Note: If you want to follow along with the Blog Tour for this book, follow this link to the ChurchM.ag site.
Several years ago I attended presented at BibleTech 2011 and sat in on a session led by John Dyer. I was immediately impressed. John highlighted things that I wanted to briefly touch on during my session on Sermon Painting, and did a stellar job. In him I found a person of theological depth, technological skill, and rare wisdom. John clearly embraced the use of technology, but tried to do so with his eyes open. He showed an understanding f how technology changes us when we use it, and managed to offer the freedom to ask “what will this cost us as human-beings?” without over-selling his point. As I said, I was impressed.
When I heard that John was writing a book based on his insights I thought, “I think I’ll have to read that.” when I heard he needed people to participate in a blog tour on the book I thought, “I need to do that.”. So here I am. In some ways I might appear to be an odd participant in this tour. I’m an unabashed geek-pastor who loves exploring the use of technology in ministry pursuits. To that end I’m on the regional staff of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey to help teach others how to do the same. My congregation, and many folks in our denomination, think of me as a “gadget geek,” always ready to play with a new toy. They aren’t wrong, I love putting tech through it’s paces and seeing what uses I can come up with for it. Why, with my ministry focus and background, would I want to participate in a book discussion that might end up dampening my enthusiasm? A good question, with (I hope) an equally good answer.
The truth is, John and I are on similar projects. He uses his theological, philosophical, and technological understanding to ask questions about the impact of technology first on our common humanity and then how it impacts the practice of our faith. I move in a similar fashion. Beginning with the assumption that humanity has been changed by technology, and that not all of those changes positively impact the expression of our humanity*, I hope to encourage the Church to take up new technologies with wisdom. Technology changes us in both good and bad ways that require reflection and insights a lot deeper than asking, “How many hours should I be allowed to be on the Internet a day?” John asks these questions well, and I am grateful that he does.
So, over the next few weeks, look for my posts on From the Garden to the City. Or, if you’d like, go get the book yourself and join us on the journey. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.
* The fact that I begin my project with an assumption shows that John is a more studious thinker than I am, but I read Ellul relatively early during my higher education so it’s been ingrained into my core.