Monday, March 21, 2011

Why Churches Don't Need Technology

Churches are notorious for being behind the times when it comes to technology. My own church only recently purchased a large projection screen on which we display the announcements and the pastor’s sermon outline as his preaches. As for our classrooms, most of them don’t have a computer and a projector. After reading Nancy Duarte’s books resonate and slide:ology, I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t a good thing.

I’ve spent enough time working in corporate America to have seen many presentations. For some reason, the moment you install Power Point on a worker’s machine, his ability to communicate flies out the window. I’ve sat through meetings in which a presenter sat at a computer at the back of the room and read from an acronym laden slide at the front of the room that looked more like an eye chart than a slide. I have sat through meetings and amused myself by trying to guess which co-worker would nod off first.

As eager as people are for churches to embrace technology, my fear is that technology in the wrong hands will ruin the teaching ministry of the church. Can you imagine walking into a darkened Sunday school classroom on Sunday morning and trying to follow along as the teacher sat at computer over in the corner and read his outline to you off a slide?

The thing is, there are a lot of Sunday school teachers who don’t have the latest technology available to them, but they have an advantage over the technology gurus in corporate America who put their outline on a few slides and read it to their audience. The lack of technology forces these teachers to look for other ways to get their point across. Instead of sitting behind their audience, they sit or stand at the front of the room. When they have something to display visually, they might draw on the board, or bring some object to class. Instead of rushing to get through all the slides, these teachers ask questions and invite their students to participate. In short, they do all the things a good presenter is supposed to do.

That’s not to say that Power Point or some other presentation software can’t be used effectively in a church setting. If people would use it the way they should, they could keep doing the things that the teachers without technology are doing, but let’s not forget the many people who have mastered Power Point just well enough to put people to sleep. If that is what technology is going to do for churches, maybe it isn’t worth the expense.

Do you use presentation technology in your church? Is it used effectively?