Occasional Paper

Christian Faith and Technology

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Editor's Note

This Lausanne Occasional Paper was produced by a sub-team of the Lausanne Theology Working Group in the lead up to the Fourth Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. This strategic once-in-a-generation gathering will be held in Incheon, South Korea from 22-28 September 2024.


Technology has always been an integral part of human life. Throughout history technology has allowed humans to communicate, build, explore, create, prosper, and survive, but also to exploit, dominate, destroy, and kill. Technological artefacts are part of the matrix of everyday life, and yet through them we recreate and remake the world. The creation and the use of technology gives rise to new environments, cultural expressions, and practices. In the Bible, technology is mostly mentioned in passing, as a footnote to human life. There are, however, points in the stories when it features more prominently: an ark becomes a means of God’s salvation (Gen 7-8), a tower a symbol of human hubris and oppression (Gen 11:1-9), the medium of tablets the conduit of divine law (Exod 24:12), a building built by human hands God’s dwelling place (1 Kings 8:10-11). Through images as such ‘potter’ (Jer 18:6-7) and ‘master craftsman’ (Prov 8:30), God himself is portrayed as a technologist, a yoke is used as a metaphor in a parable (Matt 11:28-30), a tool of execution takes the life of the Saviour of the world (John 19:18), and a city becomes the symbol of a future hope (Rev 21:1-3). If we intentionally look for it, we see that technology is mentioned all over Scripture. 

Nevertheless, the presence of technology in the stories of the Bible is assumed rather than explained. And there is very little, if any, deliberate reflection on technology as technology. We can speculate over the reason for this omission. Theological reflection often emerges from the lived experiences of the people of God and the need to make sense of our lives in the light of God’s revelation. With the pace of technological innovation today, and the socio-political and cultural changes that it brings, technology has become more manifest in our lives, in society, and in the life and mission of the church. The demand for theological reflection and discernment of technology in this situation becomes more acute. 

There are a number of reasons why the church needs to take such theological deliberation seriously. For one, as a manifestation of our ultimate hopes and fears, technology poses existential questions about the meaning and purpose of life. Technology also raises important questions about human nature, about human creativity and its relation to the creator God. Technological artefacts are the products of human cultures, but their use is negotiated by individuals and communities giving rise to new cultural practices, ways of living, shaping human communications and relationships. It expands time and space, creating new environments in which humans live, play, work, fellowship, worship, and pray. This invites us to ask questions concerning discipleship, church life, and mission in cultures emerging through the technology that we create and use. Finally, the fact that technological innovations are the products of culture implies that technological artefacts are value laden, and this has socio-political implications. Technology, then, demands careful theological and ethical consideration. 

Some formulations on technology can already be found in The Cape Town Commitment (CTC). This commitment affirms that media communication technology can be a powerful tool for mission and evangelism, and it implores the church to ‘creatively’ but ‘critically’ make the most of its affordances in order to ‘[make] the case for the truth of Christ’ (CTC IIA.4). This paper seeks to go beyond the tentative pronouncements in the CTC in a number of ways. Firstly, while endorsing the notion that technologies are tools that can be used to certain ends, a broadened definition of technology is required in order for us to understand its cultural implications. Secondly, this suggests that we need to move beyond a mere utilitarian view of technology, towards a more expansive and nuanced theological reflection on the implications of such cultural dynamics. Thirdly, this emphasis in turn suggests that there are important missiological reflections pertaining to contextualization as the church seeks to engage in faithful witness in the environments created by technology.

The primary purpose of the paper, then, is to provide suggestions for how we might frame such engagement. We look to biblical and historical precedents as well as to contemporary perspectives that might help us in this task. It should be pointed out that while digital technology will feature strongly in the paper, our aim is not to limit the discussion to any particular technological artefact. Thus, while it is important to address the implications of the use and impact of digital technology on the church today, our reflection on digitality here primarily serves as illustrative of the kinds of questions the church needs to engage.[1]

Defining Technology

Already from the discussion in the introduction it is apparent that the way in which we define technology has implications for how we theologically come to grapple with it. The word technology is derived from the Greek word technologica, whose root words techne means art and logica means skill; together they refer to the artefacts and/or processes associated with creating products or resources that help us apply our knowledge.

Technology as a tool

There are different ways we can approach the concept of technology. One of the most common approaches is to see technology as a tool. This involves seeing technology in terms of it being a device or resource designed to help complete a specific task. For example, a computer can be approached as a technological tool that can be used to create programs that help people communicate with each other via computer networking. This view is informed by its etymology, as noted above, where technology is connected to ideas of a specific tool built for a particular craft, profession, or action. Technology is then viewed as a tool created by humans in order to help them adapt to their environment in some way. Here technology is an end product.

Technology as a process

Technology can also be approached as a process. In this way technology is seen as offering individuals a series of actions or steps that facilitate knowledge creation and discovery. This involves steps such as creation through invention, innovation through adaptation, and diffusion through the process of spreading the technology to others. Technology as a process is clearly seen when we look at different technological industries—from digital media to biotechnologies and artificial intelligence systems—which rely on the creation of distinct procedures and methods in order to create a product. This directs our attention to the design processes, which shape the uses and intentions of our technologies.

Technology as a culture

Technology can further be seen as a facilitating a distinctive culture. It has become common to speak about digital culture or technoculture as spaces created when humans engage with technologies. Just as human culture is a manifestation of human actions and achievements, so too are technologically created cultures as they manifest the relational, communication, and need-based practices established by their users. For example, social media platforms such as Facebook or TikTok can be seen as cultures shaped by their users, as they adapt to the constraints and opportunities offered by these platforms and create unique patterns of use.

Technology as a spiritual artefact

It is also important to understand that there is a long tradition of equating technology with spiritual language, religious qualities, and transcendent experience. These ideas come out of historic discussions. For example, Martin Heidegger argued in the 1950s in his work ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ that any attempt at human control over technology can be equated with a spiritual act, mimicking the relationship of the creator to the creation. He also asserted that for many, technology is viewed as a form of salvation, as technological tools can hold the promise of rescuing use from the weaknesses of the human condition.[2] Recognizing this connection between technology and religious ideals and practices is important because it helps reveal why technology is often heavily critiqued by religious groups, as it can be seen as a competitor to faith in God.

