Blackout!

by think on March 31, 2009

This is truly bizarre. I am typing a post by the glow of my MacBook screen, with a bunch of candles and a kerosene lantern nearby. The wood stove is stoked up for some heat since it’s cold and the temp should drop into the 30’s in a while. I don’t know how low, because I can’t get the Weather Channel. It’s spring in Chicago, which means… absolutely nothing. An ice storm knocked out the power all day, and here we sit.

I am composing this offline because I have no Internet connection to my web hosting service. I can’t check my email, so I can’t receive any of the jokes or videos my friend Tom always sends me. (We talked to his wife a while ago and told her to have him call me and read me something funny over the phone.) I don’t know what my Facebook friends are doing. Are they still alive? Is American Idol on tonight? Who has a cold? How many Tweets vanished into the ether without my notice? I am completely disoriented. Can you Digg it?

I’m not the only one who leans into technology, and sometimes for justifiable ministry purposes. We upload training videos to YouTube and Vimeo. We post leadership lessons on Blogger and TypePad. The Word has become WordPress, and dwells among us… as long as there’s wattage in the cottage.

Just try to do a worship service without a few thousand watts of support. We don’t just need lighting; we need intelligent lighting. We can’t hear ourselves sing without in-ear monitors and our own custom mix. God forbid that we should hold a sheet of paper with the words when a few plasma screens and a couple of high-power LCD projectors will free up our hands. It’s not enough to just hear the music; now we need to feel it. Today, all our amps have to go to 11.

What if my experience blogging in the dark became the norm for our weekend services? One of the benefits of a recession may be the mental (and fiscal) exercise of rethinking what we really need in order to proclaim the gospel of Christ and help people grow to be like Him. I have many friends who are wrestling with this very thing right now. Do we cut staff? Do we lean into volunteers (like we used to)? Do we really need all this… stuff?

What do you think?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Randall Neighbour April 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm

In the aftermath of hurricane Ike, our church buildings and the member’s residences were without power. In fact, most of Houston was without power for two full weeks! The services were cancelled two weeks in a row because we had no power for airconditioning or amplification.

Every night after the storm, we had people in our home eating by candlelight because we had a gas stove and a gas water heater. So, everyone we knew from our small group and many from the groups my wife and I coach took a shower at our house and ate with us.

Due to my own internet addiction, I drove to a nearby hospital and hopped on their free wifi connection from the parking lot. I desperately needed to send and receive email , post something to my own blog, and connect with others in a manner to which I have become accustomed! I am spoiled rotten by electricity and electronics and can’t live without them for long. I bet there’s a healing ministry for that somewhere. I should google it. Oops, there I go again.

During those weeks we went without electrical power, the power of biblical community shined brightly. I wondered how unchurched people without a network of familial relationships were surviving. We included anyone that had a need nearby, but there had to be thousands without any friends or family around them.

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