Cyberchurch is the celebration of God’s glory via today’s high-tech gadgetry; and through it our shouts of praise can literally reach to high heaven –– in cyberspace. To boot, the technological church can be the bridge over the digital divide –– saving many a soul from plunging below into the abyss of decadence, confusion, disorientation and despair.
And, Reverend John Rogers would have it so in the Anglican Church, if only its hierarchy would move onto the information and communication technology platform with him as a support to the church’s sessions of prayer and praise and, equally, to its evangelical work. Most notable, as the St Luke’s priest pointed out, the church, by the modern technologies, could reach out to those people unable to attend services for one plausible reason or another.
Surely, with simple video streaming, the elderly too weak to travel and the physically challenged shut-ins could once again be in touch with their very own flock and shepherd.
Reverend Rogers’ quite sensible suggestion at the recent Annual Diocesan Service at the packed Wildey Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex ought to have resonated with the many Anglicans attending, whose familiarity with the office table computer, laptop, tablet and the seemingly ubiquitous smartphone could hardly be denied. We would wager that the majority would already have immersed themselves in the benefits and joys of the Digital Age in one form or another.
And why not, when we are constantly being reminded that this is the way to go?
One other notable factor, of course, is that the digital platform in our houses of worship is likely to appeal to the young cyberminds among us. It is not unnoticed that our traditional church pews have required for some time being filled with considerable more youths. With cyberpreaching and praising, vacant pews may not necessarily mean empty young souls –– but instead a bonding of the ecclesial congregation and the cyberworshippers.
Considerately, we must be mindful though of not putting off the church’s old guard, who would have contributed much in their younger days, and still do, to what vibrancy their house of worship continues to boast –– not even for the sake of recruiting the youth. After all these very youngsters may be pushed away by any apparent mistreatment of their elders. A cyberchurch must not become an uncaring one for the technologically challenged.
We accept that digital and cyberservices are one sure step to take, lest the church, a community entity, is left lagging. But the technolgies must be used to the benefit of the old and the young – for spiritual elevation as for comfort and enjoyment – in this world of connectivity that surrounds us.
But we stress care and constraint must be the watchwords.
It isn’t every new set of wares thrown at us by the techie innovators and marketers that the church will need to blindly gobble up to match every commercial and personally private upgrade. These touted more advanced technologies may not live up to their promotional reputations where the unique intervention of the old analytical human mind and the spirit of compassion and true Christian virtues are missing.
Already we have witnessed elements of the younger generation being adept at computer games and social media –– especially Facebook –– but grossly incompetent in natural social skills and severely challenged in the traditional pursuits of knowledge, even unable to recognize right from wrong, sin from holiness. This bodes danger and disaster for our society and could to some degree become a challenge for the church.
Advanced information technologies have brought with them some setbacks; and the Anglican Church will not be without some responsibility in steering those of our threatened youth of the Digital Age back on a sensible and Christian course –– even if it ventures not into cyberspace.
The craving for gadgetry may be overwhelming. The church will have to demonstrate that even in moderation and with temperance said gadgetry may be enjoyable and fulfilling.
Our youths are no different from those others of the world when it comes to being plugged into the social media. The church will need to take advantage of our better behaved young Christian souls in Barbados and channel them into influencing a more responsible and godly usage of the available technology that blessings and peace may be unto us all.