Technology as shaping, or shaped by, culture

This religious connection made with technology is also grounded in the ideas that technology is a value-laden enterprise. Here technology is presented as a powerful force shaping human culture, because it is assumed that technology functions as an independent force, and so is driven by a distinctive value system that seeks to assert control over humanity. This perspective is sometimes referred to as ‘technological determinism’, where it is assumed that technology is all-powerful and has inherent anti-human, anti-Christian desires built into it. While it is true that technology can influence or direct culture in directions that can be a problem, this perspective is problematic because it essentially makes technology into an idol, by giving it god-like status. It is therefore important for us to recognize that the values of technology emerge not just from how they are intentionally designed or innovated, but also from the intentions and beliefs of the community of users that engage them. Therefore, technology possesses both the potential to serve as a tool of control or resources for liberation depending on whose hands it is in.

Theological Considerations about Technology 

Technology, then, is multifaceted, embracing a status as a tool or aid which enhances natural human abilities, as a particular set of knowledges and processes for producing tools and reshaping the world around us, and as the cultural values and relationships that drive the particular creation and use of tools and processes. Through the combination of all of those things, technology becomes the very environments in which our spiritual life is planted and in which that life then flourishes or withers.

The most significant obstacle facing Christian faith in an era driven by technology is the church’s challenge to traditional notions of the connection between knowledge, belief, and action. Christian theology and ethics are not simply a set of interpretations and moral principles derived from our doctrinal statements, but rather a comprehensive belief system that reveals the true nature of Creator and creation, as given in our creeds. In this regard, we can define technology as an inherent aspect of our human efforts relating to Creator, creation, and other creatures. This definition offers a way for the church, now and in the future, to tackle the complex issues surrounding technology in our society and in our churches.

Furthermore, the relational aspect and understanding of technology is in our human experience. Therefore, Christian responses to technology and media have tended to explore this in relation to the gathered Christian community, such as regarding the nature of faith, traditions, and worship, or in relation to wider society framed by things such as evangelism, mission, social ethics, and public theology. Within each of these orientations, and also in the overlap between them, technology and media are often categorized into simplistic categories of ‘good’, ‘bad’, and ‘morally neutral’. The reality, though, is that technology and Christian responses to it are often far more complicated, theologically, and ethically.[3]

For example, take the idea that technology is to be embraced as a positive force in all aspects of human existence through which we can feed people, alleviate suffering, enhance communications, and which God has given us to create material mercies in our everyday world. Thus, the people of God are called to embrace this and use it to proclaim the gospel to all parts of the world and act out love of our neighbour through the use of technology to improve the individual and communal human condition. In this view, technology becomes divinely ‘baptized’ and beyond critique with little thought to how we might do things differently or even without it.

Even if we have an overall positive view of technology, we might see some aspects of technology or particular examples and applications of technology in a more negative light. We might be more positive about information or agricultural technologies but less so about biomedical technologies. More narrowly, we might be positive about something like how information technology improves everyday life but concerned about how aspects of it, such as social media or surveillance, dehumanize, marginalize, or harm people. Those who are more negative about technology often stress its dehumanizing power, as well as it bringing further and newer problems as it attempts to solve old ones. More often than not, we might find ourselves oscillating between positive and negative positions or at times holding contradictory positions on technology at the same time.

Often Christians take a position that technology in itself is not good or bad, but rather it is the intention behind its use and the consequences of that use that convey moral value on technological agency. In this scenario technology might be thought of as value-neutral, with its use being driven by the human heart and mind. Classically, this might be seen with something like a hammer which positively could be used to build things, while negatively could be used to injure or kill someone. This kind of view can be helpful for asking how we might use a particular technology wisely and what values might underpin our use of technology but is less helpful for interrogating the values that might be embedded within particular technologies.

A better way to consider an improved relationship between technology and humans is to recognize that our technologies are value laden. That is, they exist and are used because of certain values and ways of seeing the world present in the human community that created the technology. These values shape what technologies to develop, the kinds of knowledge and processes used to make them, and the moral framework not just of their end use, but also how they shape and are shaped by the communities they are embedded in. Take language, for example, which is itself a form of technology, and which in some communities results in that language being codified in written, physically permanent forms like books, but in other communities is tied particularly to oral performance, skills, and knowledge. The values of a particular community then shape what is considered the appropriate use of the language and even the kind of language that develops.

As Christians we consider and display both how the values embedded in our Christian communities then shape the development and use of technologies, as well as those values shaping how we engage with the wider society at local and global levels. For that we turn to our understanding of God the Father as Creator, the teaching, ministry, and example of Jesus, and the influence of the Holy Spirit. We search the Scriptures, consider our individual and communal worship of God and reflection on our faith and life, listen to those most affected by our technological endeavours, and constructively engage with those with particular expertise we might not have ourselves. We look, then, not just to how economically productive our technologies are, but also how they are environmentally sustainable, socially just, individually fulfilling, and spiritually nurturing.  

When we consider our responses to human creativity, technology, and how we might wisely develop and use it, we do so first and foremost in relation to the Triune God, the Creator and Sustainer of all. We hold to the Christian assertion that God, the Father almighty, is the Creator of heaven and earth (Gen 1:1-2:25; John 1:1-4; Job 38-39; Col 1:15-23) and all creative activity in the world, including technology, is ultimately derived from him. We recognize that God is outside of creation and that he created it out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo), as well as continues his creative agency in and through this world according to His purposes (creatio continua) until the creation of the new heaven and the new earth.

To do this is to assert that the world and all that is in it is of value to God and that human beings were intentionally placed into this world because of God’s good purposes. Human beings’ creative agency, seen in the creation of things such as culture, language, technology, and communities, is intimately tied to individual and collective human vocation in the world. Human beings create, in part, because they are made in the image and likeness of a Creator God and called to represent God in the world (Gen 1:26-28; Ps 8). Technological development and the use of technology are tied to this human creative vocation, which is framed within the calling to use that vocation to love God and love neighbour.

Human creativity should not be equated with the creative agency of God though. Human beings are finite, created creatures who are morally and in essence different from the infinite, uncreated Triune God. Biblically, human beings can only make with what is present in our world, while God can create from nothing, as well as use the world for his purposes. Neither should we equate God’s redemptive creative agency with technological visions of salvation, for while God may work redemptively through human activity, salvation is God’s prerogative alone.

Human technological agency is also affected by sin and the ruptured relationships between human beings and God, between human beings, and between human beings and the wider world. We need to pay close attention to how individual, communal, and institutional self-interest and desire for power shape the development and use of technology.

Christian use and theology of technological agency should be Christological in nature, focusing on how the person and work of Jesus Christ inform and shape how and why we engage technology. This, in part, alerts us to the impact of sin upon our technological activity but also calls us to use technology wisely and well for the good of others and the glory of God. Again, Jesus’ teaching on worshipping God with all our being and loving not just our neighbours, but also our enemies, calls us to think deeply about how we and others use technology and the effects it has on others in the world and the world itself (Matt 5:43-48, 22:36-40, Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:25-27).

