Analog and Digital

Many people talk about the differences in being a "digital native" and a "digital immigrant". This difference is more than just how savvy one is with technology but seems to speak to a way of viewing and engaging the world.

In the style of Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a digital immigrant if you are giving directions to a location rather than just giving a physical address - you might be a digital immigrant. Or if you print out emails - you might be a digital immigrant. 

Digital native/immigrant language is not very helpful to me because it seems to categorize people by age. If you are less than 35 years old, you are a digital native. Older than that and you are an immigrant. But being a native or immigrant has little to do with age and more to do with worldview. 

I have met a number of young people who are savvy with technology and yet think very analogically at the same time I have met much older people who do not know snot about technology but think much more digitally. 

To this end, I find it helpful to talk about digital thinking and analog thinking.

This is not an essay on the full definitions of analog and digital thinking, but one point of divergence seems to be rooted in how each thinker deals with change.

There are a great number of people who identify the church needs to change - it is the nature of that change that  is the point of tension. Analog-ers want the church to change by just being better at what we are doing. We need to be better teachers - so we try to use video and twitter while preaching. We need to be better at selling ourselves - so we get involved with every social media we can imagine. We need to be better at managing the money - so we higher consultants to help with a stewardship campaign.

On the other hand, there are the digital thinkers who also identify the church needs to change, but not in the same way. The church does not need to just do what we are doing only better, but we need to do things differently. We need to change the way we preach not just do it better. We do not need to be better signs but build better people. Stewardship campaigns are no longer serving the purpose of helping people be better stewards, rather they are pledge drives with Jesus language. 

Analog thinking leads to a place where we build church buildings because we want the church to be around forever. Digital thinking leads to a place where we build the kingdom because we know the church is not what we are called to build.

These are just some basic thoughts that are not original and others around the world have already pointed out that how we address change is not generational but more worldview specific. It is the job of the digital thinkers to learn how the analog thinkers address change because it is the digital thinkers who are calling into question the sustainability of the current systems.

Quick question - do you think the church needs to be better (more efficient, greater communication, etc.) or do you think the church needs to be different (new language, different focus, etc.)?