As technology becomes an increasingly integral part of our lives, it's no surprise that churches and ministries are exploring how to use it to enhance their outreach and discipleship efforts. But as we consider how to do this effectively, it's important to ask ourselves: what values should underpin these efforts?
Many of the most popular tech platforms and apps today are designed to maximize profit for their owners and investors. This means they prioritize features and functionality that will attract the most profitable segments of the market, often at the expense of those on the margins.
But for the church, the Kingdom of God is meant to be a place of upside-down values. In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus teaches that the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers are blessed. These are not the characteristics that would typically be prioritized in a tech startup seeking to maximize its return on investment.
When we consider how to use technology in the context of the church, we need to be mindful of how our choices might exclude or disadvantage those who are already on the margins of society. For example, a platform that is optimized for stock market returns may not be accessible to those who cannot afford the latest devices or high-speed internet connections. It may prioritize features that are irrelevant or even harmful to those who are struggling with poverty, illness, or disability.
So, what's the alternative? I believe that the church has an opportunity and a responsibility to develop its own technology platforms, designed with the values of the Kingdom of God in mind. This means prioritizing features and functionality that will help us reach and serve those on the margins, even if it means sacrificing short-term profitability or market share.
For example, imagine a discipleship app that is optimized for those who have limited access to traditional resources like books or in-person classes. This app might include features like audio and video content in multiple languages, low-bandwidth options for users with limited internet connections, and interactive tools for reflection and application. It could also be designed with the needs of those with disabilities in mind, with features like closed captioning and text-to-speech functionality.
This kind of app might not be the most profitable or widely-used platform on the market, but it would be serving a vital need for those who might otherwise be left behind. It would embody the values of the Kingdom of God by prioritizing the needs of the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers.
Of course, developing our own technology platforms is not without its challenges. It requires resources and expertise that many churches and ministries may not have access to. But I believe that the rewards of taking this approach far outweigh the risks. By developing our own platforms, we can ensure that our technology is aligned with our values and our mission. We can create spaces online that truly reflect the upside-down values of the Kingdom of God. And we can reach those on the margins who may have been overlooked or excluded by the profit-driven models of the tech industry.
In short, if we want to use technology in the service of the Kingdom of God, we need to be intentional about the values that underpin it. We need to prioritize those on the margins and seek to embody the values of Jesus in everything we do. By developing our own technology platforms, we can do just that.
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