Twittering in church.
Using PowerPoint presentations and modern worship music.
Snapping up literature and downloading podcasts from popular evangelical leaders.
All of this is common church behavior, although the live tweeting from church is more of a developing trend than an established one.
It’s all an unsurprising confluence amidst the explosion of available information. But a lot of it is a big mistake in the eyes of a Charlotte evangelical editor.
Warren Cole Smith is the editor of the Charlotte World, a Christian newspaper. He was the subject of a recent story in the Charlotte Observer, the city’s long-established large-circulation secular newspaper.
Cole has published a new book, but that is not the point.
Tabbed as an “orthodox evangelical” by reporter Tim Funk, Smith took some roundhouse punches on these trends.
For example, how about contemporary Christian music?
Smith says too much of is shallow “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs.
Or, the explosion of technology during worship?
“You see PowerPoint presentations, projection systems. You’ve got to spend an hour looking in the cubbies to find a cross or an altar,” he said. “We have, in the space of 20 years, almost completely discarded the historic symbols of Christianity.”
Smith reserves his harshest criticism for best-selling evangelical author and Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen.
“Joel Osteen has a view of the world that you can have your best life now,” Smith said. “If I were going to rewrite Genesis and put (modern) words into the mouth of Satan … I’d put Joel Osteen’s words there: ‘You’re not so bad. You’re so close to being God now. Just a little tweak, a little tune-up, a little bit better. Just follow these 7 rules.'”
I’m not a Joel Osteen expert, but I do like a fair amount of contemporary Christian music and enjoy visual presentations in church to help drive home a well-planned message.
Does that make me a “soft” Christian?
Perhaps, Smith would say.
Whether you sympathize with Smith or think it’s cool to text the Ten Commandments, it’s hard to debate that healthy debate about church technology and teaching is beneficial.