Technology’s Tension and the Church: A Prophetic Community for a Tribal World

Dr. Bryce Ashlin-Mayo

Art is often a potent and prophetic voice in culture, communicating something that other mediums cannot.  In many ways, that is the place of film in our current cultural landscape.  This reality is evident in the brilliant and disturbing prophetic storylines of Black Mirror and Blade Runner 2049

Another example is the movie Red Planet.  Although lacking in acting prowess and engaging dialogue, the storyline unveils an interesting storyline that articulates technology’s double-edged sword.  On one side, it presents a saving technology that terraforms a planet to make it habitable by humans.  On the other side, it demonstrates technology literally hunting humanity to its demise through the artificial intelligence robot (AMEE) – a Mars surface navigator gone rogue.  Red Planet articulates technology’s tension.

This technological tension is also evidenced in Information Technology and Social Media.  Information Technology and Social Media are slowly and meticulously terraforming culture, while, simultaneously, levelling the access to information and the platform of engagement (amplifying the voices of all).  These two forces have converged, and the church is not immune to their convergence. 

Actuated by media and algorithms, we now live in a tribalized world where we not only differ in opinions with other people, we often are working on a completely different set of information, facts, and assumptions in our individually and algorithmically mediated worlds.  We live in what Eli Pariser describes as Filter Bubbles of our choosing (when we unfollow people we don’t like or believe news stories that confirm our pre-existing biases) and Filter Bubbles not of our choosing (algorithms used by google, social media, etc. to decide what it determines we want to see and what others are actively paying for us to see).

How do we help people in our churches faithfully follow Jesus in this newly forming tribalized world?  How do we, as the Church, prophetically live and act in a way that demonstrates to our world a much better and more collectively human way to live?  How can the Church be in a prophetic demonstration of unity and diversity in our world that is increasingly tribal? 

Join me, March 28th for an interactive workshop as we take a look at the five shifts of Social Media and how the Church can leverage them for the furtherance of the Gospel and the Mission of God.