incommunicado

Our phone line is out of action at home. I don’t know why. One minute it was working fine, the next… nothing. So if you are trying to contact us at home, sorry. It also means that our internet access is down. If you send me an email I can read it on my Blackberry but may not be able to do anything like read attachments for a while. Sorry.

It is amazing how debilitating it is when something as simple as the phone line breaks. We rely so much on technology. Last week I wanted to contact someone for whom I had no phone number and who was ‘ex-directory’. I resorted to ancient technology and wrote a letter… by hand! My fountain pen must have felt as if it was its birthday!

Now the astute among you will be wondering how I am writing this blog and publishing it online if I have no internet access at home. Well, I am in the Minister’s office at church, where the internet is still working. I have to make the most of it before I head back home and go more or less incommunicado.

We've been cut off - by line fault, not for non-payment!

I have been thrilled recently at how many people who are new to our church, or are visiting us, have found us from our church website (link here if you are interested). I think it is a lovely design and easy to navigate (kudos to Sara Lewis for the design and maintenance). But it is clearly one way in which people are looking to find a church. It does help us that our name ‘Colchester Baptist Church’ contains two of the most likely words that people who are looking for a church in Colchester will type into a search engine: ‘Colchester’ and ‘church’. It means that we appear on the first page of results. I am tempted to suggest that we change our name to ‘AAA Colchester Baptist Church’ if others start cottoning on to this!

The thread that ties all of these disparate thoughts together is the realisation that technology like the internet is an integral part of our lives, and we miss it when we can’t access it. I can say ‘our’ with confidence because you are reading this, which means you are online. Those who are not online will be blissfully unaware of the bloggerel I write. As churches we need to realise that the internet is here to stay and engage appropriately with the technology.

Perhaps in the future we will have virtual  online congregations alongside our physical gathered congregation – using social networking or video conferencing to engage with what is happening in the service. When it comes to the offering they can hit ‘donate’ and go to a separate secure page in which they can input card / bank details. When it comes to the sermon they could have the Powerpoint graphics streamed to their computer at the same time as they go on the screen in church. There is scope for online baptisms with streaming from a local swimming pool (pun intended) linked to the church. Prayers could be submitted by email. And if there is a response to be made a pop-up could appear at the right moment: “Do you wish to go forward? Yes / No”

This is a bit tongue in cheek (I hope you realise that) but at the same time, if we fail to communicate in the language of the people we are in danger of reversing the effect of Pentecost and making it impossible for people to hear the good news in their own language.

To help you learn the new language here are a few new words, taken from last night’s sermon:

What would you think if I said that someone had a ‘microwave mentality’? It doesn’t mean that they love ready meals. It means that their attitude to life is that if something can’t be done in five minutes it’s not worth doing.

How about ‘shoop da whoop’? It’s a computer gaming term and is the sound that describes a laser gun being fired.

Or how about ‘chairdrobe’? This is the art of piling all your clothes on a chair in place of a wardrobe or chest of drawers. Apparently if the chairdrobe is full you can use the floordrobe.

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