Tekhne + Logia (greek) is the "systematic treatment of an art, craft or technique". Or at least this was the working definition in the 1600s. Today's definition has been modified a bit and reads: Technology is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a pre-existing solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function.
Somewhat a mouthful with some additional enhancements over the last four hundred years but thats OK, we've evolved. My point is not how much the definition has adjusted to fit our use of technology but, how much technology has become as common and necessary as the air we breathe. Well, maybe not as necessary, but definitely important. Theres very little we can do that doesn't involve the use of something that technology hasn't made, enhanced, shaped or modified. Of course, we think very little of its pervasiveness and often excuse its transparency until the toilet stops working, or the power goes out.
So many americans live so close to the grid that most don't consider until a problem occurs how disrupted their lives would be without the technology that purportedly simplifies living. But let me segue this insight into my passion, audio/video. I regularly consult churches on their media needs and over the years I've watched the use of media related technology grow by leaps and bounds even in small churches. More pastors use powerpoint presentations, praise teams, websites and other peripheral enhancements that require computers, recording consoles, multiple microphones and monitor systems all for the purpose of spreading the Gospel.
Its use has been none-the-less gradual and consistent and churches are often faced with the dilemma of wading into the pool of technology expenditure from which there is no return. Once you're in you're in. To illustrate this, the Gramophone was first developed in 1877 and recorded and played music. The Compact Disc was created in the 80s and is still used today. It would be near impossible to find a church that didn't have a CD player but I'd bet you couldn't find one that uses a Gramophone. For now, the CD is a necessary expectation. Of course a Gramophone isn't relevant (now) but it does the same thing a CD player does, it records and plays music.
And here's the discussion, how much technology is necessary to function and how much do we want to function, dependent on technology? Sherry Turkle in her book Alone Together talks about the power of being connected but yet alone. The idea that our connectedness isn't really a window into the world of others but its more like sitting in a room with multiple TV screens of virtuality that we give attention to in a random order of importance. The fact that church services can be served up in a variety of formats i.e. podcasts, streaming, archived viewing, mobile chunks of encouragement begs the question whether our dependence on technology is so severe that we're willing to settle for a virtual christianity, a virtual faith rather than one based on an actual experience with real people and a real Christ.
As the need to remain technologically relevant increases, we must ask the question of whether our efforts are encouraging an actual relationship with a real God or whether we're responsible for encouraging a growing acceptance of a virtual Christ handed out in bite size pieces while en route.