Some Deny While Others Criticize

When the World Wide Web came out, some church leaders said that the internet is of the devil. Yet, historically, church leaders have been early adopters of change and technology.

Marketing goes back to the 1450s when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the church’s door in Wittenberg, Germany. He moved away from the traditional means of spreading the message by using the printing press for revolution. Translating the Scriptures into the German language was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Inventor Johannes Gutenberg was a political exile from Mainz, Germany. In 1440, he began experimenting with printing in Strasbourg, France. Gutenberg returned to Mainz several years later. By 1450, the first movable type allowed people to print marketing materials. Martin Luther realized the potential of this new medium. The printing press was equivalent to Zoom or computers in those days. Likewise, church leaders need to use virtually persuasive technology for Kingdom purposes.

In 1472, William Coxton made the first use of print advertising. He printed an advertisement for a book and nailed them to church doors in England.

A Methodist preacher, William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army, had said, “Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?” Several hymns in his church were bar room songs.

The Lutheran Church introduced contemporary folk music. Luther was all about empowering the commoner. He wrote songs based on folk melodies and suds (drinking songs). He was the master of making his messages accessible. Here is a quote from the preface to the 1524 Wittenberg Hymnal:

 “These songs were arranged in four parts to give the young… something to wean them away from love ballads and carnal songs and to teach them something of value in their place…

John Wycliffe was responsible for the very first translation of the Bible into the English language. He died on December 31, 1384. In 1415, he was condemned as a heretic. In 1428, a group of churchmen dug up the bones of Wycliffe and burned them.

William Tyndale translated the Bible into English in 1526. Ten years later, he was publicly burned on the stake. In 1611, scholars produced the King James Bible. They drew 83% of the New Testament and 76% of the Old Testament from Tyndale’s Bible.

Donald Anderson McGavran was a third-generation missionary to India. He was criticized for his ideas. In 1958, he requested several American seminaries that a department focused on church growth be started and, despite the criticism, laid the foundation for Church Growth Movement. In 1961, Northwest Christian College in Eugene, Oregon, established the Institute of Church Growth. In 1965, he became the founding Dean of the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

Great leaders adapt quickly to spread their message among the people. Sixteen years before the 2020 pandemic, in August of 2004, Craig Groeschel had a satellite uplink built at the Oklahoma City campus that provided LifeChurch.tv the capability to send a live video worldwide. Craig received criticism for starting an online church.

We are approaching the start of the 5th industrial revolution.  It will be an era of the internet of things (IoT), machine learning, robotic automation, and voice-enabled search engines. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) and virtual reality will disrupt customer behavior. Persuasive technologies will continue changing our culture and belief.

Every leader knows something needs to be done. The reality is that we need more than a hammer to repair things. There is a lack of understanding of what is required.

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