Tag: Technology

#delete Facebook

So, I did it. I deleted Facebook — the app, the link, and my account. I hope you’ll continue to follow my blog, but it will no longer appear in your Facebook feed. Thanks.

 

Who Do You Trust?

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The epistle reading for today is Colossians 1:15-23. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae contrasting the good news of Jesus with the claims of the first century Roman empire.

In their book Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, authors Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat contend that Colossians contrasts the violence, inhumanity, and corruption of the Roman empire with the new imagination of Christian community centered around Christ.

As a Roman outpost, Colossae participated in the emperor cult which asserted that the emperor was the son of god and the deity around which the universe revolved. The Roman empire was also the undisputed example of political organization and military might. From Rome’s dominance came what was ironically called the Pax Romana — the Roman peace. However, the Roman peace was secured with overwhelming violence against those nations and city-states Roman legions pacified by force.

Paul challenges the ideas of the emperor’s supremacy, the empire’s legitimacy, and the Pax Romana with the assertion that Christ is the image of God, the creator of all things, the sustainer of the universe, the first-born from the dead, the head of a new community called the church, and the true prince of peace.

The point of Paul’s letter to the Colossians was to contrast the misplaced confidence they formerly had in the Roman empire with the new hope they found in Christ. Prior to following Christ as Lord, the Colossians had placed their trust in the Empire for their security, happiness, and fulfillment.

Today millions have misplaced their trust, too. If Paul were writing the letter to the Colossians today, he might contrast the trust we place in power, money, and technology with the supremacy of Christ.

Power is still the currency of international relationships. Mao Zedong said, “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.” That philosophy is shared by virtually all of the nation-states on the world stage today. While the United States is still the most powerful nation on earth, countries like North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others project the power they have in order to influence international events. Just as the Roman empire used its military, economic, and political power to shape the course of history, nations continue to be seduced by the promise of power today.

The second member of our illegitimate trinity is money. China is relocating 325-million peasants — rural farmers — into newly-created cities. Why? Because China’s economy, according to the IMF and other economists, doesn’t have enough consumerism. The key to growth in the Chinese economy in the near future, economists say, is creating a new class of consumers who will buy TVs, refrigerators, cell phones, and cars. In a world where one billion people live on less than $1 a day, money is a seductive force, often coupled with power.

However, a new player has entered the arena as a close partner to power and money. Both power and the quest for money are being driven by technology. We now have the technology to instantly deliver books, newspapers, and magazines to personal computers, tablets, or mobile phones. In  2007 Steve Jobs of Apple introduced the iPhone and revolutionized the mobile phone industry. Today over 5 billion cell phones are in service, and 1 billion of those are smart phones.

The NSA surveillance programs leaked by Edward Snowden showed us that the US now possesses and uses advanced technology to track every telephone call, email, and cell phone location everywhere in the world; scan those communications for suspicious links to suspicious characters; track users by location; and, know who everyone everywhere in the world is talking to and what they are talking about.

Technology is our Pax Romana — both the new security savior and cyber weapon in our war to be safe from terrorism. Our trust in technology compels us to give out our credit card information, our personal history, our family and friend connections, the schools we attended, our workplace, our daily routines, even where we eat, shop, and travel. Why? Because we cannot live without the always-on, always-available world at our fingertips. We depend on technology for friendships, for commerce, for security, and even for our faith (yes, there are online churches and faith groups). Increasingly, we give away our own privacy in pursuit of friends, followers, page views, and search rankings.

But power has not brought peace, consumerism has not brought satisfaction, and technology has not brought with it the authentic life we yearn to live.

We have separated our faith from our function as human beings, believing that we, too, can place absolute trust in power, money, and technology. By doing so, we are letting those things shape us.

Paul reminds us that we ought to be shaped by the radical good news that this world system, whether the Roman empire of the first century or the internet of the 21st century, are not the legitimate gods of this world. They are the pretenders, the interlopers, and the pale substitutes for that which is real.

If you want to know God, Paul says, look at Jesus. If you want to know who the creator of the world is look at Jesus. If you want to know who keeps the world turning, look at Jesus. If you want to know who’s in charge of everything, even the things that are not acting according to God’s plan, look at Jesus.

If you want to know where real peace comes from look at Jesus.

Despite the fact that misplaced trust in power, money, and technology are found in every culture on every continent, Paul says the good news about Jesus is also ubiquitous.

The question then becomes: Who do you trust? After all, the Roman empire is no longer a world power, is it?

The E-book revolution

E-books are popping up everywhere suddenly.  As I write this, mediabistro.com’s e-book summit is livestreaming on my office PC.   The hot nearly-new gift for Christmas this year is an e-reader — a Kindle, a Nook, a Sony Reader, or one of the others coming soon.  The entire publishing industry is all abuzz about e-books.  Simon & Schuster announced last week that they would delay e-book editions for four months, giving breathing room to their print editions. Stephen Covey has just broken ranks with his print publisher, asserting his ownership of digital rights, and has struck a deal with Amazon to sell his books at the Kindle store.


