High-Tech Worship? Using Presentational Technology Wisely

We find ourselves caught in the peril of the pendulum often times. We easily move from one extreme to another. A conversation with a staff member this morning reminded me of that. He was asked to recommend resources to help a congregation move from a more traditional worship style to a willingness to use more contemporary expressions of worship.

Quentin Schultze is a name familiar to us for his expertise in communication and technology. We have also appreciated his commitment to the church and his obvious desire to be a churchman. His book could meet some real needs with people who are struggling with questions such as: Is it possible to use technology in worship in a manner that actually enables us to worship God in an acceptable manner? If so, should we do so?

Schultze is probably one of the most balanced writers I have read on this subject. He certainly defends the usage of technology in worship while cautioning about the overuse or abuse of technology, which merely degrades worship. Worship has to be biblical to be acceptable but that does not mean that we have to worship just as we have always done. But there may be justifiable reasons to do things differently in order to help today’s worshipers experience God’s presence in fresh and understandable ways.

Schultze says, “Using presentational technologies wisely in worship requires sound judgment about thorny issues that predate current equipment and contemporary worship styles.” He further writes, “As caretakers of worship we need to be involved in planning a wide range of aesthetic, musical, technical, and leadership talents-all under the authority of the pastor and other spiritual leaders. Giving worship over to one or another expert-whether a technician or a theologian or even a specialist in liturgy-will not serve the congregation well.” As he says that, he cautions a church to move forward with new technologies slowly. Taking things more slowly gives a congregation a chance to reflect on the new practices and to adjust to the changes. Wise counsel!

While I appreciate and recommend this book, I especially liked two chapters: “Corporate Worship and Technology” and “Avoiding Quick-Fix Techniques.” Jesus was a master technician when it came to knowing how to communicate and teach his message. He used a wide variety of techniques and methodologies. The Bible, our regulative guide in worship, gives us a certain amount of leeway and creativity to use in worship. That should not frighten us with all the possibilities, nor should it give us unlimited freedom.

Schultze concludes: “Although we sometimes overestimate the value of new technologies in worship, we had better not underestimate their potential as well.” No matter where you or your church may come down on the use of technology, I believe it would be a valuable exercise to read and discuss Schultze’s book with local leadership.

Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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