Blog Tour: From the Garden to the City

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.

4 Comments

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  1. I’m also a huge technophile, and I’m a bit apprehensive about the conclusions John is going to draw in the book. At the same time, as a pastor, I’m often asking myself and my colleagues, “Are we pastors or presenters? Teachers or technicians? Do we tweak our message so the video clip fits better, or are we using a video clip that perfectly ties in with what the Spirit has lead us to speak?”

    • Hi Phil, I think this blog tour will be both a lot of fun and mentally stimulating – pretty much the reasons I blog in the first place. I’m actually kind of an anomaly when it comes to a philosophy of technology because I approached the topic backwards. While I have always loved computers, I wasn’t really a full-fledged geek until Seminary (I started playing with linux to keep my brain occupied). I came into contact with Ellul’s thought, then, prior to becoming an actual geek. My undergrad theological education was also done from the perspective the Patristic period – we were trained to always think of dogma from within the crucible in which it was formed. These two realities, I think, change my attitude towards the integration of technology and ministry. I’ve actually consulted churches away from using technology when I’ve felt the congregation was just looking for a gimmick to get butts in the seats!

      As for your image thought up above. Here’s how I beat that back – I always do my presentation dead-last. I translate a few weeks ahead, and type up my thoughts on passage and the angle I want to preach on the week prior to the sermon. Then I create an outline and write a full manuscript on the Thursday morning prior to preaching and then I put it down for the day. Friday morning I do my first edit, add [image: “image idea”] in the places where I feel an image would illustrate things well – and only then create the presentation. If the projector blows up (which has actually happened to me), I can still preach.

  2. Great stuff, Wezlo. Love having you on the tour!

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