The Church at Work in a Digital Era

Do you "tweet" on Twitter or have Facebook friends? Are you blogging and posting? Are you part of the brave new world of social media?

Ten years ago no one would have understood those terms. Facebook didn't even exist until 2004, yet today it boasts more than 500 million users— more than the population of Canada and the United States combined. In just a few short years, Facebook and other social networks have profoundly changed the way we think and interact.

Not so long ago most folks my age (early 60s) saw the networking phenomenon as something limited to young people. We thought it was a novelty—a toy for children in an electronic age. But now I and a huge number of my contemporaries have created our own Facebook pages.

Since then we've discovered a new way to connect. Many of my Facebook friends are cousins with whom I had no contact for years. Others are pastors and church leaders from around the world. My children post recent pictures of my grandchildren. Even my mother can now see the latest pictures of her great-grandchildren.

Technology is advancing so fast that it's nearly impossible to keep up. Just when we think we have it figured out, someone develops a new and better way to connect and share. This constantly changing reality presents us with both opportunities and challenges.

On the one hand, we're able to connect in ways we never thought possible. With a simple click of the mouse, we can send messages, photos, and video clips. We no longer have to wait for the annual Christmas card or letter to know what's happening in the lives of family and friends. We don't have to wait for the morning paper or the evening news to find out what's happening around the world.

On the other hand, such instant communication sometimes seems cold and distant. What were once deep conversations have been reduced to sound bites and snippets. While I love seeing video clips of my grandchildren, they are a poor replacement for real hugs and kisses.

The church is also aware of the challenges and opportunities offered by these new technologies. So how do we engage them? As you will discover on these pages of Church at Work, the Christian Reformed Church is finding new and powerful ways to proclaim the gospel using technology. Churches are connecting with other churches on The Network (check it out at www.crcna.org/network). Pastors are engaging each other with new and creative ideas. Agency websites are providing easily accessible resources on a multitude of topics for our use.

Visit the CRC's home page at www.crcna.org, the "front door" to the CRC's online presence. You'll find many ways to connect with each of our agencies and offices. You can see and hear the latest news of what's happening in your denomination. You can find information on individual CRC congregations as well as resources such as the Agenda for Synod and Acts of Synod. This month you'll also find a redesigned Banner website at www.thebanner.org that offers more interactivity and additional content.

I am pleased with the work that our staff has done in providing the best possible resources for you and your church. I hope you take the time to visit, discover, and join our network of information!

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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