Video games, you tube, and facebook should change the way we do church.
Leonard sweet published a book several years ago where he made the argument the church should become EPIC. The acronym stands for E-xperential P-articipatory I-mage based C-connected. Len’s argument is strengthened by the immense popularity of social networks and gaming. Take a look at just three forms of digital media and what they are saying.
Video Games Besides the opportunity to escape a possibly unpleasant reality the video game offers control to whoever picks up the “controller.” In this alternate reality you are in charge. Whether it’s playing tiger woods golf on the wii or leading an elite fighting unit into the fray you are the boss. You create and manipulate your own destiny. Moreover, the gaming world pulls the player into the center of that universe.
The very architecture of the church betrays the need for people to participate in community. We are working very hard each week to create an experience which can’t be replicated anywhere else than the next sunday @ church. While the services we plan are meant to be a blessing they may actually be inhibiting our congregation from actively adopting a lifestyle of worship and a daily journey with God.
Ideas for implementation Consider the interactive participatory elements made available in your church. Whether it’s mass collaboration on planning, small groups where the true life of the church is lived out, or multiple opportunities for the people in your congregation to serve for the church to thrive it needs to take a cue from video games.
Youtube Am i the only idiot who thought You Tube was ridiculous when it first came out? Okay, besides laughing my rear off at the little kid throwing a baseball at his dad’s, you know what, i thought this was stupid. Ultimately the popularity of youtube tells us two things. 1) people have way too much time on their hands. 2) the world has a story to share, a cause to enlist others, or something that makes them laugh and wants it to be lived on video for the rest of the world to see. This is the ultimate form of participation. On You Tube you can be the star, your story can be heard. In case you think youtube is just an outlet for stupid humor search social action or my story.
Ideas for implementation Youtube is a place where people can find their voice. As the church considers the popularity of this medium it should also ask how can our congregation find it’s own voice in the sea of faces attending church each week? We have recently set up a video booth for our wednesday night youth services. The sign outside the booth says your story. Teens are invited into the booth and have 30 seconds on camera to tell us their story. Their comments range from serious stories of transformation to funny events of the week. During our services we play back about 4 minutes of each weeks recording.
Facebook I don’t believe we are becoming more siloed as a culture, we are becoming more connected. Whether it’s myspace, linkedin, twitter, or yammer people are more connected than ever. My parents generation says this is the death of face to face communication. If it is, it’s certainly not the death of communication. Look, I can’t remember cursive. I spent God only knows how many years learning how to link my letters together, why? Some guy some where decided that was the evolution of writing. He was wrong. I don’t write in cursive and I am far more well read and literate than I was when i did. The point, things change. If face to face communication is ending, which i do not believe for one second it is, then it’s not the death of communication. More than ever people want to be connected.
Ideas for implementation Consider a new form of church community where we are no longer bound by geographical constraints. I love my local church but i also enjoy hearing other people preach. It’s no new idea to upload a sermon to the web but why does it stop there. If our sermons were uploaded in such a way people could respond and connect in virtual community we may see the church itself reinvented.
The church building and it’s liturgy itself is the manifestation of cultural interpretation of how the church should meet, what if we remixed?