At the start of the year, it's natural to want to do some planning, but planning can be both a positive and a negative thing. It's always challenging as I was reminded when several churches have asked how to create a communication plan for the next five to seven years. Each of them has mentioned that new technology can be costly and they want to be prepared, in their budgeting and for training. Though I admire their desire to be good stewards, planning ahead for five years in church communications, especially when it involves trying to figure out technology needs, is futile.
Could you have envisioned your communication world today five years ago?
Think about it. Five years ago, could you:
- Have imagined or planned for the iPhone and iPad?
- Known texting would be a major way your youth group would communicate and your youth pastor would need a high-end mobile phone?
- Have known that skill with Facebook would be useful, if not essential, when you hire a church secretary?
- Imagined that Tweeting would be a skill your senior Pastor might want to learn? Even known the meaning of Tweeting or that social media in any form would be able to overturn governments and raise millions for charity?
Go back a bit from that
Many of you started in ministry before the computer was invented. When you finally figured out the computer, did you ever dream of the internet? Seven years ago, did a website, with or without streaming video, seem essential for your church? Had you heard of a blog? I smile to think how outdated all these terms may sound and what new tools we will be using when some of you read this.
Our human nature always wants certainty
We want to know what to expect, what we will have to learn, what things will cost. In addition to being impossible to project and predict technology changes, methods, and costs on a practical level in today's ever-evolving communication world, there is another thing to consider.
Because we don't know the future in technology, in this area, as in every other area, we need to stay close to the Lord. We need to walk daily with him. we need to listen to his voice. We need to bring all our technology plans and practices before him and measure their value by the values of his Word.
The one thing we need to do is to plan on being intentional in this area. We need to plan to spend time with our Lord. We need to make it a priority to grow in our relationship to the Lord.
Sometimes, sadly there is a disconnect between the perceived demands of technology and the demands of godly living and trusting Jesus. It's almost as if some church communicators, who are involved in communications technology, act as if Jesus isn't smart enough to help us in this area,though they would never say it out-loud. Asking for daily bread is OK with spiritual stuff, but not with technology, is how some seem to manage their communications program.
Plan wisely; listen carefully
We forget the gentle carpenter from Nazareth is also the creator of quantum mechanics. He is the one who created the earth and stars and put silicon in the earth long before it was used for a computer chip. He is Alpha and Omega and when all our mobile devices have turned to dust, he is the one with whom we communicate through all eternity.
The wisest planning we can do every day, five to seven years from now, and always is to plan to grow in our knowledge of Jesus, his Word, our time in prayer, and our ability to hear his voice. If we listen to Jesus, he will guide will guide us not only in our technology planning and purchases, but will help us use our ever-changing tools for our good and his glory.