I backed into computing in 1977. In the early 1980s, I wrote my doctoral dissertation at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta exploring the great potential of computing technology in ministry. That was when PCs were rarely found in church offices.
My doctoral committee demanded that I have a “theological rationale” to anchor the project in the roots of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Otherwise, I should be doing the dissertation at Kudzu University, not one of the finest theology schools in America. Many of the professors had doubts PCs were more than toys, and were convinced they would never end up in churches, if they survived at all. I recall Dr. Doug Hix, my wise advisor and mentor, saying, “Bill, if you cannot answer, ‘What in the world do computers have to do with ministry?’ your dissertation will never be approved.”
It was challenging to blend the use of new technology into the historical-theological traditions of the church. Trying to find a “proof text” such as “Thou shalt use thy Blackberry to stay in touch with thy parishioners” proved futile.
So I explored the roles ministers fulfill, and sought to show how personal computers and technology could (and should) be used as a tool of ministry. My rationale was that ministers fulfill one of three (and sometimes all three) roles of prophet, priest and king. I used Moses, Abraham, and David to illustrate the priestly, prophetic and kingly-administrative roles of ministry.
I never imagined the impact personal computers would have upon our world. But I am glad I was there to see this new resource born and grow up to where it is today. Ministers, who have the same mind-set as engineers, have become quite comfortable and innovative with technology. Churches may now carry their message to the uttermost parts of the earth without leaving the sanctuary.
Last week, I posted my first blog, and have had responses from all over the world; including a response from Columbia Theological Seminary, where my techno-ministry began.
Like my colleagues, I sometimes wear the prophetic hat, speaking forth God’s Word; sometimes the priestly hat, pouring oil upon troubled waters; and sometimes wearing the kingly hat, conducting the administrative aspects of the Kingdom. Any tool that helps us do our work more efficiently and effectively helps us become more faithful stewards.
From the Quote Garden
“After growing wildly for years, the field of computing appears to be reaching its infancy.”