New Media, Same Message

Do you ever feel like you’ve been left behind? Not in the way made popular by the book series of a few years ago, but left behind by 21st-century technology?

On a recent trip I had a stopover at the Denver airport. Because my flight had been delayed, I sat in the waiting area checking e-mail, returning phone calls, and browsing the Internet. In a matter of seconds, I was able to discover the overnight location of our Sea to Sea cyclists and check out their route for the following day.

I was not alone. Sitting near me were people listening to iPods, talking on cell phones, reading e-mail, checking flight schedules on laptops. I even saw one person reading a book.

With the exception of the last activity, you wouldn’t have seen people doing any of those things 25 years ago. We live in a whirlwind of technological change that has impacted not only what we do but how we live our lives.

The Christian Reformed Church is using new technologies both to serve our members and to advance the message of the gospel. The CRC’s website (www.crcna.org) has thousands of pages of information about our denomination and its ministries.

You can find out what Phil and Christa Grabowski are doing on behalf of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in Malawi and Mozambique. Another click of the mouse and you can learn why The Back to God Hour changed its name to Back to God Ministries International.  

You can watch Synod 2008 worship, deliberate, and make decisions. Or, if you prefer, you can read back issues of The Banner, including your favorite columns such as the late Rev. Jacob Eppinga’s “Of Cabbages and Kings.” And you can do it all without ever leaving your desk—or the airport.

Our use of electronic media and the accompanying technology is not limited to websites. Synodically appointed study committees can now deliver draft reports to churches and pastors quickly and inexpensively. The Faith Formation Committee, the Form of Subscription Revision Committee, and the Contemporary Testimony Revision Committee all used e-mail to gather input from members of the church around the world. We can contact more than a thousand churches and thousands of pastors, clerks, treasurers, church secretaries, and others without licking a single postage stamp or sealing an envelope.

At the same time, these advances are not without their pitfalls. Sorting through more than a hundred e-mail messages each day takes time and energy, especially as the number of spam or junk messages seems to grow exponentially. Even as opportunities for communication increase, personal interaction seems to decrease. We need to take time for real conversation in the midst of communication overload.  

Yes, technology has changed and it has changed us. We may dislike it, bemoan it, even fight it; or we may enjoy it, celebrate it, and adopt it—but the change is here. The good news is that we now have more opportunities to proclaim the good news of Christ in more ways than ever before. We can use these new tools to bring a message that will transform the world.

My grandparents would be amazed by what we take for granted, and I am certain that the media and methods used by my grandchildren will be different than what we use today. What will not change is God’s grace. What cannot change is our commitment to proclaim that grace around the world.  

As part of Christ’s church, we are committed to using every tool, every technology available, to proclaim the gospel worldwide.

About the Author

Jerry Dykstra served as the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America from 2006-2011.
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