Technology and the Church

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By Morgan Lewis

Columbia, MD —The African American Fellowship of the BCM/D (Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware) had it’s annual awareness conference earlier this week, focusing on “Technology and the Church.” With a full day of presentations, worship, fellowship, and spiritual insights into incorporating contemporary technology with church activities, the event successfully integrated faith with technology.

Attendees began the day singing hymns. (Photo by Morgan Lewis)

A time of prayer and singing hymns together opened and laid the groundwork for the spirit-led day that included a fellowship lunch and free resources.

Leading the first plenary session was BCM/D Church Partnership Missionary Jeremy Dickson, who has a strong foundation in information systems and experience in both the public and private sectors. Dickson examined what the Bible says about technology and described it as “The application of scientific knowledge to useful human goals.” He pointed out that although the Bible does not specifically address contemporary technology like social media and artificial intelligence (AI), there are examples of technology — some used for good, like the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus 31, and some for evil, like the building of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.

“Technology is neither good nor bad in itself. It’s all about how we use it; therefore, we must choose to use it for good, God-honoring purposes,” said Dickson.

The second session, “AI: What Is It and How Does It Impact Me?” was led by artificial intelligence and electrical engineering expert Dennis Marshall. Marshall emphasized how common AI is in devices like virtual assistants, smartwatches, GPS units, and even vacuum cleaners. He encouraged listeners to intentionally incorporate Christian principles into AI databases while utilizing it to make life simpler and more productive.

Dennis Marshall shares about the way AI is already used in multiple applications in our everyday lives. (Photo by Morgan Lewis)

Marshall illustrated how this technology can help with ministry work by showing how to use ChatGPT, an AI system, to build a sermon. He emphasized to the audience that God’s dominion still reigns supreme even with the breakthroughs in AI.

The last main session was led by RightNow Media’s Ryan Ash. As he described RightNow Media’s operation, Ash’s enthusiasm for utilizing technology to assist the church in practicing its faith became clear. This digital resource provides congregation members and their families—including children—with access to an extensive library of Bible studies and faith-based content.

Note: The BCM/D has partnered with RightNow Media to offer BCM/D pastors free access to RightNow Media.

Ash demonstrated creative approaches that church leaders could use to encourage and equip their members via RightNow Media. During his talk, he reinforced the significance of utilizing digital tools to improve spiritual instruction and church community building.

Ryan and Claudia Hahn, the owners of Hahntek, a small company devoted to IT assistance and education, hosted an afternoon breakout session with hands-on advice for learning and navigating today’s tech-driven environment. The Hahns made sure that everyone, from tech novices to experts, could benefit by offering individualized guidance and solutions catered to different generations.

Trevor Chin, the founder of T.Chin Solutions, led a breakout called “Using Technology Platforms for Ministry.” Chin, who has served as an executive and worship pastor, shared basic, hands-on ways pastors can use technology in their ministry and to grow their church. Chin is experienced in photography, videography, worship trainings, podcasts, and digital creation services. Dickson said many were engaged in this breakout, especially the younger attendees.

Attendees were also given information about the George Liele Institute, a major initiative of the AAF of the BCM/D. Bernard Fuller, who serves on the AAF executive board, shared that the institute is an affordable training option for Maryland and Delaware churches of all ethnicities, but it especially focuses on equipping African American congregations in church strengthening, planting, and international missions.

Attendees chatted about AI and other news technologies available for ministry. (Photo by Morgan Lewis)

Nathaniel Thomas, the pastor of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church and president of the AAF, applauded Jeremy Dickson’s presentation on technology from the Bible, saying it laid a good foundation for the technology presentations. “A lot of folks were looking at the negatives, and now they see the advantages of using AI for kingdom-building. It was very useful information.”

Thomas said, “Many were really grateful and excited about the information. Not understanding technology and then being forced into it since pre-pandemic, this took some of the weight off of their hearts.” Leaders discovered ways to use technology to reach those who have not returned since the pandemic or who haven’t been attending regularly and as an outreach to others who perhaps have never been to church.

Additionally, Thomas referred to the international opportunities through technology. “Our church interacts with people from different countries who share with us in our worship experience through Zoom, Facebook, and mainly YouTube. and we’re able to interact with each other.”

Thomas said. “More workshops are needed to help churches develop that whole piece of technology within the church.”

Morgan Lewis is a Morgan State University student pursuing a degree in Multiplatform Production and a freelance writer.