October 09, 2007

The Ministry of Information Technology?

One of the topics that permeated both the Spring and Fall CITRT (Church IT RoundTable) events was whether Information Technology in the church is a ministry. For some, the answer to that was simply yes, while many seemed unsure, and a few others said no.

As I typed this post, I was sitting in a Q&A session with my boss, Clif Guy, and his boss, Brent Messick. Brent is the executive director over operations, one of two executive directors at Resurrection. We were there with a group of interested guests, who were visiting in connection with Leadership Institute, a leadership event Resurrection holds annually. Without my prompting, this topic came up! Brent mentioned that some people have asked if he considers operations a ministry. Brent restated his answer to us, "It is a ministry. Absolutely. I say that unabashedly!" He marked some obvious points of contact such as guest services or finance.

Here's how I've thought about it. If work roles that support ministry are inherently ministry, such as information technology roles, then where does ministry stop? Are the vendors who sell us equipment and supplies performing ministry? Without vendors we couldn't perform ministries the same way right? Banks. Are banks performing ministry when they assist finance to get invoices and salaries paid? Is supporting ministry inherently ministry too? Or is work a ministry only when it directly impacts the lives of people, such as discipleship and service? It seems to come down to the interpretation of ministry and where you draw the line.


Jerry - Living Word said...

Yes indeed at our church we are all involved in ministry. At Living Word we are all a community of disciples that desire to live out our mission statement of "Preaching, Teaching and Reaching" by growing in the expressions of the six Biblical marks of discipleship - Pray Daily, Worship Weekly, Study the Bible, Witness to Others, Be in Relationships to Encourage Spirtiual Growth and Be a Faithful Steward of Time, Talent and Treasure to glorify Jesus The Christ. Everything we do is to contribute to this end. Vendors such as banks and suppliers do business with us solely to maximize profit for their shareholders. We do business with them to enable us do ministry.

Anonymous said...

It probably has everything to do with your attitude towards it and your mindset. I know guys who do tech work in church that view what they do as pure tech and not ministry, for them it's just a job that happens to be at a church. I know others, many more, who are doing the same exact work and it's ministry.

For me, it's absolutely ministry, whether it's running sound or EasyWorship in worship or keeping a network or server or PC running so someone can do their job effectively or training someone to use their PC. There is a spiritual gift called helps, which is serving behind the scenes without seen, and that is by far my biggest gift.

On your thought about where to draw the line, the Bible does say do all that you do for the Lord, not to man. Kinda sounds like our life, no matter what we do and where we do it, should be a reflection of Christ aka ministry.

Brian Slezak said...

Jerry and Jim, thanks for the comments.

So from both of your statements, ministry is not just about the doing, but about the attitude or mindful purpose by which we do things.

If we staffed all the support functions of the church with only secular contractors who were not interested in glorifying Christ, the church would certainly not be the same. ;) If we are doing what God called us to do for the Glorification of Christ and building of His Kingdom, is that not ministry?

I like it.

Thanks guys.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the very term ministry reflects both a framework and a context.

A framework in that our labors exist within in the church or missions field. Alone, this would be no more impactful than any other secular position or job.

The key is the context in which those activities exist.

For me the very word context is richly layered. In it's simpliest Christian sense, it implies deliberate direction and leading by the Holy Spirit. It acknowledges our discernment, submission and active response to a call. It compells us to offer up first fruits in our labors. And context is what moves us beyond ourselves and skills from simple social services into the realm of genuine ministry.

I'm always fascinated by the depth of detail with which the Bible describes the preparation of, and ministry within the tabernacle. If we approach our ministry with this same level of deliberatation and attention to detail precisely because we are called to this service, it simply is not "just another job".

In our particular ministry (organization) here, we actively look for opportunities to engage technical professionals who are not already brothers and sisters in Christ. We recognize this as a precious opportunity to model our faith in action while putting into practice the Great Commission. In the process, we build and foster relationship... which after all is the point, right? "...Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship..."