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Technology And My Church
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By Richard Stephenson
 
The Southern Union ITS team include Milton Sand (seated, left), associate director; Leonard Fernandez, support engineer; Richard Stephenson (seated, right), director; and David Koliadko, accounting support engineer.


Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already,” Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis.
“Christ Himself set an example of true service. His whole life on Earth was spent in ministering to others,” How God’s Love is Manifested, Ellen G. White.

Stewardship and service may not be the first things you think of when you think of information technology (IT). Yet, the very heart of IT in the Church, the essence of what we do, the ministry that we have been called to, should be summed up in these two words — stewardship and service. I would like to briefly explore the link between stewardship and service, and to, perhaps, realize the co-dependent relationship that both stewardship and service have to one another. A startling Scripture is found in the Old Testament book of Malachi 3:17, 18. I believe this passage ties together stewardship and service. It is God speaking in Malachi, saying: “They shall be mine, says the LORD of Hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”
Wow! There is so much for us to explore inside these two verses. (Isn’t that true with all of Scripture?) Firstly, what an incredible revelation of just how the Omnipotent Ruler of the universe, the Sovereign King of all creation, feels about you and me. Remarkably, God refers to us when he says “MY treasured possession”! Sometimes we may just read right past that, but it is crucial to our understanding of stewardship. We are God’s property, His treasured possession. Perhaps this is what C.S. Lewis is referring to when he says, “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.” We are God’s possession not only because He created each of us, but also because He redeemed each of us. We belong to God, twice over!

We are reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 says, “You are NOT your own; for you were bought with a Price!” And again, we are told plainly in 1 Corinthians 3:23, “You belong to Christ.” This is the heart and soul of stewardship, understanding that who we are, all we are, and all we have is God’s first. Therefore, any identity, talent, gift, or ability, and really any inclination to do good at all, was first His before He entrusted it to us. Do we really understand this? We are on loan from God, to serve God by serving others.
 
The Southern Union Welcomes... Jermaine Alexander, current IT director for the South Central Conference, will join the Southern Union Information Technology Services team on August 1, 2017, as the assistant director of IT Services. The Southern Union is thrilled to have Jermaine join the team. His primary responsibilities will include support to the conferences and academies. Jermaine has an obvious, contagious passion for serving the Lord, and his experience in directing the IT Department at South Central will be a real asset as he transitions to serving the broader field. Welcome, Jermaine and Kamilah, to the Southern Union family!
In the parable of the talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30, we find that God richly rewards those faithful stewards who managed His resources according to His Will, with ever-greater responsibility. The clear take-away from Christ’s Words is that we will all be judged, and our performance as managers of His stuff will be judged, by our faithfulness as stewards. In Matthew 25, the reward for both faithful stewards was the same. God doubled their respective areas of responsibility. Moreover, the consequence of unfaithful stewardship is equally impactful. The unfaithful manager lost all of his stewardship responsibilities and was cast out. Sobering indeed! God’s expectations for our stewardship of His resources is indeed high. Are we faithful to His expectations of our stewardship? Our stewardship to God involves more than just our finances; it involves our total being. As IT in the Church, our stewardship must begin and end with the realization that every asset, every piece of equipment we manage, is first and foremost a tool to be used for the Gospel. We are not just supporting the operations of an organization; we are the hands and feet of Christ in an ever-increasingly digital age. Back to Malachi 3, we find a distinction (the distinction?) that will exist when Christ comes to collect His treasured possession — us. Did you catch the distinction? Here it is again “… Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”

I find this revelation incredible! The distinction between the righteous and the wicked will be the same as the distinction between those who serve God and those who do not serve Him! Service is the distinction, service is the difference! Could it really be true that we will be judged by our service to God and others?

But, what is the connection between service to God, and service to others? Christ, in His own words, tells us that service to God is synonymous with service to others. We find in Matthew25:36-40, “I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.’”
Could Christ have said it any plainer? Our service to others is, in fact, our service to God. Still in Matthew, Christ removes any doubt about service when He says in chapter 20 verse 26, “Whoever wants to become Great, let him become a servant.” If there is to be anything “great” about us, brothers and sisters, may it be our service to our fellow man.

So we find in that one passage of Malachi, I believe, the two tenets of IT in the Church: stewardship and service. I believe that faithful stewardship and service to others will always be found together. They are two sides of the same coin. If we are faithful stewards, then we will understand that not only do we belong to God, but that our brothers and sisters also belong to God. And, if we understand that, then we understand that service to God is, in fact, serving God’s children. Again, by serving others, we serve God. We see that the apostle Paul echoes this reality in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ that you are serving.”
IT work in our Church today must be about stewardship and service. We are stewards of technical resources … resources that the Lord expects us to use in His service, for His Glory. Together with the volunteer audiovisual and IT person at your local church, with the IT staffs at our schools, with the IT directors at our academies, and with the IT departments at our conferences, we in IT, corporately, serve by providing the Church with resources, tools, and techniques. We serve our pastors, our teachers, our support staff, our churches, our schools, our conferences, and our administrators by seeking to enable them to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. We most often work behind the scenes, stewarding and serving. Our desire is to help empower and enrich the Gospel through the resources we have been entrusted with. We are not unlike medics serving just behind the front lines, running from fire to fire, helping to resolve whatever challenge that may arise. This is the work that God has called IT in the Southern Union to accomplish. As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I would ask youn to please pray for all of the support staff within this Church. Pray that we are faithful in our duties as stewards and servants. Pray that we may join you on that great and mighty day when God says to His stewards, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter thou into the Joy of your Lord,” Matthew 25:21.




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