Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ahead or behind the curve? Office set up, media, and the Christian life

As an interim pastor, I move from congregation to congregation on the average of once per year. The past two ministries I served I didn't keep an office at the church, but at FLCC I find myself setting up an office once again. It becomes a place of both reminders and opportunities.

For reminders, I have Bibles to remind me of God's ongoing work. I have pictures of my wife, Melanie, daughters Kendall and Ashling, and my brothers and extended family. Each of these reminders provide a grounding for who I am and what my mission is in life.

For opportunities, I have a computer at my desk that provides a treasure trove of information and ideas. I have chairs where people come to sit and share their thoughts, experiences and ideas.

Then there are my books. What am I to do with my books? Melanie and I have spent thousands of dollars on books on theology, Bible, history, sociology, pastoral care, preaching, youth ministry, congregational dynamics, etc. There are hundreds of dollars worth of books that we will probably never crack open again, yet I carry them around with me, store them in boxes, move them from congregation to congregation. Not only is this lugging of paper, glue, stitching and ink tedious, but sometimes the thought of going back to my library to refresh my mind on a teaching or idea seems challenging or daunting at best, overwhelming and despairing at worst. Melanie and I have trimmed our collection over the past several months, but we still have hundreds of books.

Music seems to be ahead of the curve compared to books. I am preparing to get rid of/sell about 95 percent of my CD collection. I listen to a CD on a rare occasion--only the radio or an mp3 file. iTunes has changed my listening life. I thought I might keep CDs for the liner notes, but I can get interesting information about musicians easily from the web. Though CD's take up less space than albums (forget about cassettes), they still take up plenty of space.

It appears that the time will come when books are essentially obsolete. The technology is more than ready, available, and will only get less expensive. College and university departments are preparing for a shift in their text preparation by acquainting themselves with electronic book readers, and the stewardship of space side of me finds reducing my books to a single electronic device really appeals to me. Will I really want to read a book electronically? Will it take months or years for my sense of touch to evolve away from the tactile stimulation of turning pages? I know I was thinking the same way about email and newspapers. E-mail has been a quick adjustment, online news--not so much. Will I read the Bible more if I have an electronic version? In the olden (!) days when I had a Bible on my Palm device (about 8 years ago) I didn't read my Bible more on the device, but I did access it for quick reference. The screens were archaic and hard on the eyes--but screens today have improved tenfold.

In the end, I'm not sure if the Christian life is necessarily better because of technology--but I don't think it's worse, either. The Christian life is different, and to ignore it would be poor stewardship as well. But thank you for reading my blog and giving me feedback at the church and in your comments--though our methods of fellowship and learning may be different, the benefits are the same. We get closer to God and one another.

No comments:

Post a Comment