Advancements in technology can be a great thing. They can improve the quality of life, make it easier to connect with others and give us greater insights into how the universe works. Advancements in technology, though, often leave other aspects of life, which we once thought crucial, lagging behind.
Netflix and Redbox have killed video rental stores.
Facebook turned MySpace into the barren wasteland that it is.
Amazon contributed to the closing of Borders.
We not only see retail chains and websites killed off by technology. There have been jobs and industries completely eliminated by advancements in technology. Some of those can even be seen in the church. Check out these church nerds who have been replaced because of technological advancements.
Overhead Projector Guy
When I first went to church as a child we had these old Maranatha song books. Every song our church sang was in that book and having the lyrics was as simple as turning to the correct page. After song books faded out, the overhead projector took their place. The overhead projector was manned by the overhead projector guy. His gift mix included attention to detail, a desire to sit in the front row and perhaps an ability to do shadow puppets. I feel like overhead projector guy had his best years from the late 80s to late 90s. He and his marker-stained hands faded into antiquity with the advent of PowerPoint and inexpensive digital projectors. The church may never again see a position so well suited for the Christian hand model population.
You know what Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Matt Redman all have in common? They’re not famous organists. I’ve been around church my whole life and the only time I ever worshipped with an organ was at my grandparents’ church. Worship music has moved away from the traditional organ and embraced more contemporary instruments like guitars, drums and keyboards. Transitioning from more traditional worship music to more contemporary music can be difficult for a lot of people, most of all the organist. The organist once held one of the most important positions in the entire church but advancements in technology and changes to philosophies of ministry have left her behind. Her only remaining options are playing the keyboard or trying to take the job of Nancy Bea, organist for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At my old church there was this awesome, old saint who faithfully made cassette copies of the weekend sermons every week. He would come on Tuesday or Wednesday and fulfill the orders for sermons from the weekend. Even though this occurred in my lifetime, it seems like something that happened in the 18th century. Now almost every church has their sermons available for download on podcast, sometimes only hours after the sermon has been preached. Instead of having to fill out an order form and wait until the next weekend, we can now download the sermon directly to our phones while driving home from church. Even though technology passed him by, the jewels that old saint earned for his crown will still have their shine.
Technology may eventually make our service to God’s kingdom obsolete. Maybe in a few years Youth Specialties will invent a youth pastor robot which teaches students, trains leaders and doesn’t upset parents. When that day comes I will certainly be out of a job. In the end, though, whatever our service and whether it’s made obsolete isn’t as important as the condition of our hearts. A servant’s heart will never be obsolete and will always be irreplaceable.
What other church nerds have been left behind by technology?