Monday, October 21, 2013

Thoughts behind a (slight) shift to low-tech

I come from a newspaper family. Granddad was in the newspaper business for 50+ years, ranging from the University of Washington Daily to the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, to critiquing my print publications and columns. The newspaper was also a regular topic of conversation with Dad in my youthful years.

Print journalism is in the midst of a big shift, most people say it's dying. I've never given up on print journalism as an institution; I continue reading online versions of print publications. However, I didn't realize what was missing until I reflected on how some of my older members were reading print publications. We were picking up different articles and news items, even though we were reading from the same publication. My strategy for reading each journalistic product is different. Online news reading is more stream of consciousness, following link after link, and sometimes altered by pay wall barriers. I read print items in a more orderly fashion--skimming, prioritizing, then reading the entire article when I choose to invest my time on that piece. I determined that in order to broaden my connection with the older generations in my congregation, I needed to reconnect with my low-tech journalism history.

Today I have print subscriptions to several publications (something I thought I would never do again). The list both reflects the broad ideological interests and beliefs of my congregation, and the community in which we live.

Connections with Milennials and Gen Xers are influenced by and through--texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Netflix, my connections with Boomers and Silents take leads from the Tacoma News Tribune, Time Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal. The conversations opened are worth the investment of my time and money for the perspective gained, and the opportunity to share in the idea wrangling with many kinds of people. With these tools I implicitly and explicitly address where God might be in what we share and observe.

This is not to say that my actions represent a formula for adding particular generations in your congregation that may be lacking. There is some media crossover with the generations and their products. My observations are anecdotal in nature, yet important in recognizing that the end goal is not what tool you use to connect on the high-tech/low-tech continuum. The principle remains that we recognize the primacy of building relationships. Know your audience. Know your tools--whether high- or low-tech.

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