I Love Technology. But Not As Much As You, You See. But I Still Love Technology

*special thanks to Pierced & Tattooed Kristen for pointing this one out*

So, our new President goes to his office for the first time yesterday. Keep in mind that this is the president who ran a campaign that took full advantage of technology (and got the young involved because of it) and is widely known for his liberal (*snicker*) use of a Blackberry.

A Washington Post article points out that the new staff discovered that the White House is woefully behind regarding technology. A snippet:

“One member of the White House new-media team came to work on Tuesday, right after the swearing-in ceremony, only to discover that it was impossible to know which programs could be updated, or even which computers could be used for which purposes. The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software.”

Okay. Here’s what went off in my brain when I read the article.

I’ve discovered that people making decisions for many organizations have little idea of the reality that technology and the use of it is important. Even in the well-read book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins he made comments like these:

“Good-to-great organizations avoid technology fads and bandwagons, yet they become pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies.”

And…

“The good-to-great companies used technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. None of the good-to-great companies began their transformations with pioneering technology, yet they all became pioneers in the application of technology once they grasped how it fit with their three circles and after they hit breakthrough.”

So, what he’s saying is that you don’t use technology just to use technology. But once you figure out how existing technology can enhance what you’re already doing well, you become aggressive in the use of that technology. Interestingly, what I’ve found is that not only is our White House deficient (which I’d expect a government agency to be as they’re notorious for being, well, not great) but many churches ho-hum the use of technology, too.

See, the people that make decisions in churches tend to be those who’ve shown over longer periods of time they’re qualified to serve. Hence, they tend to be more mature. Older. Wiser. But, they also tend to view technology as a necessary reality. No need to be aggressive in the use of it, just do enough to avoid “being left behind.” I mean, most everyone knows a church needs a web page with service times & location & ministries offered & sermons & maybe even doctrinal positions or staff. Nobody argues that kind of stuff. It keeps up with the Jonses.

But, they often don’t realize that it’s not just about bells & whistles. I’ve said this before, but the older generation views the Internet as a way to get information. The younger generation views it as an enhancement to their personal relationships (yes, I disagree with those who claim it replaces their personal relationships).

So, for example, we figure we’ve done our job by having a basic web site with all the aforementioned categories. And, my church is working to improve that. And many think this is fine.

This is where being aggressive with technology can help. I’ve heard from some younger-demographic church leaders that they’re finding that nearly 75% of first-time visitors have been to the website, checked out the church and listened to at least 1 sermon. So, before they hit the door, they’ve already made judgments about the church based on what they’ve discovered. They don’t just show up for a visit to get a feel for the place. They’ve already made judgments about the church from their on-line presentation of themselves. In other words, the web page has replaced the “first time visitor.”

I mean, you can tell a lot about a church that has posted lots of data…and a lot about a church that has an open forum chat room discussion with the pastor on Monday nights about the previous day’s sermon. You can tell a lot about a church that has photos of the youth retreat…and a lot about a church that has video archives of the Sunday School class discussion. You can tell a lot about a church that has maps & times…and a lot about a church that will send a text message to your mobile phone inviting those interested to a discussion session about Sunday’s upcoming sermon at a local restaurant.

See the difference?

They’re both good and helpful, but one enhances community and one gives information.

Some churches have it where you can give on-line. Others have RSS feeds of blogs to your iPhone. Others have forums to discuss sermons or where Sunday School classes can meet on-line to talk about the next series they want to study or whatever else they want to discuss. Facebook & other social networking sites allow for churches to enhance relationships with a simple feature like “birthday updates” or posting up-to-the-minute status updates. I could go on, but you get the point.

What went on at the White House yesterday only highlights the reality that technology is viewed differently by the young. We ignore it at our peril.

And, yes. I wrote this on a Mac. And if I can get anything else with an “i” in front of it, I likely will. You should, too. If it’s good enough for the President…

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