DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

High-Tech vs High-Touch

Written by: on November 7, 2019

Scott Galloway, author of The Four, offers his lessons for navigating the new reality we are all living in with Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google. I am better informed and can be a more conscientious consumer with this peek behind the curtain. I thought of Newport’s reference many times – that these kinds of innovators are not hipster geeks in flip flops but the new tobacco farmers pushing what is addicting.[1] They know exactly what they are doing.

The numbers around the four are staggering – from engagement numbers to market share to revenue growth to profits per employee. These four horsemen are changing our world. These numbers, this crushing of the competition, the innovations of the four presented in this book is interesting at best and debilitating at worst. Galloway’s comment on the low, efficient number of workers the four employs struck me:

“This uber-productivity creates growth, but not necessarily prosperity.”[2]

He goes on to present astounding figures of how the richest are getting richer but that there a fewer of them. It makes one wonder where hyper-efficiency and uber-productivity will lead. What is the end of this worship, this obsession? Could it amass more wealth for the already wealthy but the average person’s life not be meaningfully enriched? In the business world of these four, it seems the “have nots” do not benefit.

While I grapple with the gifts and dangers these four companies (conglomerates?) present, I wonder what the implications are for charismatic church leaders. Our emphasis on scale, multiplication, growth strategies, and the like, in large church settings has me wondering where and how well we attend to the small, to the individual, to the one.

I can get overwhelmed with how much there is to do in this broken world. And Andy Stanley’s mantra is helpful in dealing with the crushing amount of human need: Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.[3] This brings me back to action from the cliff of overwhelm.

The Church is the largest volunteer force on the planet. If even a fraction of the estimated 2.42 billion Christians are on the greatest mission known to man, it is staggering.[4] This demands that leaders pay close attention to how we handle this “resource”. Our development needs to be more human – where we don’t herd people through an on-boarding process without someone listening to their story. We do not assume that because they finished a discipleship study that we have “discipled” them and now they only lead.

I keep thinking about it this way – spiritual leaders do shepherd others and should but they are also sheep themselves. How and when and where do we allow leaders to be humans and cared for by the Great Shepherd? Maybe you do not appreciate being called a sheep so I will say it another way. Before any of us led anything or were capable or promoted or essential, we were a child of God. And we will always be this to God, even if we lead hundreds on His behalf. We need to attend to that truth ourselves and invite those we lead to do the same.

People can get high-tech everywhere but where can people still get high-touch? Not easy but it is critical for us to leverage technology while serving the individual personally. When Christian organizations experience growth, may all humans connected to it flourish.

 


[1] Cal Newport. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2019), 9.

[2] Scott Galloway, The Four: the Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (NY, NY: Portfolio/Penguin, 2018), 266.

[3] https://store.northpoint.org/products/one-not-everyone

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups

 

About the Author

Andrea Lathrop

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, mom and student. I live in West Palm Beach, Florida and I have been an executive pastor for the last 8+ years. I drink more coffee than I probably should every day.

8 responses to “High-Tech vs High-Touch”

  1. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Thanks, Andrea. You are speaking straight from my own heart. This is my biggest concern for current trends in the church and it is a repeat of the last four decades so we have indicators of what the outcome will be if there isn’t adjustment. Shepherds need to recognize ourselves as sheep first or we aren’t safe shepherds. Jesus never modeled mass production in making disciples. He focused on the one, the few and there was so much more to his discipleship than verbal teaching as more is caught than taught. That’s one of the serious downsides to The Four, they come across as personal and intimate with each consumer but it is a facade covering the machine of mass production inside. Great post.

    • Andrea Lathrop says:

      Tammy, I can’t explain how grateful I am for your example. That I get to “read” you for these years is a treasure to me. Thank you for your comment and honest reflection – you are indeed an amazing shepherd.

  2. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Andrea,
    Thanks for reminding us in the “successful” high-tech world of The Four, that people still need to be touched and connect with real human beings. May the church as ever step into this opportunity for such a time as this! May we as pastors remember you must touch people first if you want to love them towards Jesus.

  3. Mario Hood says:

    I was reading a paper the other day and suggested that we have ditched the metaphor of shepherd for that of a rancher. Pastors have gone from caring for the sheep to hoarding them, just as you have said. I think one of the reasons is just as you said, we have forgotten that WE TO ARE SHEEP! Sorry for screaming but somehow someway on this journey pastors have become leaders and sheep have become commodities of mass production.

  4. mm Jenn Burnett says:

    I think this is a good comparison Andrea. So how do we shift culture back from consumption to connection? What do we have to put to death in our own selves? How do we re-engage our own vulnerability in a way that invites relationship? And where is tech useful in this and where is it an impediment?

    • Andrea Lathrop says:

      Jenn, these are such good questions! Our obsession with convenience and short-cuts would have to die that’s for sure. I have to relinquish my obsession with numbers a bit since for me, it masks the people part of ministry…so much more to say…appreciate you.

  5. mm Mary Mims says:

    Andrea, I love that you talk about being high-touch as well as high-tech. I agree that we need to leverage technology, since that is what the next generation is doing. Thank you for helping to lead the way.

  6. Andrea, I like your relating the book to the need to ensure that every member of the congregation is important and there’s need for every person to be effectively discipleship and ministered to. With numbers and scale receiving more focus than effective discipleship, we can easily deviate from our very important responsibility to effectively prepare the sheep to bear fruit.

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