Fuller alum Shane Hipps and Professor Ryan Bolger speak at the 4th annual Brehm Lectures
Payton Hall on Fuller’s Pasadena campus was standing room
only on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 31 as students, faculty, and staff
clamored to attend the 4th annual Brehm Lectures.
This year’s program was titled “Reformation 2.0: Worship in
a Digital Age” and featured Shane Hipps, former preaching pastor at Mars Hill
Bible Church, and Ryan Bolger, associate professor of church in contemporary
culture. Fuller’s Artist In Residence and affiliate professor in Theology and
Culture, Barry Taylor, moderated.
Hipps and Bolger gave presentations on how cultural changes
brought on by the invention of the printing press and printed word resulted in
16th century reformations of Western churches. They then discussed--and
sometimes debated--the implications of new technology on the church and
“As Christians, we need to look at the medium and ask some
questions. Not yes or no, but what and how,” Bolger said. He noted that people should
ask what particular kinds of media are doing to the players. He encouraged
“gospel-like” questions, like “Are people moved toward Christ or community?”
Hipps said technology is not value neutral and different
types of technology will enhance or hurt what people believe. “You have to know
your values before you can decide whether or not to use a technology,” he said.
Bolger echoed Hipps adding that people often create secular
spaces in their minds, but all spaces, including digital realms, are full of
meaning and important theologically.
“Time on Facebook isn’t just time on Facebook,” Bolger said.
“If youth pastors are spending time on Facebook interacting with youth, that
has theological worth.”
But Hipps and Bolger disagreed on the extent to which the
digital age has affected face-to-face interactions.
Bolger said social media has become an extension of
face-to-face interactions and users are often more social as a result of it. This
can enhance church community and build relationships.
Hipps argued that people generally know and intuit that exclusively
digital social interactions lack depth. “It is an anemic expression of human
reality,” he said. He cautioned that although technology connects, it also
separates and inoculates people against needing to be together physically.
Barry Taylor chimed in saying that social media can present
opportunities for churches, but demands a change in the kind of community people
The audience was invited to participate in the discussion
through question and answer periods. Students from Fuller’s regional campuses
in Northern California and the Northwest region watched the lecture via webcast
and were invited to ask questions via Twitter.
The full session will be available on video, here.
Barry Taylor and Shane Hipps will be speaking more on the
visual age at the Preaching in a Visual Age Conference from November 1 – 3. Go here