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The Technology Gap

    Why Are Christian Leaders Overlooking Tech?

    Photo by Gerd Altmann

    Christian leaders affirm technology’s importance, but often fail to see it as a gap deserving further research.

    If you ask the average missional leader what the biggest influence will be on the Great Commission by 2050, they are likely to say, ‘technology’. But if you ask, ‘What should Christians do about it today?’, their response may be, ‘Nothing’ or ‘I don’t know where to start.’

    These are the findings of two separate pieces of Lausanne research from the past three years.

    This past summer at a plenary session for a gathering related to Lausanne 4 called L4NY, leaders imagined together what the gospel in 2050 might look like. Researcher and professor Matthew Niermann took a digital straw poll of the audience, asking them two questions. Some 80-90 participants texted in their responses, creating a word cloud on the screen.

    First, Niermann asked the audience, ‘In 1-2 words, what do you think will shape the world in 2050?’ Eighty-one people responded with about 48 different words, including ‘politics’, ‘ideology’, ‘poverty’, and ‘migration’. But standing out big and bold were two words, larger than the rest: ‘climate change’ and ‘technology’.

    The theme of technology appeared in other people’s responses as well: ‘social media’, ‘transhumanism’, ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘space age’, and ‘electric cars’. Clearly, most prominent in attendees’ minds was technology in some form. It would almost certainly shape the gospel in 2050.

    After that, Niermann asked a second question, and responses populated a new word cloud. He asked, ‘In 1-2 words, what aspect of the world in 2050 do you think will most affect the Great Commission?’ This time 93 people weighed in.

    The words included some of the same topics as before, but also new entries like ‘collaboration’, ‘population’, ‘location of Christians’, and ‘sharing Christ’. The word ‘technology’ appeared just behind more prominent words like ‘prayer’, ‘the Holy Spirit’, and ‘revival’. But again, additional tech-related terms show up too: ‘disinformation’, ‘the internet’, ‘information’, ‘tech’, and ‘media and technology’.

    Clearly the influence of ‘technology’ stands at the forefront of leaders’ minds. They see it as a major influence in the next three decades. In fact, it already is. So what should Christians do about it?

    Read the rest at Lausanne.