Jesus’ teaching gives us clear visions of what that might look like from proclaiming good news to the poor, freedom for those imprisoned or oppressed, and recovery of sight for the blind (Luke 4:18-19) to visions of the character to embody in our technological agency (Matt 5-7) and the need to align both belief and action in faithful praxis (Matt 25:31-46; echoed in James 2:14-26). The Christological lens lets us see how the biblical call to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) is worked out as we embody justice, mercy, and righteousness in our relationships and activities (Amos 5).

Moreover, a focus on Jesus Christ locates our technology within the vision of all of creation having been created through Christ, for Christ, and all holding together in Christ (Col 1:15-17). This understanding raises our eyes from the everyday technological world to an eschatological horizon that locates our hope in Jesus Christ, his return, and a kingdom vision of what is already present and what is to come that shapes our life in the present.

As we live out this vision in the world with our technology and its use, we should also be open and aware of the power of the Holy Spirit operating in ourselves, our communities, and across the world. An openness to the Spirit guiding and shaping our technological endeavours, ethics, and character, through biblical illumination, insight into the world, prayer, and communion with others. We should seek to let the character of our technological activity be shaped by the Spirit (Gal 5:22-26), our faithful technological agency to be empowered appropriately by the Spirit (1 Cor 12:1-11), to help us work as a diverse unity as the body of Christ (1 Cor 12: 12-31), and to remain focused on the call to love others in what we do with technology and how we do it (1 Cor 13) because if we fail to use our technological agency without faith, hope, and love then it will achieve the opposite of those things drawing people away from Christ, killing hope in a world that desperately needs it, and rupturing our relationships with people, with the world, and ultimately with God.

Technology and the Life of the Church 

With this framing of technology as multifaceted and the above outlined Christological orientation, we turn to technology in the life of the church. Throughout its history various technologies have been used to enhance the life of the church. For the most part, they have become part of the furniture, fading into the unnoticed background of church life, and are no longer even considered to be ‘technology’. Yet, beyond the immediate usage of technological artefacts, devices, and tools with their particular affordances, technology is the environment in which the church worships, disciples, and forms its community.


One aspect of the life of the church where technology has historically played a prominent role is in worship. Ultimately, worship ‘in Spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23-24) is a spiritual act; but because of the Christian affirmation of the body, it is never immaterial or disembodied. The implication of this is that material objects and therefore technology matter when we come to worship. 

As tools, technologies serve practical ends; church buildings provide spaces for gatherings, chairs enable participants to sit through services comfortably, and video projectors beam Bible passages and lyrics of songs onto screens for all to see. However, to some extent, such technologies also communicate something about the identity and nature of a church community. They often take on symbolic value that points beyond their mere utility. A church building is clearly an example of a technology that serves utilitarian ends; but at the same time, the very architecture and design (whether deliberately or not) communicates something about the identity and ecclesiology of the gathered community and the God that they worship. 

In some traditions, the role of technology in worship has been downplayed as something to be kept to a minimum; for others, technology has been understood as part of the embodied experience of the gospel and of the worshipers and, therefore, actively encouraged and deliberately used to enhance worship. The latter has tended to make more use of visual arts and aesthetics (as forms of media technology) to liturgically draw the gathering community’s attention towards God. Regardless of outlook, our practical experience tells us that technology does play some part in gathered worship, whether that be buildings, musical instruments, works of art, Bibles, or even language. We can even say that all worship is mediated through technology.[4] 

Further, whether intentional or unintentional, such technologies will continue in some ways and to varying degrees shape the acts of worship. Just as worship always transpires in a given cultural context that has a bearing upon it, so technology creates certain environments of worship. For example, the setup of a meeting hall or sanctuary can encourage passive consumption or active participation. It is therefore not surprising that the church has grappled and sometimes fought over the correct use of media technology in worship. A good example is the conflict over the use of the media technology of icons in the Byzantine Empire in the 8th to 9th centuries, as it gets to the heart of the matter. For the proponents, as windows into the divine, icons point beyond themselves. This position was legitimized on the grounds that through the incarnation the image of God has already been made materially visible to us. Those with an opposing view cited the prohibition of idolatry (Exod 20:4-6), fearing that works of art depicting God are idolatrous and risk becoming objects of worship. Many of the Reformers had similar reticence towards media technology as the Byzantine iconoclasts. In some parts of Europe, church murals were covered with white paint and ornaments and statues were removed or smashed. These were seen as distractions from true worship and even led to idolatry. 

Today, contentions over technology in worship are less violently fought but the issue of the rightful place of technology in worship is contentious. The underlying question that we need to ask ourselves is whether the technology, and the use thereof, is iconic in the sense that it directs the worshipper beyond itself towards God, or whether it is idolatrous in that it points to nothing but itself. For example, we might want to reflect on the widespread use of multimedia and advanced sound systems, and whether it merely panders to the global and ubiquitous entertainment culture or leads to worship and an encounter with the living God. Admittedly this is to some extent related to motivations and desires of the worshipper and worship leader and is therefore somewhat subjective.

More recently, the use of digital spaces for worship has been a source of deliberation. Because of the theological affirmation of the body, some church leaders and theologians question the validity of the worship in online spaces as these are viewed to be disembodied and artificial. A different viewpoint is that whilst it is important to reflect upon bodily experiences in relation to online worship rather than viewing it as disembodied, a more helpful approach is to reflect on how they differ from offline bodily experiences. After all, we fully rely on our senses and bodies when we engage online although we do so in different ways from when we worship offline. 


At a basic level discipleship involves the process of being shaped into the kind of person whose being and doing are consistent with the life and person of Christ. Such formation never happens in a vacuum as the concrete form it takes is deeply influenced by context, culture, language, and socio-political structures. Today, technology is increasing the context of discipleship. There might be times when our discipleship demands us to consider rejecting certain aspects of technological culture and specific artefacts. However, beyond the binary of rightful and wrongful uses, a more constructive approach is to reflect on how to live faithfully within or indwell the worlds that we create through technology.[5] 

Media scholars have suggested that dominant media technologies in history have correlated with significant cultural paradigms. An example that is often referred to is the impact of the printing press on Western culture which not only allowed for a greater distribution of literature but had a significant impact on how people think (epistemology), identified themselves (towards individualization), and changed how Christian faith was understood and practiced. In relation to discipleship, a greater emphasis was, for example, over time placed on individual devotional practices of reading the Bible amongst Protestant churches in the literary culture that emerged. 

