Media Rich and Relationally Poor

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I read an article in The Banner by Quentin Schultze, “Connected or Cut Off?” Professor Schultze talks about how media often starts out as a communal activity but evolves into something done alone -- from reading to television. Do you think that applies to the church’s use of media as well? When we use media -- Facebook, our websites, Twitter, online sermons or services -- our goal is to connect with our members and the world, but will it (or has it) actually become something that cuts us off from each other?

Just as we used to watch movies together in a movie theater but now can sit at home, stream them onto a device and watch them on our own, do you think that will happen to our church services? Someday, will we sit at home, watch our services on a device, and be only “virtually” together?

Actually, that’s happening today. There are “Facebook churches” whose members meet only through Facebook, and of course there have been worship services on t.v. for many years already. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Should we stop using media for fear of sliding in the direction of being what Schultze calls “media rich and relationally poor?”

Like everything else, media can be used for good and bad. And like most things, there’s always a flip side. We provide streaming videos of our service so those who are shut-in can be connected. The flip side is it makes it easy for anyone to stay home and participate virtually, rather than being a part of the living community meeting together at church.

In his article, Schultze says:

“God made us social creatures with strong desires to share our lives with friends and family. Yet we have to use new media intentionally for our shared lives or we might discover that we are becoming media rich and relationally poor.”

This is true for the church, too. We need to be intentional about the way we use technology. What do you think that looks like?

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i would love to see churches take advantage of social media. For example instead of using the provided Bibles I pull out my smartphone with YouVersion so I can read the Bible verse, take notes, or even Tweet or put on FaceBook verses or things that strike me about the sermon. It's a common practice at blogging or social media conferences that helps participants connect with others in the room and those who couldn't be there in person. I see that YouVersion offers a service like that. Not sure if any CRC churches are using it.

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Wendy,

Thank you for your comment. YouVersion looks like a very rich tool. I plan to explore it more fully. And LifeChurch.tv, who offers YouVersion, is also an interesting site and concept. I'm going to check that out, too. At first glance I thought it was intriguiging that LifeChurch encourages attending church while at the same time making full use of social media.

Mavis