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Written by: Unknown    Posted on: 04/10/2003

Category: Ministries

Source: CCN

COLUMN: Trend Watch

TECHNO-CHURCH Three areas of ministry that technology is transforming.

The winds of technology are blowing through various ministries of the church:

Strategic planning. Randy Frazee, pastor of Pantego Bible Church in Arlington, Texas, and Tom Wilson (who, according to Frazee, "started off as church administrator, but has become like our chief information officer") are creating a computer program called Church Think, a ministry "flight simulator." It allows leaders to "put in several different variables and see how they play out ... over a number of years, to see if that accelerates or decelerates your growth ... and spiritual development."

Based on the systemic modeling techniques discussed in Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline, Church Think focuses on what Wilson and  Frazee call "the five Fs:" flows, funds, facilities, formation, and foundation. Most of us understand funds and facilities, but what of the other Fs? Wilson explains the other Fs stand for "people Flows or head count, Formation--the scriptural formation of the church, and the Foundational core group--the leaders." The model allows leaders to see how differing levels of those elements impact a church's development.

The software should be out soon. For information, write Pantego Bible Church, 2203 W. Park Row, Arlington, Texas 76013 or e-mail: TWilson421@aol.com.

Visitor follow-up. Technology allows pastors to gather and see patterns in statistics in a way sometimes not possible with manual methods. Dan Molloy, information systems director for Willow Creek Association, recently discovered something critical about visitors to Willow Creek's senior high ministry. "If someone came three times, he or she stayed. This is the kind of stuff we learn by tracking--when they came, who they came with, and how many times they came."

Teaching. The American Bible Society has produced a new method of Bible study that reaches young people using CD-rom and music videos. The software presents the text under study in different ways--for example, an 'MTV' version and a rap version. Three Bible studies are available: Out of the Tombs, a dramatic music video based on Mark 5:1-20; A Father and Two Sons, based on the parable of the Prodigal Son, available on CD-rom and video; and The Visit, based on Luke 1:39-56, available on CD-rom and music video. For information, call 212-408-1499.

--BILL GARTNER (gart@aol.com) Chicago, Illinois

What leaders are saying about technology

"To help people come to terms with the need to put the gospel into electronic form, I use a metaphor Jesus gave us. Remember the woman at the well? She said 'I want some water.' And Jesus said, 'I'm going to give you water from a well that never runs dry. I'm going to give you the living water.' So the metaphor that Jesus used for the Gospel is living water.

"Water is fluid. Water is a liquid. You cannot find a container that water won't fill. The key is: Never mess with the water. Don't mix it, don't dilute it, trust the water as it is. But our job is to put the gospel water into containers that people can pick up." --Leonard Sweet Drew University Theological School Madison, New Jersey

"Technology can serve the church, but it can never be the tail that wags the dog. Frankly, I don't see that as a real danger. For most churches, our cutting edge is a large-screen video projector. While the World Wide Web is being developed, we're still figuring out how to use personal computers for newsletters and basic bookkeeping. The church is a good ten years behind the times.

"The gap must be reduced, for countless others, with decisively non-Christian agendas, are using the latest technology to court the hearts and minds of our generation." --James Emery White Mecklenburg Community Church Charlotte, North Carolina

Copyright (c) 1996 Christianity Today, Inc./LEADERSHIP Journal


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