The Last Word

I’m currently preparing to lead a workshop on “technology and the church” for pastors and lay leaders from around the region. While there are certainly people more adept with PowerPoint or more tech savvy than me, I have been in ministry long enough now to know some things about introducing new technologies in the church – (unfortunately) mostly by trial and error.

I’ve been creating an outline for my presentation in my mind for several months. Yesterday, I finally sat down and wrote it down. Had I not brooded and thought and prayed ahead of time, I would have sat down to an empty computer screen with nothing to say.

Interestingly enough, one of the major conclusions I came to regarding the successful introduction of new technology in churches was the importance of planning and preparation. Without research, thought and study, even technologies that have worked well in other churches are likely to fail. Of course, there’s more to it than that – but, in the end, the most important part of the whole process is the preparation.

I’m writing this Last Word on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, sometimes known as “Shrove” or “Fat” Tuesday (or Mardi Gras). Tomorrow begins the season of Lent, which is the season of prayer, fasting and repentance in PREPARATION for Easter. In ancient times, Lent was the time of study and preparation before the baptism of new believers. It continues to be the time traditionally set aside in many churches for Pastor’s Classes; the goal of which is also baptism on Easter morning – dying and rising with Christ.

If preparation is the key to successfully navigating so many other things in life, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn Lent is dedicated to preparation, as well. If you haven’t done your preparation, Easter Sunday can be a little like sitting down at a blank computer screen with nothing to say. It doesn’t diminish the power and beauty of Easter – it just means that life-giving power isn’t as available to you as it might be.

One of the ways many people choose to prepare their hearts during Lent is by “giving something up.” The idea is that by denying yourself of something you enjoy, you will rely more on God and less on other things. And there’s certainly something to be said for that. Self-denial is not something many of us do very well.

Another way to prepare during Lent is by “taking something up.” Whether it is regular prayer or Bible Study or participating in a book study, there are many ways to focus your spiritual life during the Lenten season. Perhaps even attending worship regularly has fallen off your list of priorities. What better time to begin again – in preparation for the real new beginning – than right now. Easter is coming. Let the preparation begin!