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Looking into 2018 and beyond.

Last week, I was at my church participating in the Filipino praise service. The church is in a city of 50,000 in Southern California with no majority ethnicity. Whites make up 20% the population but are mostly Hispanic (Portuguese), Asians consist 60% more divided amongst Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Indian, Japanese and Vietnamese. African Americans also make up equal numbers as the largest Asian populations. I share this because our church has four congregations, including Chinese, Filipino, Punjabi and English Speaking. We share a border with a large Korean church, where we have had a few joint projects including VBS, Trunk or Treat and Angel Tree.

I do see elements within this church what churches will have to address for the future. Our staff meetings are done via Skype. We also have a Skype Bible Study and a Skype Prayer Meeting. We still have a traditional Prayer meeting as well as other meetings at the church throughout the week. What I wanted to share was something that hit me during the Filipino Praise Service.

I watched as about 100 people joined together in worship. One member had commented that they were wondering how many people would show up to the event. I learned later people had come from up to 2 hours away to join in. However, this is not what struck me as unique. During the service, which was mostly singing and praying, I saw at least four different people with their cell phones out and doing a Facebook live event. Hmmm. I realized the reach was not merely the people within the service at that moment, it was all the members of the church and friends of members who were watching through Facebook.

I had a flashback to Hunger Games, where they were televising to the world in a studio. This is nothing new in church, churches have a video feed on their website of previous sermons and the like, but I know this is new for it is not merely people connected to the church, rather the church members. All the people who are connected to my Facebook and to the three others who were also on Facebook had access to the service. THIS is revolutionary. It was all my connections in Kenya and around the world who saw parts of the service that they could never attend being a part of this service.

I then wondered what the reach of this service would be if all the people who had Facebook had a feed going. What if we purposefully incorporated multiple feeds into our service? There were some negative aspects of this live feed. I had to focus on the camera and not on my own worship experience. Actually, it was more like going back and forth between the video and my personal worship. But, couldn't we have stands available for people who wanted to share, like the slots for the communion cup that is available on most pews. Could we allow our members tweet their reactions to their friends? What about Augmented Reality? (Type TED TALKS Virtual Reality in any search engine) The possibilities are limitless.

Yes, I know. Some of you wonder what the losses would be like. I would encourage you to read "What Technology Wants." It's a good book that critiques new technology. Because of this, I would love for us to discuss all the pros and cons of this new technology. We will also discuss this more at our next summit in Orlando.

Thanks for reading.

James Cho

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