Even though it feels like the digital age has been with us for a long time, we're really caught in the opening lines of a story whose ending none of us can predict.
In that ambiguity, technology myths abound—and church leaders rarely escape unscathed.
While it’s unlikely that a single individual or entire church, for that matter, will hold all of these misconceptions, you might find one or two that resonate. Here are five common myths we hear and the answers you need to debunk them:
1. Technology costs nothing
With the advent of open source tech, more and more tools are made available at no cost—or virtually no cost—to the end user. There are hundreds of great, and often free, hacks for church admins that help budget strapped leaders accomplish more with less. It’s no wonder we start believing that technology costs nothing.
Not all technology is, or even should be, free, however. We mistakingly assume that because there’s no visible overhead, technology doesn’t cost anything, either to make or to use.
What’s left unseen is the manpower and time that went into development, the hours spent debugging and testing, the need for on-going service and support, updates and new features.
Just because you pay for something doesn’t guarantee a robust technology or carry more inherent value or functionality.
But there’s truth in the old adage, you get what you pay for.
While most organizational budgets are tight and especially so in a church context, investing in good technology not only requires time and education, but often financial backing too.
2. Technology will solve all of our problems
Wish as we might, technology can’t solve all our problems. Once we overcome the hurdle of cost and time, our natural inclinations are to start viewing technology as a antidote to our troubles. It’d be easier if we could automate away our inconveniences so we could spend more time focusing on ministry instead of cumbersome administrative tasks.
While technology pieces apart some of the tightest tangles, there are other problems technology can’t touch—and we shouldn’t expect it.
It’s important to hold a right view of our technology and the intention with which and for which it was built. With right expectations, we can curb disappointment when the new sound system doesn’t transform our off-key worship leaders into pitch perfect Hillsong replicas or when a giving platform doesn’t erase poor financial management.
On the other side of things, we need to be careful not to fall into the mimicry of “It’s not a cure-all, so it won’t cure any.”
Understanding which problems technologies are meant to address helps us realize that while it might not cure all, it does cure some.
3. Technology will be our problem
Maybe? This one we won’t outrightly debunk or unravel, because technology has the potential to be our problem, if we idolize it and couple it with the previous myth. Technology could become problematic—it could tear apart relationships, it could weaken communities. Or it could build relationships and strengthen communities.
Our use of technology will be a better indicator of its impact than the technology alone. We imbue the vehicle of value with value itself if we start believing technology will be our problem, rather than the way we choose to use it.
4. All technologies are created equal
On the face of it, many technologies appear to be the same. Some have sleeker interfaces, others an additional feature or two. But, for the most part, they basically accomplish the same task, address the same pain point.
The reality, however, is that technologies, while they may seem to solve the same problem, do so by drastically different means and some at greater cost to support when things go wrong or user experience when they go right.
It is crucial that you learn which questions to ask to find those subtle, but significant differences.
5. “If you build it, they will come”
Many of us incorrectly assume that once we make the investment to research and purchase new technology, our churches will immediately jump on board and be just as gung-ho to fold it into their routines as the leadership that made the initial decision. Buy it and they’ll use it!
Truisms are our favorite so here’s one you’ll probably finish before you make it to the end of the sentence: you can lead a horse to water…but you can’t make him drink it.
Just because you make up your mind to implement a new technology at your church doesn’t mean others will adopt it. You have to take the time to develop a rollout plan and message the way you talk about it.
Technology is incredible. With the right perspective, it helps us do our jobs better, operate our churches more efficiently, and preach the Gospel with greater potency.
Jesus’ ministry revolutionized the world. He routinely overturned paradigms established by men to control men and innovated as is the Father’s heart. Our God is a working, entrepreneurial God, Who delights in new creation.