Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Would Jesus podcast?

My church here in DC is a big fan of using the most modern technologies to reach anyone they can. I'm certainly not against that. Jesus himself said to preach the gospel to all the nations. However, the more I look at modern technology, the more I wonder if they run counter to part of the Gospel message. Since the radio and television have pulled people from the public square for entertainment into their own homes, technology has progressed as a way to offer people more and more individualized entertainment and information options. The VCR supplanted the movie theater. The cell phone supplanted the fixed line phone. Even the Blackberry supplanted the desktop PC for e-mail.

Podcasting and video podcasting are just another step in that direction. They allow people, such as myself, who missed a radio/tv broadcast to hear/see it later. Our church uses podcasts to reach people that either missed the service or would never come to a church service. It allows the Gospel to be preached literally at any time of the day.

However, Christianity can't be done in a vacuum. One can't follow Christ without engaging with others. We are called to be the Body of Christ, which each person being integral to the entire unit. We must love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength AND our neighbors as ourselves. Can we do that if we cut ourselves off from the Body of Christ by sticking on our white earbuds and just listening to the message?

It is tough to know if Jesus would podcast. He clearly believed in preaching his message of love, forgiveness and right relationship with God to anyone that would listen. He sent out the 12 and then the 70 to preach, cast out demons and declare Jesus' message. However, it was impossible to separate the message from the messenger in his day. If someone was preaching in a synagogue or street corner, listeners would immediately be involved in some sort of relationship with the speaker. Not so with a podcast. We can't have a meaningful relationship with an MP3 or MPEG file.

In the church tradition I follow, "The Relationship" is fundamental to the Gospel. In fact, the Gospel is meaningless outside of relationships. Does that mean the message without the fellowship is also meaningless? Would Jesus podcast?