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Reformation Reboot

Reformation RebootNote: Lutherans celebrate Reformation Sunday on Oct. 26 this year. Reformation marks the time when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door—a message that ultimately “went viral.”

by Twila Schock

Caitlin, one of our eighth-grade confirmands, bounded up to me with her usual eagerness one Sunday morning and announced, “Pastor Twila, please make a selfie with me on my iPhone. I want to put it on Facebook so everyone can see how cool our church is.”

The next week she appeared again with her phone and said, “It’s selfie Sunday. Let’s make another one. I’ll share them all with you in a photo stream. They’ll sync to your iPad.”

“A selfie? iPhone? Facebook? Photo stream? iPad? Syncing?” I thought to myself, “They certainly hadn’t prepared me for this when I graduated from seminary in 1987.”

It is true. In 1987, a handful of us seminarians had computers. Only the most high-tech offices had a fax machine. And, e-mail, the Internet, websites, and Twitter? They weren’t even a twinkle in our technological eye yet.

 Indeed, ministry has a very different flavor than it did in 1987. Today, many of my phone calls to parish- ioners are made via Bluetooth on my car phone. I use Siri, the computer voice on my iPhone, to get driving instructions to members’ homes. My congregation just started a marketing team which is currently refreshing our church’s website and considering whether we need to tweet.

Our stewardship committee recently used Facetime to conference in a member who could not be present. And, my parishioner Holly texted me from the hospital’s delivery room to announce that she had just given birth to baby Kate.

Even preparing for Sunday worship has changed, as I use online commentary materials—rather than books— to assist my sermon preparation, and our church administrator uses downloadable worship resources to ready the bulletins.

 All these changes in technology and social media! They’re enough to make my head spin. And, frankly, there are days when I wonder where the church is headed and if I’ll be able to keep up.

The Rev. Twila Schock serves as senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Belvidere, Ill. She spent 18 years working in ELCA Global Mission, serving as a missionary in Slovakia, Germany, and Russia, and as director for missionary sponsorship and global gifts.

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