Using Technology to Lead and Love People

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Near frenzy appears to drive the creation and adoption of web technologies. Just when one masters a blog, here comes a Twitter feed. When MySpace finally makes sense, Facebook changes the paradigm. If you’re a working professional you’re no doubt LinkedIn, check your Gmail on your BlackBerry, and periodically find your head in the tag clouds. As the Senior Director for GodBlogCon, now called the Christian Web Conference, it was my job to be aware of emerging web technologies and help you, the web savvy Christian leader, employ them effectively for the cause of Christ.

When I first was asked to assume leadership of the conference, I was excited. I am a leader at heart and have always dreamed of running my own company. I am especially attracted to the web industry. I observed that smart, trendy young people work for web-based companies. Many of our cultural geniuses and top CEOs reside on the top of mountainous tech companies. Tech is a booming industry and opportunity abounds. Who wouldn’t want the respect, power, and credibility of Microsoft’s Bill Gates? To this day, I really think that the web is going places. I see the web as our new social scene, our new town square. The web is full of useful tools that can plug us into its bustling commerce and social scene.

Through my work with the conference these past three years, I observed Christians giving mixed responses to the web. Some dismissed it as a source of porn and other unchristian indecency. Others saw frivolity or luxury in web based expenditures, preferring to reach people through time-tested, traditional media.

And yet to some Christians, the web appeal was strong. These Christians saw opportunity for local, national, or even global outreach via web technologies. Like these visionaries, I saw grand opportunity for Christians through use of the web. My head filled with ideas about employing web tools for evangelism. When I assumed leadership of the conference, I was hoping to help lead Christians to become masters of web technology, to create a place for themselves in the mainstream media of tomorrow. However, my early desires to conquer the web for Christ were put into a right perspective by the professors at my great-books general education program, the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, and Ken Myers of the Mars Hill Audio Journal.

At Torrey, my professors challenged me to think more deeply, to see through the glamorous digital façade of the web to consider the real-life people behind that façade. Professor John Mark Reynolds succinctly gave reason for this when he said,

“Virtual reality is dependent on plain old reality, so it cannot escape harming or helping the souls on line. Because it’s so dependent on the world of concrete, neon, electricity, and physical bodies, it will never replace them. People are not just minds, but minds in bodies. To really know me (all of me), you have to know my whole self which includes my physical self.”

Effective Christian use of the web cannot merely be gauged on site “hits,” awards, or even revenue. It must help people live more Christian lives on- and off-line. Ken Myers pushed me further in my thinking when he reminded me that technology often shapes one’s interaction with the world. “To a kid with a BB gun, everything becomes a target,” Myers said at GodBlogCon in 2008. Myers cited several media ecologists who remarked on the decline in young people’s ability to read deep, extended texts due to habits cultivated by their fast-paced, keyword-search-based web surfing. Myers challenged me to think about the consequences of shallow reading. If the web teaches us to be shallow readers, what does this mean for Christians’ ability to read the Scriptures well?

If we are to fulfill our calling to love our neighbors, then we ought to think beyond mere mastery of our craft to the lives of those who use our products and how those products shape a person’s interaction with the world and walk with God. In the case of the web, conferences like the Christian Web Conference provide a place where Christian leaders can come together, become aware of the latest technologies, but also be immersed in deeply Christian perspective on their impact on the lives of our neighbors. If Christians are going to be leaders using online tools, we cannot lose sight of the web’s potential; simultaneously we cannot be blinded by the flashiness of the web. A leader’s foremost consideration must be the people for whom the web can be useful and how the technology is shaping their lives.