Technology

An older pastor with some cross cultural experience writes this brief email to others in leadership seeking to encourage them in practical ways. These subjects could generally apply to any person seeking to glorify God.

Bible Perspective
The use of social media can be a hot topic for debate. Spending too much time on social media platforms and watching much news along with trivial material can be a sure way of drawing you away from God.
‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’ Colossians 3:1
‘Blessed are those whose hearts are pure. They will see God.’ Matthew 5:8

Observation
1.    The use of social media can be an exciting and powerful aid in ministry. For example in evangelism, emails for communication, encouragment and in saving years of hard work as in Bible Translation.
2.    Like money, technology can be neutral, used for good or evil.
3.    Be aware that advancing technology has the possibility of putting millions of people out of work e.g. Uber and AirBnB, causing much social unrest. The task of ‘work’ however created before the fall provides hope and purpose. Therefore the church may need to utilise people’s working ability more within the kingdom of God for building people up and in spreading the gospel.
4.    The use of media tools like ‘Power Point’ and ‘video clips’ can be useful in a talk, but it must never be a substitute for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When it comes to PP generally keep the presentation simple and don’t try and be clever by incorporating lots of movement, as it will become a distraction to your message.
5.    An average person checks their phone 150 times a day, so reports ‘Huffington Post’. There are Apps available now to measure the amount of time you spend on your phone on a daily basis. You could find the results rather frightening! Watch out for short-term happiness and long-term addiction!
6.    If you are working underground as a Believer, keep in mind that anything you write online has the possibility of being read by government officials. Substitute (*) on key letters in words to disguise the message may help in areas of safety.
7.    I was amazed recently when having computer problems in New Zealand I received a phone call where the speaker said he had noticed I had a computer problem and wanted to help me sort it out. He quoted the company he was from and when I asked how could I know if he could be trusted, he hung up! Sharing that incident soon afterwards with a techno friend he advised me to remove as much personal information on Facebook and various Apps as I could. On Facebook I did this through ‘Settings> info’, not that I hardly ever look at facebook.
8.    When having an interview or visiting, turn your phone onto silence and don’t answer it unless you are expecting a very important call. Ocassionally I have then asked the person I’m with if they would mind me answering an incoming expected important call at the start of our conversation.
9.    Take an uncomprising stand against pornography but if it becomes a problem use software which enables you to become accountable to a friend. This means they would be able to track the sites you visit.
10.  Whether you use social media or not don’t be controlled by anxiety. Our freedom is in Christ alone. ‘Greater is he who controls his spirit than he who takes a city’, Proverbs…..

Resources:

a.   These clips on ‘You Tube’ point out some of the present and future dangers of media.
A. ‘The Disrupters’ and B. ‘The Persuasion machine’ by Jamie Bartlett (BBC documentaries).
b.   My website http://www.firstfruitsministries.org.nzhas several free resources for download including a booklet widely used by new Christians ‘Growing in Christ’ (now being translated into Khmer) and a basic Pastor’s manual ‘Investing in Vision’.

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