We criticize the Church a lot for lagging when it comes to its use of technology. And she deserves it.
Should our presentations, events and services be more professionally polished and technologically impressive? Yes.
Should our websites and design work be reflective of the seriousness with which we take our work? Absolutely.
Should we, the champions of communion, also be the foremost champions of the latest communication methods? Of course!
But in the end, these are not what we should be known for most. The opportunity for us is a much greater one. And it's one that is deeply and directly connected with the core mission of the Church in the first place.
The challenges running the Church, working for justice, evangelizing, administering works of mercy, etc. have always been the same. All over the world, there are needs that require resources. There are questions that require answers. There are people who need help. There are hungry who need food. Etc.
And the challenge for us has always been finding ways to connect them.
Today, with the advancements of technology, we can acheive these ends both in more effiecient ways and in completely new ways. This is why Church leadership should be the champions of these new technologies — because they are directly connected with achieving the same mission the Church has had from the very beginning.
So using these new fangled communication tools is not just a matter of "reaching people where they're at" or "communicating in the ways people are communicating." It's those things, too. But if you reduce new communication technologies to a kind of mere preference of one generation to communicate one way over another, then you miss the best part. They also offer something much more practical to the work of the Church. And *that's* precisely why everyone in the Church should be a champion of them.
Now things like feeding the hungry take on even deeper meaning. Not only can technology and new media help us to actually feed good food to more hungry people more effectively, but how many more hungry souls out there can now be fed in so many other more profound ways?
How much more easily can we now find those in need? Whether it's a hungry person on another continent or a suffering person in a chat room down our street.
How much more clearly can we now define, communicate and address the problems causing these needs in the first place? How much more easily can we find and identify those in the world who may have resources to help? And then clearly communicate to them the need in a way that inspires them to give more and to support the cause?
How much more easily can we nurture the relationships that need to be nurtured, build the networks that need to be built, and to tell the stories that need to be told? And do so in ways that move people to put their faith into action?
New technologies - and communication technologies in particular - offer opportunities to do the work of the Church more effecitvely than ever before. Making the most of these opportunities is what the Church should be known for online.
Not (just) for being creative marketers, polished communicators or tech-savvy leaders, but for being the ones who use technology and new media to uniqely make important connections in order to better serve the corporal and spiritual needs of the world (therefore being a better Body of Christ).
In 20 years from now, I hope the world looks back on us today and that is our "online" legacy.