In the West, theological reflection on technology has tended to point to the controlling and exploitative characteristic of the machines created in the wake of the industrial revolution in the attempt to subdue the forces of nature for human gain. Critics have suggested that this exploitative logic is not only seen in the operationality of technological artefacts but penetrates the structures of modern societies with its drive towards efficiency, measurability, productivity, and control.[6] For better or worse, we can to some extent find this ethos in the language of popular discipleship literature today. Theologians engaging in ethical reflection on technology have, however, tend to err towards caution and suggest that Christian faithful living requires practices of resistance in the age of the machine.

Today, digital media is having a significant bearing upon societies around the world. In terms of discipleship, there has been a proliferation of digital tools directly and indirectly aimed at discipling followers of Jesus. Prayer apps have encouraged daily prayer rhythms, podcasts have served to theologically inform, online forums have created spaces of fellowship and studies, the digitization of the Bible has made it more accessible and readily translated into minority languages. In many ways, such digitization marks a continuation of discipleship tools of the past and furthers the individualization of devotional practices seen since the invention of the printing press.

However, beyond such tools there are discernible cultural shifts that are transpiring in the wake of digitality that are important to consider in relation to discipleship. It should be noted that this impact manifests itself differently and unevenly from region to region, and that different platforms and artefacts have their own logic. Nevertheless, a defining feature of digital culture is captured in the metaphor of the network. If people in past generations were rooted in local and fairly homogeneous communities, in the network society people engage with multiple and different communities and groups that are to a lesser degree based on shared geography, and more upon shared interests and personal affinity. It is no exaggeration to suggest that the internet has hugely propelled this trend and it is difficult to see how it might be reversed in any meaningful way in the coming decades.[7] 

A major implication for discipleship is that Christians are today likely to be part of multiple groups and communities that provide spiritual nourishment and growth and not just the local church. On the downside, it is easy to see how a networked approach to community and discipleship could become consumeristic. The risk is that this panders to a self-oriented spirituality in which groups and communities are used to meet the individual’s own spiritual needs with little commitment or accountability. Such a consumerist attitude seems to be a far cry from the outward looking vision of discipleship—of loving God and neighbour—that Jesus advocated. It also neglects that discipleship is a collective effort that involves displaying and declaring the character of Christ together.

However, there is another way of looking at this. Many Christians are either living in societies that are largely secular or where the church is a minority community. In both cases the odds are stacked against faith. In order to sustain our faith, we need spiritual communities that do nourish us. In a networked society we have the possibility to enrich our spiritual lives by engaging with different resources and communities across the world with different spiritualities, styles and ways of worship. We also need to acknowledge that our individual make-up does differ from one person to another, and that God speaks to us in different ways. This is not a novel idea. Even some of the spiritual giants of the past, like the desert fathers and mothers who epitomize anti-consumerism, acknowledge this. It can also be seen in how Jesus engaged differently with different people in order to speak to their innermost being.[8] 

With this shift towards individual choice in digital culture, discipleship demands a greater degree of self-reflection, awareness, and discernment. It involves reflection on the formative impact of the spiritual contexts in which we find ourselves, deliberate participation in groups where people are different from us, and active contributions of service to our communities. 

For those in leadership of local churches, some adjustments might be needed in the face of digital culture. Amongst other things, discipling in a digital networked society suggests facilitation, curation of resources and teaching on digital literacy. In this cultural climate, the church should aspire to operate more like the open-source movement—in which everyone can contribute to the creation and improvement of software—than according to the logic of surveillance capitalism and the data driven economy of many of the tech giants. This means rather than seeing themselves as separate self-sustained entities building their own empires, local churches should view themselves as one node in a wider network participating and interacting with other churches and groups in order to contribute to the coding of the kingdom of God. It means more flexible structures and less hierarchical leadership models. It shifts the focus away from institutions towards people. Admittedly this does present challenges, not least since it to some extent entails a ‘letting go’ and raises questions of accountability. Nevertheless, such a networked discipleship is a great image of the kingdom of God in action. 

Community building

Christian worship and discipleship are inherently communal and relational. It is through sharing life in sacrifice, intercession, hospitality, and confession that people encounter the living Christ. Just as technology is an inevitable part of other aspects of the life of the church it is an aspect that shapes its fellowship. 

Historically, technology has been instrumental in maintaining the church universal by enabling relationships between geographically dispersed churches. Obvious examples from the early church include the road networks of the Roman Empire and Paul’s letter writing which were essential to creating a shared identity and theology across geographically dispersed communities. But technology has been important for local churches as well. We can here mention how buildings have throughout history created safe spaces for Christian communities to gather. 

Today, when such a large proportion of our communication transpires through different forms of digital media technology, care needs to be given to technologically mediated relationships and community. One of the major questions that the church has had to grapple with in recent years is what it means to be a gathered community on digital platforms. 

Digital technology is creating unprecedented possibilities for churches to connect across the world. This can serve to strengthen bonds, to create new friendships across continents, to enable the church to face global challenges together, and to learn from one another. Yet these positives need to be balanced with a recognition of the persistence of global power imbalances. There might be ways in which the interactiveness is democratizing, but nevertheless, it is still those with resources and financial backing that are likely to be heard.[9] 

The picture is more ambiguous in terms of the implications for local communities. It could be argued that the media ecology within network societies means that we become less rooted in local contexts. Nevertheless, it is not entirely bad news as digital media technology also presents opportunities for sustained fellowship. Messaging and social media platforms can, for instance, help maintain ongoing communication between members throughout the week for local Christian fellowship. One could dismiss such digital engagement as superficial and it may well be that the fellowship that we share with friends and family through social media is less conducive for fostering deep relationships. Nevertheless, it can arguably still be important in maintaining a wider community. It can give glimpses into the lives of people that we normally would not see. It can give opportunities to engage across generations and offer pastoral care and encouragement for those who are suffering. Such digitally mediated connections can therefore sustain relationships within communities in substantive ways and supplement rather than compete with offline fellowship.

This is not to deny that people forge deep and meaningful relationships through digital mediated communication, which for many has become a safe place to explore issues of faith.[10] We should also acknowledge that there are many contexts around the world in which the church is dependent on technology in order to gather all together. This accounts for Christians in locations where persecution severely diminishes the possibilities of local gatherings or where disabilities hinder individuals from accessing church buildings. We need to be careful about dismissing these as second-class churches. Focusing on the deficits of digital gatherings should further invite us to consider the extent to which the design of architectural technology may or may not encourage fellowship and different forms of embodiment in the geographically gathered community.

