File this one under “Continuing Education.”
As most of you know, in 2013 I resigned my beloved church of 14 years and relocated across the country to my ancestral homeland in order to focus on writing. Then, six months ago (March 2016) The Lord made it clear to me and our church that I was to pastor again.
What I have learned is that things changed while I was away.
I don’t mean away from Texas, I mean away from day-to-day ministry.
One of the things I have learned, the hard way, is that email is dead.
When I was in Port Orchard, we relied upon email for almost everything. It was efficient and cost effective. I think my love for email was bias. When I arrived in Port Orchard in 1999, they were very much in the technological word of 1985–One computer used only for printing the bulletin, no internet connection on site, and certainly no email database. I was opposed early on with the typical “What about people without a computer” and I told them that “We will still use snail mail for those folks if they request it, but soon everyone will be using email for just about everything.” I think people 30 and under view email the same way I think of a fax machine–as something akin to an abacus. Nevertheless, it is hard to let go of a beloved method.
I was right, of course. Right up until I left email was our primary mode of communication. It was more vital than our website, the app we built, Facebook, Twitter, or text messaging. We had email distrubition lists for every group, sub-group, and ministry in our church. It was wonderful. It was easy. It worked.
That is not the case in my new environment. True, some of that might be location, but I suspect it is a cultural shift. Almost no one emails anymore. Most people don’t check their email more than weekly. The only thing email is useful for now is to send a document–and the only way that works is if I send the person a text message saying, “I sent you a document, check your email.”
Email is dead. Text messaging is alive and well.
This fall will find me trying to figure out how to be non-intrusive about the use of email and communication, particularly with worship guests. Again, for the past decade my modus operandi has been to send guests an email first thing Monday morning. That will not work anymore. A phone call is, I think, a little too pushy and needy. But a text message, that seems to be the zeitgeist of the age.
Just text me, everyone says.
Text messages fit our desire to absorb information quickly and move on. With our phones we don’t have to log in, clear spam, or use an bulky app. It is intuitive. It pops up on the screen. It waits until I’m ready to answer it.
This is different for me as a minister. In 2013 text messaging was certainly around, but it was something we mostly did amongst close friends and family. Remember? It would never have crossed my mind to text a receipt to someone, to text a customer service issue, to text a stranger, to text a business, an airline, or anyone I didn’t know very well. But that has changed, dramatically. We text everyone all the time about everything.
I wonder how the Apostle Paul would have used text messaging . . .