Isn’t technology wonderful?
I’ll admit I don’t always feel that way. Technology can be a burden, a vengeful master, an out of control addiction that we would be better off without. But this past Sunday I saw a new to me application that brought a new perspective to the church service I was attending.
We were at Freie Christengemeinde in Mullheim Germany. I don’t know much about the church, I’m told it leans to the Pentecostal variety though I have seen nothing to distinguish it from a Baptist or Christian and Missionary Alliance. It has lively musical worship (in German of course but the lyrics on the screen have an English translation for people like me) and, using headphones, I can get an interpretation of the sermon. In five weeks I have picked up a (to me) surprising amount of German, but that is a word here and a word there. I can’t follow a conversation (usually) and definitely not a sermon.
It was a cold fall Sunday, about 10 degrees Celsius and windy, as the service started, with a strong possibility of rain. There were a number of people in the sanctuary dressed in white robes. I’ve been around enough churches to know that meant they were to be baptized that morning.
Before the baptisms there was opportunity for those being baptized to share their stories. There was the Muslim immigrant who had come to realize the truth of Christianity. And the young man, rejected by his family, who lived in a Czech orphanage between the ages of five and 15, so happy to now have a heavenly Father. Moving tales.
However, it was the technological aspects that made the service different from others I have attended. I had wondered how they were going to perform the baptisms, not seeing any place in the sanctuary that was an obvious hiding place for a tub of water. I though maybe they would bring an extra-large bathtub on the platform, or something like that.
Then the pastor announced that the baptisms would take place outside, beside the building where a tub had been set up. Those who wished, he said, could go outside to take part. However, since it was cold, people should feel free to stay inside and watch on the big screen at the front of the church.
I didn’t check to see how many people went outside and how many stayed. I will admit I opted for comfort; if I had known any of the candidates personally I would have been outside.
Those who stayed inside probably had the better deal. Not only were we warm, but we could see and hear well. With the microphone and camera it was just like being there. Plus, the worship team stayed inside and led singing between the baptisms.
It did get me to thinking about how we can use technology as a servant, it doesn’t have to be a master. I don’t mind the November cold; I could have gone outside. There were a number of elderly people in the congregation though who were probably very appreciative that they didn’t have to brave the elements.
There may be those who would be scandalized by such a change in the traditional way of doing things. It made sense to me though.