The experience of fellowship is in the end subjective and comes down to personalities and circumstances. For some, meeting on video-conference calls severely diminishes the experience of being together yet for others it is a more freeing environment where they are better able to participate. Demographics, theologies, and resources will further influence outcomes. 

This leads us to questions of technology and inclusion. Just as the liturgical use of technology can become a means or hindrance to encounter God, it can become a barrier that excludes or includes persons from the gathered community. As such, the introduction of new technological artefacts or mediums into Christian communities needs to be scrutinized through this lens. Who is absent or disadvantaged through the use of certain spaces and who is more engaged and present? In this regard are not always easy to make. The introduction of technological artefacts creates new possibilities but forecloses others. Thus, on the one hand, digitally mediated Christian gatherings may exclude those who have no access to devices, find data expensive and lack the necessary know-how. On the other hand, conducting a service in a church building requires the means to get to the building and buildings may not be accessible thereby excluding others. Such considerations are bound to continue into the future. Today, the digital divide is creating divisions between the haves and the have nots; tomorrow it might be a different technology that perpetuates inequalities. Yet, such issues are not secondary concerns in the life of the church. For the early church they were central to its deliberations. Paul, for example, rebuked the rich in Corinth for eating lavishly during communion while the poor went hungry (1 Cor 11:17-22). We need to work hard to enable participation in the global and local church in particular for those who are often marginalized. Technology will continue to be a central consideration in this endeavour.

Technology, Evangelism, and Mission 

From the Roman empire’s road network, to the printing press, modern mass media and, more recently, the digital, technology has been deeply intertwined with the spread of the gospel from the early church onwards. A quick overview of history also shows how the church has often found itself at the forefront of adopting new technologies. History shows us that the missionary spirit has, more often than not, been stronger than the voices of sceptics, and Christian communities have thereby been ‘early adopters’ of technology. What lies behind this openness towards innovation is a pragmatic and utilitarian disposition fuelled by a zeal to advance its evangelistic work.[11]

We argue that the conversation, however, needs to move beyond a mere utilitarian deployment of technology for evangelism and missions to also reflect deeply and judiciously about cultural and ethical considerations. The Lausanne Movement’s The Cape Town Commitment highlighted the need to be creative and yet at the same time critical in ‘engagement with media and technology as part of making the case for the truth of Christ’ (CTC 3). Not all examples of the historical use of technology and mission are positive. For example, in the era of colonial missions the gospel was partly enabled by lethal technologies of conquest such as swords, cannons, and rifles. The first Lausanne gathering called for a greater awareness of social responsibilities when engaging with evangelical activities (LC 5). Accordingly, in this section an ethical approach to applying technology to evangelism and mission will be proposed. 

Further, and as The Cape Town Commitment also affirms, Christians need to place themselves right in the thick of the landscape of contemporary media and technology to affect a positive Christian influence. As well as using technology responsibly such an engagement needs to consider technology as culture or environment. Just as missionaries have reflected on how to translate the gospel in different local cultural contexts, the different media environments invite similar patterns of missiological reflection. 

A people-centred evangelism

In general, evangelism must always be mindful of the relationship between evangelists and the people they reach.[12] Most commonly, evangelism happens through pre-existing relationships between a Christian and a non-Christian, whether that be a friend, family member, or acquaintance. But evangelism also occurs between strangers and often with the sole intent of outreach. In considering digital outreach and evangelism, we must be even more sensitive to the people who are being engaged.

Many early expressions of digital evangelism utilized technologies as tools to create and distribute content and were not entirely about nurturing relationships with faith seekers. While this is in part due to the static nature of Web 1.0 technologies, it could be seen as theologically-related to the Protestant emphasis on the bold proclamation of the Word of God, ‘wherever possible, in church and in public halls, on radio and television, and in the open air’ (MM 2). However, preaching of gospel truths must come hand-in-hand with the ‘struggle to relate it’ to the contexts that people find themselves within (MM 2).

We may consider, for instance, the rise of adaptive AI technologies like ChatGPT. Its instantaneous responses offer the alluring perception of an interactive and personable technology. It promises answers to the meaning of life and the ability to clarify abstract theological concepts. But at the same time, it reduces humans and the Christian message to data, statistics, and calculations. It strips away the person-to-person dimension of evangelism.

There is a place for the creation of digital resources for the spread of the gospel message to mass audiences. But we are reminded that ‘God the evangelist gives his people the privilege of being his ‘fellow workers’’ and that ‘he normally chooses to witness through us’ (MM 6). In digital evangelism, there needs to be a balance between the clear, compelling, and coherent delivery of the gospel message and nurturing authentic relationships.

Digital evangelism in global and local contexts

Digital evangelism should, further, be sensitive to the power dynamics enabled by digital technology. There is no culture or practice which should be considered normative.

In the past, Christian mission was perceived as unidirectional, that is, the Global North brought the gospel to the Global South. However, due to the changing flows of migration from the Majority World to Europe and North America, mission is increasingly seen as happening in the reverse.[13] Along with migration, the instantaneous nature of digital technologies has accelerated the multidirectional nature of Christian mission today. No longer can the Global North be seen as the primary provider of human, cultural, and financial resources for the task of mission.

Technology, indeed, brings opportunities for churches to spread the Word globally, but local communities are as important as global communities. The Manilla Manifesto affirms that faith should be lived out in local contexts (MM 6). Three dimensions should be considered in this regard: i) nurturing relationships with God and with people, ii) testifying to God, and iii) contextualizing in local communities. Those more adverse to digital technology tend to assume that communicating via technology is impersonal. To tackle this issue, the technology we use for evangelism should first consider nurturing relationships, both with God and with those who seek him, as already noted. This will be a paradigm shift in how we engage with technology, that we use technology not for the sake of technology, but for the people we serve; not to show off how tech-savvy the ministry leaders are, but to draw people closer to God. Bearing this in mind, while testifying to God can simply illustrate the gospel, it can also reflect the character that pleases God in all parts of life, including peaceful conversations online and creating content that edifies others. Thirdly, contextualizing the use of technology in local communities is important so the reached groups may experience God in their daily life and grow together in Christ (LC 9; MM 8). After all, technology is technology. Not all people like using technology to interact with others, and not all scenarios are suitable to use technology for evangelism. Pastoral leaders, lay people, as well as developers must be sensitive to what extent they employ technology in ministry; for example, people with disabilities may have different preferences on this because of the barriers they face in their daily activities (CTC 4). The key is to creatively bring the gospel with technology to those who seek him and not to hinder them from knowing God further.

