Future Churches?

touchTerry Guilfoyle presented an excellent lesson on social networking to the ministerial class recently. As he talked, I got the image of powerful connections and unlimited information going to isolated humans. Is this the future of our churches?

Can it really be true that the average person spends so many hours on  Facebook every week? Does anyone meet at work or socially anymore? In the near future, will conversation between friends take place solely on Skype? Are Sunday services obsolete?

As I learned more about our future and current technology, I felt a bit like an dinosaur. I can’t use my cell phone in my house. I read hand-held books. I don’t have an MP3 player, and I’m told they are already obsolete. I don’t have a  twitter account.

I do have a blog and a website plus a pretty substantial presence on Google so that makes me an early adapter for my age group. However, my age group isn’t running the show anymore.

Certainly, technology is a blessing. I love getting immediate information and I believe governments will be less brutal because of instant world news. It is good for grandparents who live far away from their grandchildren. It has made my life as a writer easier. I’m hopeful because I’ve seen marvelous technological developments in my lifetime.

Also, I am interested in history and I know immigrants left their native lands to sail to America and were never heard from again. Now, my Korean grand daughter-in- law talks to her parents often and flies home about once a year.

Despite the obvious improvements, I have some questions about the impact of modern technology. My worries  may sound cranky but they real concerns. Does anyone major in philosophy, art or English anymore? Do you notice how short books are now? Do you know any youth who reads books? And, despite our laborsaving devices, where has our leisure time gone?

Mostly, I wonder how people will gain wisdom in this new world? You get many facts on Google but how will young people learn to reason? Facts do not make us wise. Where will we learn to think and draw conclusions? Will we be totally isolated from  wisdom teachers? No dialog?

Dr. Ernest Holmes, author of the Science of Mind Textbook says, “To learn how to think is to learn how to live.” While great wisdom comes from great literature and from great art and great philosophy, we need teachers to help us with discernment. Questions are very important in teaching.

Our parents teach us to love if we are lucky. They are our first wisdom teachers. Grandparents are great for transmitting unconditional love. Some classroom teachers have the ability to believe in their students and they can be a great gift. Think back to your earlier years. Where did you learn your wisdom? The most effective way to attain wisdom is by being with wisdom teachers and soaking up their mental atmosphere.

Transmission of consciousness from teacher to student or grandparent to grandchild doesn’t happen as effectively over Skype. While people like Oprah have made an impact on our culture, the flatness of the TV screen and distance of the teacher greatly lessens the impact. Commercials don’t help. Wisdom implies a transmission of Spiritual consciousness from a wise person to another.

TV is better than nothing, but we need community and union. I fear that online classes will not be the same as a classroom with human spirit. Without true dialog, the ability to ask questions and exchange ideas, our learning will be limited. Will future youth become more and more isolated from wiser humans? I hope not.

Some of my fear may be because the world has already changed so much during my lifetime. I’m grateful for inventions like; polio shots, penicillin, TV, computers, fax machines, microwaves, clothes dryers and automatic transmissions on cars.

Of course, there were also all those war weapons that have not served us well. Technology can be as terrifying as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein predicted. In my youth we feared nuclear war. Today, drones are terrifying because there is not even a human pilot to drop the bomb. Surely it is easier to sit in an isolated computer room and kill than to fly over and actually see the destruction.

We are dealing with lickety-split change and I am told that this is just the beginning. I can’t imagine watching a movie on my cell phone. I can’t imagine being an average person who spends so many hours  on Facebook either. But I do use more and more technology. And I am fascinated.

As a writer, I’ve worked at home, off and on, for many years. It is isolating and it makes me a bit peculiar. I find I need to balance my work with social activity. I am old and wise, so I take steps to stay balanced. Kids who hang out in the basement playing killer video games for hours and hours are not apt to be wise or well-balanced.

More and more people are living alone and working alone. Many are home schooling their children. We take classes on line and we meet our marriage partners on line. Will we be wise and stay balanced? Is Facebook enough social life?

Despite my doubts, social isolation is already here for many and more is coming to all of us soon. Some futurists predict that neighborhood churches are on their way out. They suggest our spiritual experiences will soon come from computers or smart phones. I don’t believe it!

There is no way to replace the love, wisdom, fun, and connection that Sunday church services provide. Every Sunday, I leave my home church feeling blessed by the wonderful community I find in my Center For Spiritual Living in Carlsbad.

I love having recent talks appear as podcasts on our website. I love listening during the week just for a pick-me-up. But I can’t imagine that just watching or listening on the website or UTube is the same as sitting in church surrounded by the warm auras of other humans.

It doesn’t surprise me that researchers say the happiest people are churchgoers. There is nothing that can replace the sense of loving union with God, with life, and with each other.  There is something about the feeling of connection on Sundays and in classes that is so heartwarming, so inspirational, and so loving, that I wouldn’t trade church services for anything on any machine.

A good spiritual experience changes us forever. It is actually the easiest way to get in touch with the Creative Energy that we call God. That interaction of love between us is important and holy. It is irreplaceable.

I look forward to seeing you next Sunday and be sure you turn off your cell phones.

Ask Yourself

Am I alone more than I want?

Do I need a new balance in my life?

Do I need to learn more about technology?