I want to focus in on the role that technology can/will play in the reimagining of the conference. First off, technology is changing our social norms, a fact that shouldn’t be overlooked in our reorganization.
a. Administrators and spokespersons are being replaced by systems and crowd sourcing
b. Your ground level employee can organize through technology more effectively and responsively than an administrator
c. Committees and commissions are too slow. We’ve entered the age of do first, then evaluate. We need visionaries more than structure.
a. John Doe can break a story a story on twitter way before CNN. Similarly, a congregant’s message of hope and love has just as much potential to go viral as a message from the Bishop.
b. The sharing of information can and should come straight from the source, not though traditional publications.
c. Administrators should give up on controlling the message, in favor of positive reinforcement – and transparent engagement – with what the little guy is saying.
3. Cyberspace is Everyspace
a. “Our Congregants don’t have Internet and don’t know how to use it” is a valid but tired excuse. The benefits from leveraging technology are far greater than the alienation of a shrinking minority.
b. Smart phones and tablets have become pervasive. People can participate in the church wherever they are. Your church building in turn, is devalued.
4. The Internet is our LARGEST parish
a. I told the Bishop recently that young adults are connected to the internet 5 hours a day. I exaggerated; it’s merely 3.5 hours a day. If we are going to enliven our mission, the internet MUST play a vital role.
b. We are disconnected from our neighbors but not our facebook friends.
c. Sacred and substantial stories of hope and love happen on the internet every day. Saying that the internet doesn’t lead to “real” connection is a lie we tell ourselves to justify our inability to engage there. The relationships are different, but real.
I think it’s appropriate that the conference is forgoing “The Reporter” in favor of reimaging conference communications. I would add that every dollar spent on technology – used wisely – will equal far more than a dollar’s worth of ministry. There will be a temptation to cut technology resources along with everything else. This is a mistake. For the reasons above, now is the time to double down on technology. Our leaders and our gray haired ones need training. We need to put systems in place that puts the power in the hands of your average congregant. What administrators are left should transition into the role of facilitator and innovator for these systems. Now is the time. The longer we wait, the more irrelevant we’ll become.