Technology, evangelism, and contextualization

The demand to reflect on contextual approaches to technology in local contexts needs to be supplemented with contextual reflection on the cultures of technology. In this paper we have sought to highlight the need to go beyond a utilitarian application of technology for mission and ministry towards a culture paradigm of technology. If a utilitarian view of technology leads to questions about potential, effectiveness and limitations, a culture paradigm leads one towards missiological questions concerning faithful contextualization and inculturation. It suggests that the church needs to reflect on how to articulate and embody the gospel not only in digital spaces but also in a cultural condition increasingly shaped by the digital. This means striving to become conversant in digital spaces, understanding the logic of different platforms, each with their own microcosms, social conventions, and languages. Furthermore, increasingly the boundaries between online and offline engagements have been blurred in ways that complicate any sharp distinction. Digital mission is then not merely about activities that transpire on digital platforms through digital devices. The digital is today part of the wider matrix of culture making and transformation and this needs to be considered in our missiological reflections.

A missional approach to technology

It will be good to note how a robust teleology of technology highlights a key development in the Lausanne Movement: the recognition of a holistic, or more integral approach to mission. Spreading the Good News is understood to be an integrative dynamic of proclamation and demonstration (CTC 6). That is, evangelism and social action, while distinct pursuits, are intertwined Christian duties that reinforce each other in terms of providing a well-rounded gospel witness (LC 5).

This is a critical point to emphasize as the church finds its way into the world of digital technology with the hope of seeing the transformation that the gospel can bring forth. On the one hand, this means that the way Christians use and embed digital technology in their everyday life will have an impact on the Christian message they carry. But this also means that their engagement in designing and developing technology for the common good will serve as a very public expression of their conviction towards anticipating a better world.

This missional perspective reconfigures Christian mission beyond an ecclesiocentric orientation and clerical focus towards a more expansive paradigm that embraces the role of the whole people of God in the entirety of their lives as faithful disciples of Christ on a mission where they are. It affirms, for example, the immense potential of Christians working in the tech sector, IT industry, and the like, to contribute to the church’s evangelistic mandate—not as religious ministers of the gospel, but as ordinary people who can see the holy ministry involved in shaping the future of digital technology (MM 6). Whenever faith convictions are brought into how technology can be formed in ways that are more humane, this also brings to the world a vision of Jesus’ promise for ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10).

Assessing the use of technology for evangelism

As we have seen, technology is multifaceted, and we need to ask how Christians can judiciously use it for evangelistic purposes in ways that are concurrent with good news. We conclude this section by offering a few guiding principles for the use of technology in missions and evangelism.[14]

There must be accountability in relation to evangelism, involving two dimensions: the gospel and the people we reached. Since technology determines what kind of information we receive about the gospel online, developers as well as users who give input to accurate information need to be sensitive to what kind of knowledge we curate online. This can include the nature of the gospel itself and soteriology derived from one’s interpretation thereof. Accountability to the people can be understood as how we can protect the people we reach and ensure that we do not exploit their culture and attack their identity simply because they are non-Christians.

We ought to pursue both product transparency and process transparency. While product transparency enables the end users to understand the particular outcome of the product itself, process transparency considers the process of the design and implementation of the technological products. As technology evolves at an exponential rate, it is unhelpful to pinpoint how one should use certain devices or apps. For technology consumers, an ethical practice of using technology is to ask in what ways the engagement with technology points people to God, and not drive them away because of opacity. For developers, a good practice is to constantly reflect on the ways the medium and the tools are constructed to ensure both product and process transparency. In other words, developers who create certain algorithms and preset answers should aim at providing balanced views on the range of theological issues, such as around soteriology and ecclesiology. 

Technology and Christian Hope 

As mentioned in the last section, the Lausanne Movement holds together the importance of evangelism and the concern for ‘justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men from every kind of oppression’ (LC 5). Evangelicalism and social responsibility are both constituent parts of the Christian duty in this world, as is the Christian commitment ‘to urgent and prophetic ecological responsibility’ (CTC I.7.A). Hence, the Christian responsibility is not limited to the world to come, but includes personal, social, and ecological involvement in today’s technologically inflected world.

Technology and human potential

Human beings bear the image and likeness of God, with both potential and responsibility for our technological agency located in the world, and worked out intellectually, relationally, and spiritually in the world. Evangelicals have long been at the forefront of looking at ways that technology could be used to further the kingdom of God, from the use of print technology to mass produce Bibles and tracts, to the use of radio, television, and now the internet to disseminate sermons, devotionals, and evangelistic messages. In so doing, evangelicals have tended to underscore an instrumentalist approach to technology, looking at technology as primarily a tool to achieve kingdom purposes.

While humans have a wonderful potential to create and shape the cultures and societies we are part of, there is a risk of this outlook leading towards a form of triumphalism. This forgets the creatureliness of humans as created co-creators and valorizes technology as having infinite possibilities. Christians need to hold in tension the extremes of an instrumentalist view of technology with a determinist view, the latter suggesting that technologies are inherently connected to and impose themselves on human cultural values and societal structures. We see this quandary expressed in the letters of the Apostle John, who deliberated about technology, as he had ‘much to write,’ but would rather speak ‘face to face’ as opposed to using the tools of ‘paper and ink’ (2 John 12; 3 John 13–14). Furthermore, throughout history, technological changes have resulted in cultural changes, imposing themselves on the ways Christians worship God, whether by tambourine and lyre, pipe organs reverberating within neo-Gothic cathedral walls, or synthesized music and sermons that are recorded or live streamed.

It is often said that the internet is a great democratizing force, a tool that levels the playing field. Even more, for Christians, it may represent a new mission field, offering new ways to connect with people through instant messaging and social media, and a new public square for prophetic declarations. However, we often forget how technology is not as freely accessible as we may hope, or that ‘freedom’ comes with costs. The so-called ‘freedom of speech’ idealized by many Western democracies has led to cancel culture, and to online vitriol and bullying. Multinational corporations develop algorithms which commodify our personal data, search histories, and social media engagements to facilitate the sale of targeted advertisements. In many parts of the world, government actors look for ways to manage social cohesion, implementing censorship and surveillance software to turn on and off the Internet traffic at will or to block access to select content or websites. Such technologies should not be viewed as passive tools that are simply instrumentalized for the purposes of individuals, multinational corporations, or governments. These technologies also instrumentalize us, because they produce a culture of their own that we now must contend with. It is the humble recognition that humans do not have full control over the technologies they themselves create and utilize.

