From the early days, the Church has faced many threats. Persecution is one that comes to mind. Allowing worldly culture is one of the threats early leaders warned against. God has always found ways of communicating threats to each generation and culture. One of the hallmarks of our present day is technology. No generation has known realtime connectivity, for example, in the way we do. And, this has some people listing technology as a threat. The threat to the Church isn’t necessarily technology.
Technology in itself is an enabler. Most threats in relation to technology are perceived. I’m not suggesting tech doesn’t present us challenges to be mindful of. How we use the tools is what matters. Tech can be a tool that helps us fulfill God’s mission.
Of course, there are many many things we look at that come against the mission of the Church. I’m sure we could come up with a tome. For the purposes of this post, I’d like us to look at one:
Knowing Who We Are—Identity
This, for me, is one of the most significant things for the Church to keep in sight. Identity. Regardless of the time and culture we, as the Church, exist in, we must have an unwavering grasp of our identity.
One of the most significant threats to churches/ministries is a focus on what they do at the expense of who they are. Methods and technologies are transient. Making them anchors instead of who we’re called to be, takes churches and ministries off course.
The Church has a mission in search of a means and not means in search of mission.
Don’t read too much into that. When our identity and mission are clear and always at the forefront, we’re resolute in our pursuit. The debate moves from technology to our identity and mission.
Movements like the Reformation grew from the Church desiring to be more like the Church. The Nicene Creed and others like it were about, who we are and what we’re about as the Church. What we believe is at the center of our identity. It informs how we invest resources.
We must pay attention to the opportunities tech gives us. This exploration has to come from our identity. Some of what we consider as technological threats are opportunities misunderstood. Most challenges with tech will be clarified if we look at them from the seat of our identity and mission.