I have the privilege of working in Germany from time to time. I also have the privilege of having family who lives in Germany that I get to stay with. Along with those privileges, I get the chance to go and see things that tend to blow my mind.
I am flying back to Chicago right now, reflecting back on this latest trip, and one of the things that really struck me.
I went to the city of Mainz, where among other things, Guttenberg did his early work with the printing press and movable type. Here was the 15th-century version of a technical artist, someone who was pushing technology to make the Bible more relevant and available to more and more people. Pretty cool.
Going to the museum, I was expecting to be impressed by the printing press itself, or the amazing manuscripts of Guttenberg that were on display. Unexpectedly, the thing that caught my attention was Johannes’ choice of font for his printing press. Or should I say lack of choice of font? He had 2. For the time, I realize that he was using cutting-edge technology, but come on! Only 2 font choices?!
When I stop and think about it, I love the simplicity of his dilemma. So often I find myself caught up so many choices that I get distracted by them. They either stop me from making a choice because I can’t decide, or I end up getting buried by all the possible options and spend all my time trying one thing then the next.
I think that as technical artists in today’s church, with so many options, the way we use technology can get so overwhelming that it overshadows the message or dominates the conversation.
The thing I love about Guttenberg’s limited options is that it was about making the Bible available to as many people as possible. It wasn’t about font choice. He wasn’t trying to wow people with his creativity; he was just trying to crank out as many Bibles as possible. This isn’t to say that he still didn’t spend some energy on some handcrafted artwork, but the bottom line idea was let’s print a bunch of these so people can have them. For some people, the hand-drawn, illuminated Bible was what they wanted/needed, but Gutenberg’s idea was to use technology to print more, was for the purpose of making it accessible to more.
For me, much of technology is in place to help us reach a larger number of people. Amplifying words and music, making graphics so that people can follow along with the scriptures, using IMAG so that more people can make “eye contact” with the teacher.
In today’s local church scenario, where the message being understood is so dependent on technology, it isn’t very far from it becoming the center of attention and taking away something from the message. In Guttenberg’s case, it could have easily been about him and his font choices, instead it was all about God’s word.
How are you using technology in your church? Are you distracted by all the options and therefore taking away from the message? Or are you taking the technology and using it to maximize the message?