This tension between instrumentalist and determinist views of technology points to the theological point that humans are both created in the goodness of the imago Dei, but that this image is marred by the Fall and limited by a sinful nature. Human sinfulness is also translated into technologies in different ways. This is quite clear when technologies that are explicitly designed and crafted for good are used and abused for evil. The print technology so loved by Protestant Reformers and missionaries to mass produce the vernacular Bible and gospel tracts was also readily used to propagate anti-Christian messages. There are also cases where human biases are unexpectedly magnified by technologies. For instance, racist or sexist content created on the web are easily scraped by webcrawlers to produce datasets, which inform search engine results and AI machine learning that are discriminatory and derisive. It is not just humans who are affected by sin, but technologies—as designed, informed, and prejudiced by human activity—are likewise marred by the Fall.

An indirect consequence of technological advancements is the accentuation of digital divides. As we are increasingly dependent on faster processors and faster broadband connections, digital technologies expose hierarchies of resourcing, where some have the technological infrastructure for vibrant online presence and engagement, and others are left behind lacking access or the ability to use these same technologies. Jesus’s teachings about our inability to serve two masters, God and mammon (Matt 6:24; Lk 16:13), suggest it is not necessarily qualitatively better to be ‘digitally rich’ as opposed to being ‘digitally poor.’ It is the sober recognition of the idolatrous allure of such wealth. The increasing practice of taking a ‘digital fast’ for Lent or for a Sabbath rest, by unplugging from social media or limiting one’s internet use for a set period, recognizes the ways technologies are determinative on Christian spirituality and that being digitally rich is often a burdensome luxury. Even more, those who are digitally rich are reminded to ‘accept our duty to develop a simple lifestyle in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism’ (LC 9).

Technological wealth, in general, includes the acquisition of material goods. Such treasures on earth are connected to significant amounts of resource consumption, waste, and pollution. This is accentuated in digital technology since digital electronics become obsolete almost as quickly as they are acquired. The Lausanne Movement reminds Christians of the need to ‘repent of our part in the destruction, waste and pollution of the earth’s resources and our collusion in the toxic idolatry of consumerism’ (CTC I.7.A). Great advancements in technology come with tremendous ecological costs—often disproportionately ravaging and polluting Majority World contexts where precious resources are mined and new technologies are manufactured. The church cannot simply be passive participants in the devastation of God’s creation, for the sake of the next new gadget.

Living in the ‘already-but-not-yet’

Christian hope is ultimately found in a future glory through the consummation of the kingdom of God (Rom 8:18–30). This is far greater than the present sufferings in this world that is, as the Apostle Paul put it, under ‘bondage to decay.’ It is not only us, but all of creation (including, arguably, technological creation) that groans for this future reality. How does our eschatology shape our outlook of technology today?

For many, there is a strong continuity between the present and its trajectory towards the future. Some have made this case based on the Dutch Neo-Calvinist notions of the cultural mandate and common grace, which underscores the God-given command for humans to care and to cultivate the rest of creation. On this basis, Christians are to engage technology as a process of cultural development. Others draw on the theology of the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and see the internet as facilitating an evolutionary process towards an end goal of collective consciousness. To different degrees, these futurist orientations anticipate linear trajectories of development and civilization that build towards utopian futures. There are merits to some of this thinking, although we need to be careful not to render technology today as merely expendable artefacts used as a means to an end (times).

While Christian hope is found in the future glory, Christ has already inaugurated the kingdom of God in his first coming (Luke 17:20–21). It is a kingdom that is ‘already’ but ‘not yet.’ As René Padilla puts it, the kingdom ‘is God’s redemptive power released in history, bringing good news to the poor, freedom to prisoners, sight to the blind, and liberation to the oppressed.’[15] This eschatological inbreaking into the present calls Christians today to work with God, thoughtfully and prayerfully, towards a redemptive engagement of this technologically inflected world. This means that human participation in God’s redemptive work through technology can be God-honouring, in and of itself. In so doing, Christians bring about the aroma of Christ in this world (2 Cor 2:14–16).

Christians must seek out ways that technology may bring about hope. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the switch to online church was seen as burdensome to many. In several contexts, churches took to the courts to argue against the legality of lockdown measures that forced them to mainly exist online. Whatever one’s position may have been on this matter, the digital option challenged the normativity of being physically present. This, however, overlooked those who have historically had trouble crossing the threshold into the physical church building. The reality is that, before and after the pandemic, digital technologies give those with acute illness or disabilities a chance to participate in the life of the body of believers, albeit through digital means. While for some, the online church was seen as a burden; but for homebound individuals, it was a source of hope.

Participating in God’s redemptive work with technology is challenging because of the way different technologies can feed our desires. Kate Ott puts it poignantly, ‘[w]hen our engagement with digital technologies stays on the level of consumption, we are more susceptible to promoting corporate interests rather than Christian ethical commitments. Thinking theologically with and about digital technology pushes us to find language within the Christian tradition to respond to new challenges and circumstances.’[16] Only then are we able to beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isa 2:3–4), and consciously draw out expressions of hopeful technology.

Concluding Comments

At the moment of writing, we are in the throes of the next iteration of the digital revolution. Whilst AI applications have for years been widely implemented, the recent development within generative AI, such as ChatGPT, has elucidated just how powerful this technology is. The latest versions of this technology have stirred us, provoking reactions ranging from utopian hopes of prosperity and longevity, to fears of dystopian apocalypse and the end of the human race. For better or worse, the reality is that this technology is profoundly altering our societies. 

The development of AI highlights the urgent demand for the kind of reflection that we have sought to demonstrate in this paper. A central argument that we have advanced is that whether we use the technology or not, its wider societal, cultural, and spiritual ramifications cannot be ignored. Whilst we need to encourage the church to explore the affordances of technological tools, the key question is how do we live faithfully and missionally in a technological world. 

The pace of innovation makes this task particularly challenging. To fully understand and research the social, cultural, and theological implications of new technology takes time. Yet we cannot simply stand by as onlookers or passive consumers—the impact of technology in contemporary society is far too great. In collaboration between churches, para-church organizations, academia and the industry, a concerted effort of the global church to innovate, to research and to teach is paramount.

With all said, as the church dives even deeper into digitalization, we ought to heed the reminder that the heart of mission is to pursue the Divine Giver of this mission—God himself: ‘if we are to properly observe Missio Dei in the digital age, we need to focus more on God than on the digital.’[17]

Doxology: A Prayer for a Technological World

Lord God, you are the maker of the heavens and earth

and of all that is in them, seen and unseen.

In this world you placed us, according to your loving purposes

and instilled in us the desires and skills to also make and create.

Yet our technologies are beset with our human strengths and weaknesses

filling us with both wondrous awe and deep anxiousness.

