A congregation of the United Church of Canada
November 23, 2022
It was not a good 36 hours for tech. If you participated in worship with us this past Sunday, you got to experience it firsthand. Today’s technology is actually very simple to use. Usually you just have to click a button and everything works. The challenge is when something goes amiss. Operating the tech may be easy but troubleshooting any problems is crazy-making. Of course, it doesn’t help when you’re under a time constraint – which is the only times these things seem to happen. On Sunday we had a power glitch, which shut off the sanctuary computer, the sound, the video screens, and interrupted the livestream. Once we got power back the computer had to be restarted (easy) and the livestream had to be reconnected (not so easy). Eventually we got something working, but it helped to demonstrate an emerging value for us.
Then the next night at our church Council meeting technical difficulties struck again. Our hybrid approach of having some people in the room and some people on Zoom looked fantastic. It just didn’t sound fantastic. It didn’t sound like anything. Silence. Yikes! Let the troubleshooting begin again. We checked all the wires, all the connections, but everything looked fine. It should have worked. Nope. Then the immortal words of tech dawned on us: “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?” It is remarkable how many times that strategy works – and it worked for us on Monday, and our meeting was able to begin, only 25 (frustrating) minutes late.
Two things I want us to ‘notice’ here. One is that a new ‘value’ has emerged for us. It’s this: online participants are equally important to our gatherings, just like in-person folks are. We don’t just do things in-person that can also be shared with someone online. We do things – worship, meetings, gatherings – in a truly hybrid way that strives to leave no one behind. On Sunday we were recording the worship service in case we couldn’t get our stream back, so online folks could access it later. Not ideal, but not left out. And we would not have proceeded with our meeting on Monday night if we had to leave half our Council behind.
The other thing I’d have us notice is the strategy that fixed the tech issues both times. Powering down, and then powering back up. But it works for more than just technical difficulties. It’s good for us humans too! When you’re overwhelmed, and no matter what you try things just aren’t going your way or working the way you expect, try turning yourself off for a short time, and then power back up and have a fresh start. Maybe that would be a nap? Or a walk in the fresh air? Or a change in scenery? Or an hour of doing your favourite thing? Gritting your teeth and powering through is not usually the best strategy. A ‘restart’ can clear a brain – both a machine’s and yours! Is this a particularly ‘spiritual’ insight? Absolutely! It’s called Sabbath – and you can find it on page one.
(Note – due to Friday’s ‘Family Fun Night’ and a funeral on Saturday I will be working from home on Thursday rather than at church.)