Technology shapes a lot of my daily life. What do I have scheduled? Who will I meet? What do I need to get caught up on, and what do I need to get ahead of? For better or worse, some form of technology has found its way into the regular patterns of my life.
As a software product manager, a large part of my role is to find and define meaningful ways that technology can enrich life. There are a lot of exciting spaces that have made amazing improvements in the last few years – spaces that are positioned to change a lot of our current-day norms.
Some changes are positive in more obvious ways – “machine learning” has evolved to the point that robots can diagnose various diseases better than doctors, from skin cancer to heart arrhythmias. Some changes are more ambiguous in its impact, especially as it relates to employment. Going to the local Silvercity, I saw one single employee manage the entire ticket counter, with the aid of ~10 self-serve machines. It’s a similar picture at every McDonald’s, and soon every grocery store.
Given the pace of change in technology, it’s been interesting to see how minimally the church has been impacted. It’s now easier to find ten potential life-partners with a swipe than to find a small-group that we’re comfortable attending (Tinder for small groups, let’s make it happen). Amazon, who has 3x more “Amazon Prime” customers than Canada has citizens (fact check me!) knows exactly which customers left their cart, with what items, at what time, and nudges the user to re-engage at exactly the right interval. When someone misses small-group or Sunday service, what do we have in place?
It’s easy to disregard and explain this away – churches don’t have the same budget, talent or need. If we boil it back down to “love God, love each other”, everything else is just a distraction. Relationships aren’t about tools and technology, it’s about authentic connection between us and God, and between one another.
Those are all completely valid explanations. If we don’t do anything else except love God and love each other, I think we’ve lived well. However, my Bible app has completely changed how well and how frequently I read God’s word. Having a worship Spotify playlist has been a lifeline at work, as well as a platform to introduce co-workers to church. In the same way that the printing press forever changed our relationship with the Bible, I think there are equally real and positive ways that today’s technology can change our faith.
Software developers are one of the fastest growing careers in both the US and Canada. In a very near future, there will be a whole new generation specifically equipped to build technological solutions – not just a website and some emails, but solutions that touch-down into real life. Are we prepared to engage in that discussion? When this generation is hungry to serve, will we know where to point them?
Probably not – and that’s okay. Finding meaningful applications for technology can be a difficult and complex task (just ask any blockchain enthusiast out there). I certainly don’t have any answers, but this seems like a conversation worth having and perhaps a topic worth praying through.
Curious what your thoughts are! Drop a comment to keep my brain juices going 🙂