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Media Matrix Addiction
By: Derek Pfeifer

We live in a world of new and increasing technology and new gadgets. The cool factor of the latest technology gets our attention. Once you have tasted the technology soup, it’s hard to put the spoon down. Our tendency is to want more, and to depend on the next upgrade in order to “do ministry.”

A friend of mine, David Lusk, once preached about “stuff” -- the stuff we accumulate and how we feed our appetites for more. He really hit me hard about needing “new stuff,” and then “different stuff” and “more stuff” in order to try and fill my insatiable desire for stuff.

In the world of media and technology, which is intended to stimulate the deepest senses, it seems like an endless gadget overdose. I love all the new technology, but how do we implement technology without it becoming our master? We are stuck in the Media Matrix.

When our vision ought to be people and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus to a valley of dry bones, often the media matrix becomes the vision. It consumes our money and time, while making us feel successful when we have that critical media production come off without a hitch. It prompts some questions. Did my homeless friend connect with the spirit of his creator because his heart was touched? Did the message that day and the visual impact of the media production make him consider Jesus? When we went to lunch afterward, did we talk about the production or did the production make him want to talk about his plight?

Well, first, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Finding your way through the Media Matrix can be tricky, but doable. There is a co-mission in the commission. God wants to partner with us to reach the world. He compels us to use every possible means and every situation to display his glory. So, how to you ride the roller coaster of using, buying and developing all the gadgets, while also making sure that we know that riding in the vehicle is not the destination?

Being Just Like Dad
When God made us in His image, we received many of his attributes--thinking, reasoning, loving, being a warrior, protecting, being creative, esthetic judgment, compassionate, etc. In this mix, the creative attribute is one of my favorites. 

Married to an artist and having an artist/architect son and ballerina daughter, I am blessed with a constant flavoring of new design and eye candy at which to amuse my artsy side.  And I love it when out of our church emerges another creative moment by a new member

or kid in the youth group. We should use the best technology that will touch the senses of the lost to reach our culture, our world. Where the culture is immersed in technology, there we should be taking the electronic realm back from the devil to be used for God’s glory. Take a look at a snapshot of Jesus walking down the road with his disciples. He uses a fig tree as a video slide show. God did give us the ability to design and make things pleasant and palatable, and we ought to use it.

Senseless or Sensible?
I know you must have visited the “we ain’t doing none of that fancy stuff” church. You may have felt that the worship service was out of touch and unable to connect with today’s culture. Perhaps the language was 161l-ish, or the message irrelevant; the songs about God but not really to God. Poor lighting, poor HVAC, insufficient or nonexistent sound system…you fill in the blank. You left frustrated, feeling badly about feeling badly.  It was void of anything that would communicate to the senses. You may have asked, “What was the purpose”?

Let’s be sensible. That which lacks the fuel to fire up the senses does not move anyone.  How can you ask the Lord to move in the hearts of those present if you never put anything into the heart language or make it relevant to what may be going on in their lives? When the Lord says that he calls all men everywhere to repent or perish, those are life and death words. Perishing should scare the sin out of us. Repentance is a change of the heart--it is emotional.

The Lord definitely knew how to touch the audience. When He wanted to touch the hearts of the Jewish leaders who thought they had it all together, he tells a story of a lost boy who came home to a waiting father. How shocking it must have been to tell of Jehovah picking up his robe and running out to meet the boy. You think it convicted them to be described as the older brother?  

In John 8, Jesus looked into the eyes of the woman caught in adultery, said, “Woman, don’t live like this any longer, I don’t condemn you.” How sweet, how incredible is his love, his smile. God is all about the senses--the heart. See the sunset. Catch a rainbow trout. The ultimate artist/technologist is trying to reach us.

God can work through what you have. Learn to use well the technology that you have.  Master it. Invest in good equipment and good training. Don’t be two steps behind the latest technology – your audience isn’t. God will take your humble two mites worth of creativity and do wonders.

Let’s take the story of Jesus in Luke 5:1-11. Catch these scenes.

Verse 1 - We all have multitudes to teach. 
Verse 2 – Jesus saw two boats (technological vehicles).
Verse 3 – He used his present-day technology (gets in the boat and pushes out for a natural amphitheatre/sound system).
Verse 4- He tells the boys that they need to learn to launch out on faith, too.
Verse 5 – He expects us to catch. Keep fishing. It is not an exercise in futility--it’s just one catch away from failure or success.
Verse 6 – Caught a huge number. Think bigger.
Verse 7 – Signal for help. Just get some help!
Verse 8 – When the Lord blesses you, fall to your knees – it is always humbling to see the Lord work.
Verse 9 – Be astonished at how many people can be saved.
Verse 10 – Don’t be afraid to follow God. When He says go, or move, just do it.
Verse 11 – They followed him.

In that miraculous media moment, they understood the heart change that they had just experienced. “Fishers of men” now took on a whole new meaning. They knew that they would never be the same—they had to go after the lost, had to follow Jesus. Don’t you know how they rewound that video of their minds a thousand times?

So, you may be addicted. Change your addiction, and you will be fine. The media needs to serve your Master. Don’t let it be the master. Do you wonder where all this technology will take you? You don’t always have to know where you are going as long as you know who you are following. God knows the way into people’s hearts. You, stuck in the Media Matrix, can be the interface. Use your technology to that end, and you will master the Media Matrix. Be bold, be brave, and be faithful.

Derek Pfeifer represents Softouch Development Inc., creators of EasyWorship church presentation software, www.easyworship.com.

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