Some of the commenters from my post yesterday got me thinking about some things that I just briefly want to comment on.
I ended my post with two thoughts:
Two things I think pastors, church leaders need to start wrestling with if they haven’t already:
1) Shift from geographical based ministry to online community/networking based. This does not mean people still won’t gather, but how, where and when they gather will change.
2) Technology is allowing the people/congregants to self-organize, collaborate and participate without having to go through traditional means and hierarchies of the church. I think this will change the role of the pastor drastically from the top-down leader, to more of a facilitator. I think that means we will see less and less traditional roles of pastors, and maybe even less full-time positions, etc.
Here is what I’m thinking. And I’m thinking these things not on any official research I have done, but more on conversations I am having, trends I am seeing, what I am reading, etc.
One of the issues about #2 is that people are concerned about a “consumer” mentality in the Church…more than we already have now. Also, what will be the role of the pastor.
Couple of thoughts. And they are simply thoughts, not completely worked out, but stuff I am hypothesizing and thinking on.
I think the “modularity” of Church that Andrew Jones talked about won’t drive more church consumerism, but will actually reduce it.
Why? Because churches used to be the resource for all information (phone numbers, emails, addresses, theology, Christian education, prayer chains, etc.) and churches controlled the market on the ability to gather and organize. Think Sunday worship, Wed. night Bible studies, etc, etc. People traditionally have relied on the Church as the resource to gather people and dispense information.
Because of this, people would drive miles and miles to attend the church that could attract, gather and dispense the information for them. Often this process has pulled people out of community…driving miles and miles to attend a church that is not rooted in their community where they live, etc.
I think that now people can easily organize, collaborate and dispense information themselves, they will no longer need to rely on the Church as needing to fulfill that role. I think there will be a desire for people to organize and gather in their own communities of locality, rather than feeling the need to drive to churches who used to have to do that for them. I am not saying there will not be church or people won’t go to them. They will, but I think church will look different than it traditionally does now.
In Short: Technology=Ability to Organize and Collaborate=Congregants Taking the Responsibility Into Their Own Hands.
What about the pastor? I think there will always be the need for a pastor, but what is a pastor is my question? Have we possibly gotten away from the Biblical role of the pastor?
In the NT we see the correlation between the shepherd and pastor. I have been told before by some pastors that we are to be ranchers…not shepherds. That has a whole other connotation in my mind.
One commenter said that it’s actually not the pastors who do the shepherding anymore, but the small group leaders, etc. I agree with him. It’s hard to find a pastor who shepherds.
I believe that with the ability to gather, organize and collaborate that technology affords us, it frees up the pastor to do the work of actually shepherding, rather than being the CEO, rancher, etc. I used the word facilitator in yesterday’s post, and what I mean by that is that the Church is beginning to have the ability to organize on their own, which frees the pastor up to facilitate the movement and truly shepherd the people.
In Short: Technology=Ability to Organize and Collaborate=Congregants Taking the Responsibility Into Their Own Hands=Pastor Can Truly Be a Shepherd.
Of course my own theology and praxis is shining through there, some of which you may agree with, and some which you may not agree with.
But for any of this to take place (which I think is a great thing for the Church), churches, pastors and ministry leaders are going to have to let go of the “power” they have traditionally held, and instead be a church and people that walk humbly amongst the people they are there to serve. Even questioning their roles as pastors in the Church.
In closing, I’m aware that some traditions/denominations already seem to embody this theology and praxis. I wonder if Wess Daniels can shed some light on these thoughts in light of the Quaker tradition that he is a part of.
If you are wondering what to read on some of these issues, here are a few suggestions. There are a lot more, but here are some that I have found helpful and challenging. Please add to this list and let me know what you are reading that has been helpful in thinking about the issues of technology in redefining the role of pastors and the Church, especially as it relates to gathering, organizing, collaborating, etc.
Check Them Out
The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging and Podcasting for Christ, edited by John Mark Reynolds and Roger Overton
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff