Thinking of Going Virtual at Snow Hill

That’s right. I think we will exchange the embodied life for the virtual life. After all it is more important to say the right things than actually do them. And, if we can get more people to see me, then you can be sure we will have “reached” more people with the Gospel.

Minding my own business yesterday my friend David sends me a chat message, “Did you see this?” I had not. And, had David not pointed it out to me, you can be sure the yard would have been mowed sooner! But, alas, this whole dust-up has left me thinking.

The Incarnation was a waste of time. I know. I know. That is hyperbole. But, think about it. Enamored as we are with technology what the whole holographic-beam-me-around-the-world-Scotty thing does is obscure the message. I remember talking to a friend who no longer attends our church. He opted for the multi-site, beam-me-around-the-US version of church. One of the things he noted was how cool the videos were and how tight the band. I should have taken the cue nearly ten years ago. What will really capture people is spending money, time, and energy on adopting the newest technology all in the name of reaching people.

Some astute reader will contend this to be something of a false dichotomy. Or in the words of D.A. Carson, “[Blank] all false antithesis.” It will no doubt be argued that Paul used all means to reach people with the Good News. That is right, while he did do a good bit of writing, he was always on his way to be “in the flesh” with people. It is funny, by the way, that some of the most conservative among us who apply an always literal hermeneutic to Scripture justify the adoption of these technologies as following the “trajectory” of Paul’s intent. But, these same conservative folk will not follow “all of Paul’s trajectories” in the name of that same literalism. I digress.

McLuhan is often quoted as saying, “The medium is the message.” And, if he is correct, the message the holographic-beam-me-around-the-world-Scotty version of church is doing is declaring, “The Church Discovered Technology!” And, that is the Good News? “We are no longer Luddites!,” we exclaim. Except, maybe we still are. Maybe we still have more in common with those in Jesus’ day who seemed more concerned with Jesus being in the wrong place than Jesus being with those found in the wrong place. Which begs the question as to what is the wrong place? And, how would you get your hologram in there anyway. Oh the rabbits to chase …

Had it been enough to “send word” rather than “be the Word,” you can rest assured God would have published more than the Scriptures. But, the writer of Hebrews connects the signs and signifiers of God – namely the people known as the prophets – with the ultimate Sign and Signifier of the Triune God, named Jesus. When he does, he sidesteps human technology in any age and instead contends the real Good News shows up in the flesh. Not a proof text. Instead, a living breathing human text – Jesus, the Christ. He bears the Inscription. And Inscribed by God and being very God gives us the genealogy of the way to relationships bearing fruit resulting in a “new humanity” more attentive to forgiving than accounting.

However, I am thinking we need to chuck that Good News of a real way, an embodied way, to live in love toward God and neighbor. Instead we ought to fit everyone with their own holographic technology. No longer worry about getting up to share life and faith in a small group around the Scriptures or stand to sing with the gathered people of God. No, just program your hologram. We preacher and pastor types could reap the whirlwind. Those of us who are exceptionally good at it will certainly be beamed far and wide. And are. You know we can command not only the expenditures for the technology but since we are good at being good holograms we might as be paid handsomely for it. And, many are.

The money for this technology multiplied by those who (will) use it will inevitably call into question  what we could possibly mean by stewardship and attending to the needs of the poor. But hey, you can bet more poor will be able to see us. That is the problem with the over-emphasis upon preaching at the expense of living out an embodied faith. You end up justifying any means to get the “preached word” out. Is that Amos I hear ringing in my ears?

I wonder though. What will happen when those who really long for an embodied way of being truly human decide to pay their beam-me-around-the-world-Scotty pastors in holographic money? I bet those pastors will re-think their “theology” then?

Yes, what a snarky piece. But, dear reader, I hope you will see it is this kind of ill-conceived adoption of whatever pragmatic means we can find to “reach” more people that, in fact, gives those whom we hope to reach more fodder to question the sincerity of our convictions that the real person, Jesus, gave anything for us, much less his life.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.