What does all this mean?  Here’s my take, for what’s its worth:

  • E-readers are transition devices. Just like PDAs and netbooks, dedicated e-readers are going to bridge the gap between the non-technology generation (baby boomers and older) and the technology natives (those who grew up with all this digital stuff).  In less than 5-years (maybe sooner) e-readers will look as quaint as PDAs do now.
  • Print publishing and print publishers are going away. Just like newspapers, it’s not the content people don’t want, it’s the format (print) and the super slow delivery system.  Even daily newspaper delivery looks really slow compared to instant access to anything you want to read or see. Having to go to a store to buy a book, or even wait for the Amazon delivery 1-2 days later will quickly fade.  This is the always-on era, including all media — books and magazines are just late to this party.
  • Creators will own the entire process, if they want to. People can now create, format, and upload to Amazon and other epub bookstores.  Good stuff will still find its market.
  • Creators may not want to own the entire process, and may outsource the editing and epublishing technicalities to others.  Hence, epublishers are born to deliver as much or as little assistance as needed, both editorially and technically.
  • Distribution can work across multiple channels like Amazon, Sony’s ebookstore, B&N’s ebookstore, and lesser knowns such as Boooklocker, etc.  But, Amazon rules the day now.  They created the instant delivery, the first e-reader that did not need to hook up to a computer, and the “first instantly available with no hassles” delivery system.
  • Print publishers are still trying to protect a dying format — the hardcover first edition.  Note the ill-conceived plan of Simon & Schuster to delay ebooks for 4 months after the hardcover edition.
  • New epublishers who do not think “print” will offer new perspectives on the whole publishing industry.
  • It’s all going mobile soon. Back to my fascination with mobile phones.  Obviously the iPhone was the game-changer that set a new paradigm of multiple uses for a mobile phone.  Tomi Ahonen had a piece last week citing stats that Americans now use their phones more for texting than for voice calls.  The transition has already started of mobile devices as total communication tools — voice, text, data, reader, video, photos, music, internet, pda, etc, etc.  Depending on what Apple does with its iTablet, if it exists, this could be another game changer.  However, the new, rumored Google Phone (bigger screen than the iPhone), which is set to work seamlessly with Google Books is really the future.  One device, that fits in your pocket, that does everything you want to do.
  • What, you ask, does this have to do with small churches, or churches of any size?  For the first time ever in the history of humankind (drumroll) you will be able to communicate directly, personally, and at any time with anyone you choose to.  This has huge implications for how churches communicate, gather people, do ministry, and publish their message.  What do you think are some ways churches could benefit from the epublishing, ebook, and mobile phone revolution?

    A Global and Mobile Future

    Thanks to Bobby Gruenewald at LifeChurch.tv’s Swerve blog for bringing this video to our attention.  It’s about 5 1/2 minutes, but you will be amazed.  Watch it.  The future is here.

    The future is here and it’s mobile

    I got tired of lugging my laptop to meetings, so I got a Blackberry before I went to NOC2008 in San Diego.  Of course, when I got there, everyone I saw had an iPhone or a BB, so I’m not exactly on the cutting edge here, but I’m still impressed.  I had no idea you could do almost everything on a mobile device, which brings me to the point — take the quantum leap and make everything you do mobile.   Here’s what I mean:

    1. Redesign your blog.  I realized that I had to scroll down the left column of my blog on my BB before I got to the middle column where my posts are.  I’m rethinking my blog design and hope to find a more mobile-friendly design.  But, I actually posted to the blog from my mobile.  
    2. Redesign your website.  Same problems as above, only more so.  Mobile delivery is how most people will get their content soon (Asia already does this), so your site needs to display well on mobile devices. 
    3. Blog on Twitter.  I hadn’t realized the value of Twitter until I got a BB.  Very convenient, to the point, and fast. Look for more bloggers to go this way (okay, I know they’re already going this way — check Ed Stetzer, for example.) Twitter also posts to Facebook — two birds with one stone.
    4. Chunk-up your content.  Shorter is better on mobiles, I’ve discovered.  Chunk-up content into bite-sized pieces.  Forget the 3,000 word posts.
    5. Checkout the apps stores for mobile devices.  Lots of good apps including searchable Bibles, ebooks, weather, news updates, and tons more.  You’re no longer tethered to the lappy or the desktop.

    Okay, some of you are way ahead of me on this.  How are you using your smartphones in ministry?  What apps have you downloaded and how do you use them?  Is anyone out there all mobile all the time?

    The internet for everyone?

    I ran across this site, internetforeveryone.org, which touts “the internet for everyone.” Not hard to figure that out — their reasoning is broadband access enables everyone to participate in democracy and exercise free speech.  Good argument, especially in light of the fact that only 20% of the world has access to the internet.  In the US, only 35% of families with income under $50,000 have broadband access.  That’s one reason we included a computer lab and wifi access in our new community center.

    But back to small churches — does the internet figure in your small church ministry, and if so, how?  In our church, only about a dozen families even use e-mail, so the internet is not a big factor for us.  When we tried to do an on-line church-wide survey, we had to print paper surveys and then enter the results on-line manually because so few of our members use the internet.

    But, your church may be different.  Do you use email, a website, text messaging, instant messaging, on-line ads, or any other internet services in your ministry setting?  Does your church have a website?  Does your church provide at least the office area with broadband access?  Is is necessary for small churches?  I’d like to know what you’re doing, and so would lots of other small-church folks.  So, either drop me a postcard, or hey, why not comment here!  Thanks.

    Reach

    Thanks to Tim Hyde of LivingOS for this link to animoto.com.  Click thru to see the 30-second video I put together using animoto.com — it’s a 30-second tour of our work with the Boys and Girls Club including the dedication of the new community center. Take a look! Unfortunately, this free WordPress format won’t show it here, so click here to see Reach.