What Would Jesus Blog?

Archive for April, 2009

Church & Technology

by on Apr.16, 2009, under Uncategorized

I’m currently looking for a job (if anyone needs a techie with an MA, within range of Manchester, get in touch!). It’s caused me to take a good look at what I’m good at, what I want to do, what I think God wants me to do, and where God appears to be working. Not much then!

Looking around the Christian jobs scene, a lot of places seem to want youth workers. I’m not a youth worker. A lot seem to want lay workers, a now-deprecated term that encompasses a whole range of ministries but mostly seem to involve families, vulnerable people, Fresh Expressions, that kind of thing. I think I could do that, I think I’d enjoy it and be good at it, but I don’t feel called to it. Doing this MA at Cliff has taught me loads about where the future of the church lies, and has changed the way I approach church forever, but it’s also taught me that being a techie is a good thing and that actually, it’s where my heart has always been. After my BSc I was disillusioned with IT (thank you Manchester School of Computer Science), but being at Cliff has brought my worlds together. I’m a rare breed of Christian techie – I’m a qualified one! I find myself frustrated at the way churches abuse technology – they either ignore it or elevate it to the position of second saviour, rather than embracing it cautiously as they should.

We live in a world shaped by technology, and that’s both a fantastic thing and a terrible thing. The same technology that brings people together across huge distances lends itself to shallow relationships and approximations of community. The way in which we understand our place in the world is changing – where we’re going isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that any upheaval like this can be hard to adapt to. The projector at the front of the church isn’t going to bring the kids flooding in – likewise the church ignores Facebook at its peril.

I live in a world of God and technology – I know both, and I love both. That’s where my future lies. That’s what God’s set me up for. That’s where I’m going. I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t matter if I pay my way working in IT or in the church – I can do God’s work in either, and I’m happy to go with the flow (of the Holy Spirit, I hasten to add!). Exactly where God’s taking me, only He knows – but I guess I’ve just got to trust him. I want to work with churches, to show them how they can use technology to serve the world, to disciple their flocks, to reach out to others and to serve God more faithfully. For now I do that in my spare time, in the future I’d like to see it be a job but maybe that’s not where I’m best placed. Maybe those who need me most can’t pay for me, and those who would pay wouldn’t understand. All in God’s hands. All in God’s hands.

I also realised that I’m terrifically good at nothing in particular. I’ve looked at a few jobs and I tick all the boxes except the specialism of that particular job. I work well in any position in a team, I’ve got great IT skills, I can organise stuff, I can work with external partners, all that kind of stuff….but not in any particular context. Meh, I’ll get there!

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Just Fair Laughs

by on Apr.10, 2009, under Uncategorized

My first night back in Kendal for Easter and I went down to Bamber Bridge with a friend and a few of his family to a Methodist-run regular comedy night called Just Fair Laughs. It was a great evening – my first beer in a long time, good company, a fantastic laugh and plenty to discuss.

We didn’t get a chance to thrash it out properly, but we did start a discussion that relates to my dissertation work – I’ll post something about it over on my dissertation blog soon. The question was – is Just Fair Laughs church? There were no hymns or a sermon and there was beer so obviously it wasn’t going to be anything like traditional church, so there was hope for it. People were meeting and interacting so there was community happening all around us – and a church is a community that’s part of God’s wider community. I argued that church needed to be intentional – it needed to set out to be church, with everything that means – teaching, worship, fellowship, everything, rather than set out to be a comedy night. My friend argued that intentionality in that sense meant institutionalisation, and that church was wherever two or three gathered together. Of course, he’s right – but so am I.

The difference comes down to semantics, mostly – but that’s not a bad thing and it’s helped to clear things up in my mind. To state the obvious, ‘church’ isn’t where you go or what you do for an hour on Sunday, it’s all gathering with others in the name of Christ (Matt 18:20). So from that point of view, yes, Just Fair Laughs is church. But also, church is more than just two or three gathering – it’s two or three supporting each other, encouraging each other, fellowshipping, teaching, serving each other. And by that definition, Just Fair Laughs neither tries to be nor is church. I came to the conclusion that JFL is part of church, and is a ministry. On its own, it’s not enough to disciple people, but it’s a way in which the church serves, befriends and becomes part of the community. And that’s worth every penny.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. I’m told that the organiser, who is a Methodist minister, had journeyed with loads of people through tough times who he’d never have met if it wasn’t for JFL and that people appreciate a clean comedy night. Looking around I saw groups getting to know each other and I felt that if I’d been there on my own, I’d have left with a couple of new friends. Maybe no-one’s come to faith through it, maybe no-one will. But when the church is seen as the overbearing morality police, it’s good to know that it’s working where it’s meant to be – at a grassroots level, making people laugh, bringing joy to people’s lives and being there with them when they need it. As the world’s becoming more and more about me and I, it’s up to the church to show that it’s about us. And have a laugh while we’re at it!

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Scooters…

by on Apr.04, 2009, under Uncategorized

After a woman was found five miles away from her home after drifting off at the controls of a mobility scooter, going so fast that her husband couldn’t run after her (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/7981904.stm), I have to ask…why do we put old people in control of such fast bits of kit? I completely accept that they are important for personal mobility and they’re great for that, but is there really any need for them to go up to 15mph, and why aren’t there safety cut-outs like there are on any potentially lethal things I get to control (cars excepted…)? Something as simple as a bite switch would have got her to church on time, saved the country hours of police time and avoided her husband distress (that with his triple bypass probably shortened his life a few months…)

Meh. Young people aren’t the menace to today’s society!

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BT

by on Apr.02, 2009, under Uncategorized

I’m still trying to work out if I like BT. They messed up our first new install by reactivating a line so decrepit that they couldn’t run DSL over it so I phoned up and after half an hour of negotiating they agreed to re-install it for me. Then I tried to add broadband to the order and they told me that I’d have to wait until it was installed, despite the first sales rep I talked to assuring me that I could have the whole lot installed in one go if I wanted it. Strange people.

Either way, when this line gets installed and set up we’ll be able to do some serious network debugging. Either the old router was lying to us about our 6 meg line speed or we’ve got gremlins. Either’s equally possible!

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