Feb 2, 2011

Technology Required for Worship

There's plenty of ink and pixels spilled to discuss how we should "do worship" in the church. One can tune in to some of the megachurches that broadcast their work to see what technology they use. Here's an example - an iBand.

I confess my church worship experience is very limited, so I don't know if that is extreme or mainstream. In thinking about technology in our current church, we use instruments, some fluorescent lights, an audio system, various printed pages (a bulletin, a hymnal, etc.), chairs, and probably other things I'm leaving out.

However, not everywhere in the world has these things, nor have they always had some of these ( like an audio system). So what is the very basic technology required to have church? I would include only three things:
  • Bread making
  • Wine making
  • Some vessel for holding water
  • Some means of storing and reading text
As best I can tell, that covers everything required. The church administers the sacrements, so we need bread, wine, and some thing to hold water. We could probably even leave out the water vessel if the church is close enough to some body of water or a spring. Finally, some means for storing and retrieving the text of the Bible is necessary for worship. We don't need anything else to pray, sing, read scripture, administer sacrements, preach, or pronounce benedictions.

I don't think that all technology above and beyond this is bad, but this should make us consider what is really essential and central to worship.

What do you think - did I leave any technology out?


  1. Interesting question. Also interesting that you find the physical embodiment of the sacraments a necessity for church. This introduces differences for different sects of Christianity which practice more, less, or different sacraments. Ditto with differing doctrinal interpretations of the symbology vs. physicality of the acts themselves.

    Thus, in turn, the technology available could affect the theology used. Which might in turn have interesting possibilities in the emerging world of ubiquitous computing.

    Though in some ways you could say we already see that. (e.g. "contemporary" vs. "traditional" services, or shape notes vs. choir and organ)

  2. Yes, I do find the physical embodiment of the sacraments a necessity. I do not believe a virutal sacrament is consistent with Christ's command to "eat" and "drink" and His example of physically gathering together. I also appeal to the vast majority of church history - no matter what the interpretation of what's happening, people are consuming bread and wine.

    I realize there have been differences over some distributed form of the Lord's supper (e.g., an elder or deacon taking the elements to shut-ins, and whether or not we can do that). But I don't think that's what you're getting at.

    And yes, I'm going on the two sacrament model (baptism & Lord's supper). I realize other Christian strands my include other things necessary. For example, some physical barrier enabling privacy for a priest to hear confession. I can see that, but I would disagree with the theology in that case, as that is the root of the technology

    I suppose I would sum up by saying I hope that the theology guides how the technology is designed and used. And that we have good theology.