’t do this we should probably “cast it from us.”

Our willpower is in fact a very limited resource. We need to build a culture where openly confessing weaknesses, tendencies and even addictions is possible. We can build deserts, and retreat from technology, but we also need to be transformed.

We do well to remember that the audience that Jesus addressed struggled to give Him their full attention… and they didn’t have cell phones! As we deal with challenges of our times it is good to remind ourselves that we are only facing new faces to problems that have been issues for some time.

The mature believer is one who has his senses trained to discern good and evil in a variety of circumstances. Perhaps more importantly this kind of believer can also discern between good and best.

It takes practice and the inconvenience of community that is committed to each other and to do walk through this together. Does this choice form me after Christ, His commands, His desires, His image?

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