Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Prohibition or Stewardship?

Sometimes I traverse my imagination not in the future, but in the past.  I craft stories and look for wisdom to inform my present.

Fifty, sixty, seventy years ago, a church board probably gathered to discuss the merits of leasing a telephone for the congregation. The debates likely held a moral dimension. What if some of the members of the church don't have a telephone? Will face to face communication be compromised? Telephones encourage gossip, and the church cannot condone the specter of gossip.

Martin Luther had a similar debate with his fellow priests regarding placing the Bible in the hands of the people in their own language. What kind of Pandora's Box could be released when people could read the Bible on their own?

One need not travel far in conversations online or face to face regarding the fraying of societal fabric because of social media. These debates accelerate exponentially because the availability of tools holds its own turbo charge. Because people fail to control the generation of communication resources and social media tools (overwhelming!), the solution appears to be prohibitions and allowances. Cell phones are forbidden in worship! No tweeting during the meetings! The integrity of community is compromised!

Prohibitions and allowances often reflect fear. Sometimes fear is warranted, even understandable. Boundaries are good. However, consider looking at communication tools and social media as a group of issues related to stewardship rather than a turf war. How can we use what is available to connect with God and neighbor? The tools change, the crux of the argument involved changes little.

Post-script: the link between stewardship and communication is not new, Quentin Schultze published a book linking stewardship and communication over 12 years ago. Social media has expanded the relationship between communication and stewardship and reading Schultze's book gives recognition to how far communication tools have expanded in a decade. The concept of communication stewardship in the church and world needs leadership.


  1. "Prohibitions and allowances often reflect fear." Almost always, alas. Reframing this as stewardship makes a lot of sense. Thanks for this great post.

  2. Wow! Great post. Move away from fear & control toward stewardship. You nailed it. Will definitely be using this approach!