It has become apparent since the birth of the iPhone that people are less connected. Not just on a conversational level, but the ways of communicated have increased exponentially. At the beginning of the Email people believed it to be a similar way of communicating and connecting. In truth, it has added another form of communication. After text messaging and social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram connections were not simplified, but multiplied. As any company will tell you, trying to communicate a message today is near impossible at least a message that reaches all people and not just certain demographics.
This has caused the Church to question it's methods of connecting with not only it's members, but also to non-members. Should we spend our time on these new modes of media in order to remain connected. Some have argued we should avoid it at all costs. The question remains, how can we use this new form of communication in the life of Church? There continues to be debates as to whether these forms of communication are good, or whether they are leading to the deterioration of culture and society.
It can seem that for many who grew up before the technological explosion, that the negatives of technology and Smartphones are all we see. The youth of today function almost exclusively through their smart phones. For a Pastor who grew up in the age of Smartphones, I will often focus on the positives and how Smartphones allow family connections and friendship connections that distance would have normally taken away, or the benefits of being a parent and remaining connected with their spouse and children and knowing they are safe.
It can be easy to claim that anything involving technology is bad and there are of course plenty of problems with smartphones, but one of the most devastating for the Church is that people are no longer connected as they used to be. People have lost a connection with their communities. Where most people would find their connections with their local schools, businesses, and neighbors. We avoid connecting with our communities by creating a virtual community through online shopping, social media and online news. The smartphone has disconnected people from their geographical locations from the actual community.
What are we left to do? Well it seems that whether we attempt to create a virtual community over the phone or not, their is a human necessity for community that technology cannot provide. It reveals itself in the birth of Craft breweries, small coffee shops, restaurants who focus on local ingredients from local farms that have become popular. The ability to connect with our community is something that even the smartphone generation desires. These young people are clearly not finding such a community on their phones so they have found it in food and drink or at the very least a glimpse of what they are missing, a restaurant or coffee shop that allows them to love where they are and connect with their community. This leaves the Church in a unique position.
The Church provides this very basic human necessity. The Church provides community. A place in which people are connected not only with other people in the body of Christ through baptism, but we find community in our united purpose as the Body of Christ to those who live in our local community. The Church has an opportunity to fulfill a need that our young people are looking for. A life in the Church that is grounded in their community, the church, and that gives them a sense of community that is not superficial. It is a community that is more then a new craft beer, or a sleek coffee chop. It is a community centered around Jesus who gives people salvation and a purpose in this life. Ironically the Church provides a food that provides more than just community. It is meal that unites us with the Lord Jesus. A meal the focuses on our unity with one another a meal that celebrates community!
In the Church, we can provide a sense of connection that unites people in a smartphone age. We should embrace this gift and learn to express it and not simply condemn the practices of the world. the Church exists to find the need and show how Jesus and his church can fulfill that need. The Church is the community that the world has been looking for!