Lord, let us always use our technological skills in the loving service of you,

and through that service seek the wellbeing of our neighbours.

Let the skills and knowledge we develop be tempered by faith, hope, and love,

not driven by pride, self-interest, and idols that turn our faces away from you, Lord.

Teach us to use our technology with patience, kindness, humility, and truthfulness

being slow to anger and not delighting in the suffering of others.

Remind us, Lord, that these human things will ultimately pass away

and that which remains will be grounded in your love and hope.

Draw our eyes to the future your hope provides,

of a world redeemed and ordered by your power, love, and grace.

Let that vision shape all our creative activities in every aspect of our lives

leading us to wise, ethical agency in the service of your kingdom.

In all our technological endeavours may we continue to worship and glorify you, Lord

And, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be present in all our works for the glory of your name and your kingdom now and forever more.


Theology and Technology Resources

A list of potential resources to inform general engagement with technology from theological perspectives.

  • Barbour, Ian G. Ethics in an Age of Technology: The Gifford Lectures 1989-1991. Volume 2. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1993.
  • Campbell, Heidi, Editor. Digital Ecclesiology: A Global Conversation. Texas: Digital Religion Publication, 2020. DigitalEcclesiology2020.pdf (tamu.edu)
  • Campbell, Heidi, and Stephen Garner. Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in Digital Culture. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016.
  • Campbell, Heidi. and John Dyer, Editors. Ecclesiology for a Digital Church, London: SCM, 2022.
  • Chow, Alexander. ‘What has Jerusalem to do with the Internet? World Christianity and Digital Culture.’ International Bulletin of Mission Research 47. No 1 (January 2023): 23–31. DOI: 10.1177/23969393221101349.
  • Dyer, John. From the Garden to the City: The Place of Technology in the Story of God. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2022.
  • Dyer, John. People of the Screen: How Evangelicals Created the Digital Bible and How It Shapes Their Reading of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023).
  • Garner, Stephen. ‘Co-Creating as Appropriate Technology’. Thought Matters: The Journal of The Salvation Army Tri-Territorial Theological Forum 8 (2019): 85–94.
  • Kurlberg, Jonas, and Peter M. Phillips, Editors. Missio Dei in a Digital Age. London: SCM, 2020.
  • Monsma, Stephen V. Responsible Technology: A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.
  • Ott, Kate. Christian Ethics for a Digital Society. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019.
  • Russell, Robert J. ‘Five Attitudes toward Nature and Technology from a Christian Perspective’. Theology and Science 1. No. 2 (October 2003): 149–59. DOI: 10.1080/1474670032000124568.
  • Wyatt, John, and Stephen N. Williams, Editors. The Robot Will See You Now: Artificial Intelligence and the Christian Faith. London: SPCK, 2021.

Church Statements

  1. For a fuller account on the church and digital technology, see Jonas Kurlberg, Nam Vo and Sara Afshari, ‘Being Church in a Digital Age’, Lausanne Occasional Papers, 2022.
  2. Martin Heidegger, ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ in David Farrell Krell (ed.), Basic Writings: Martin Heidegger (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010).
  3. It should be noted that the majority of such studies are produced in the Global North.
  4. See Susan White, Christian Worship and Technological Change (Oxford: Abingdon Press, 1994).
  5. See Elaine Graham, ‘Being, making and imagining: Toward a practical theology of technology’, Culture and Religion 10, No. 2 (2009): 221–36.
  6. For example Albert Borgmann, Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2003); Brian Brock, Christian Ethics in a Technological Age (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010); Craig Gay, Modern Technology and the Human Future: A Christian Appraisal (Downers Grove: IVP, 2018); Ivan Illiich, The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich as Told by David Cayley (Toronto: Anansi, 2005); Kosuke Koyama, Water Buffalo Theology (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1999 [1974]).
  7. See Heidi Campbell and Stephen Garner, Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in Digital Culture (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016).
  8. We could cite the example of Jesus’ acceptance of tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10) versus his seemingly stern message to the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18–30).
  9. See Jonas Kurlberg and Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, ‘Inclusion in a Networked Society: Digital Theological Perspectives’, in Nina Kurlberg and Madleina Daehnhardt, eds., Theologies and Practices of Inclusion (London: SCM Press, 2021).
  10. Tim Hutchings’ ethnographic study suggests most of the members of online Christian communities also attend local churches. Tim Hutchings, Creating Church Online: Ritual, Community and New Media (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).
  11. Susan George, Religion and Technology in the 21st Century (London: Information Science Publishing, 2006), 103. Alexander Chow and Jonas Kurlberg observe that ‘churches which are more evangelically-oriented—or, better, evangelistically-oriented, tend to be more keen to employ digital technologies in their engagement and mission with the broader society and world.’ Alexander Chow and Jonas Kurlberg, ‘Two or Three Gathered Online: Asian and European Responses to COVID-19 and the Digital Church’, Studies in World Christianity 26, no. 3 (November 2020): 303.
  12. See Andrew Feng, ed., ‘The State of Digital Technologies for the Great Commission’, Indigitous (2022), 10–13, available online at https://indigitous.org/projects/state-of-digital-technologies/
  13. Israel Oluwole Olofinjana, ‘Reverse Mission: Towards an African British Theology’, Transformation 37, no. 1 (2020): 52–65; Rebecca Y. Kim, ‘Korean Missionaries: Preaching the Gospel to ‘All Nations,’ including the United States’, in Religion on the Move! New Dynamics of Religious Expansion in a Globalizing World, edited by Afe Adogame and Shobana Shankar (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 179–202.
  14. This subsection draws on the work of Michael Burdett, who proposed four aspects of ethical response to AI: fairness, accountability, sustainability, and transparency. Not all of these are as important to technology, generally speaking, so we focus on two of these that seem particularly relevant: accountability and transparency. Michael S. Burdett, ‘Proximate and Ultimate Concerns in Christian Ethical Responses to Artificial Intelligence’, Studies in Christian Ethics (2023): 1–22.
  15. C. René Padilla, Mission Between the Times, rev. ed. (Carlisle: Langham Monographs, 2013), 209. See also Kate Ott, ‘New Creation and Digital Society’, in The Routledge Companion to Christian Ethics, edited by D. Stephen Long and Rebekah L. Miles (New York: Routledge, 2023), 509–20.
  16. Kate Ott, Christian Ethics for a Digital Society (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), 142.
  17. Peter M. Phillips, ‘Conclusion’, in Jonas Kurlberg and Peter M. Phillips, Missio Dei in a Digital Age (London: SCM Press, 2020), 267.