Décor and technological change is a fact of life both for our homes and churches. Sylvia and I recently had to finally do away with the 18 year old wall paper border in the upstairs hallway, and we are coming to grips with the fact that the sponge painted bathroom is past its ascetic prime. So too our tube TV has gone “the way of all flesh” and been replaced by a larger wall mounted flat screen (4K)!
Here at Quail our dark wooden front wall of the sanctuary and small, high-mounted retractable screens had a definitely “dated” look. Modern church structures feature brighter colors and lower mounted wrap-around screens with clear imagery. Thus, we have recently gone through a period of technological change here at Quail as we have installed a new projection system with larger screens. For many, this is a welcome step into the current era of décor and digital technological advancement; for others, it has been met with skepticism.
I understand the skepticism. Change is often difficult even when in the long run the change will be beneficial, as I think will be the case with the new projection system.
Let me tell you why I am for this change… That which separates a church from a secular location is not the technology, but the message. We do not all of a sudden become a movie house simply because we enlarge the screens any more than churches became ‘Honky-Tonks” when we incorporated the piano, which was considered to be a bar- room instrument at the time. These advances simply enhance the communication of our eternal message.
After all, the goal is always to as effective as possible in delivering the once for all message of hope. I believe long term effectiveness for the gospel means knowing about and using every available tool in our toolbox, and doing so in a way that communicates relevance and relatability to our society. We live in a visual age, thus excellence in visual technology is called for. If we look old fashioned, our message of hope will easily be perceived as old fashioned to those who need it most.
As it relates to visual technology per se, visual technology moves towards larger and clearer, not smaller and less clear. That is why my new flat screen at home is considered “better” than my old tube TV. Thus, the larger images projected with laser technology represent a step forward. This step is what I call a decadal move. We (Quail) do not make these sorts of changes often; it would be poor stewardship of our resources to take a small step that would need to be soon repeated. We believe that this move will give us “up-to-date” projection technology for a decade or more.
The church has used the tools of the secular culture for its entire existence. The Apostle Paul did not employ “Christian only” boats as he traveled, nor did he shy away from renting secular lecture halls nor quoting secular authors when it was warranted. The tools of the culture are just that- tools, and they are to be employed in ways that further the process of communicating the Gospel.
The Plywood Crosses
I also realize that some of concern relates to the taking down of the decorative crosses from the front of the sanctuary. This concern over the crosses being moved is something that I pay attention to as it demonstrates a genuine love for the central message of our faith the crucifixion of Jesus where the work of our redemption was accomplished.
However, there are some things to consider… The decorative crosses that adorned our Sanctuary walls are simply symbols of the true cross of Christ. They are not holy relics or icons that warrant our veneration. One of the distinctive features of protestant faith is the proper balance of religious imagery and decoration in our faith system. We do not venerate statues, crosses or paintings of religious scenes. We simply use symbols to point to the greater reality that we see in Scripture. Therefore, it makes no difference (or it should not) as to whether the decorative cross is made of plywood or pixels, we still are using a symbol to remind us of the real thing.
We will seek to re-locate the plywood crosses somewhere prominent on our campus as a symbol of our message of hope that is founded on the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. I remain hopeful that we can re-integrate wooden crosses somewhere in our Sanctuary. Meanwhile, let us work together for the glory of the Lord.
His and yours,