Steve Perky Weekly Focus 2019.w.10

Digital Discipleship is a key part of my calling in vocational ministry. I enjoy discovering the new technologies that are constantly being introduced to the world. The lens through which I examine these new and evolving technologies leads me to examine how congregations can leverage these technologies to create spaces where people can discover and develop a passion for God that is real, relevant, and relational. It is not about the technologies but leveraging these tools to make disciples in today's tech driven culture.

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday on the Christian calendar. It marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days leading up Easter. Often referred to as the Journey to the Cross, Lent helps disciples join Jesus in the wilderness on the journey He took as He prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross. Thankfully it leads to His victorious resurrection on what we now call Easter Sunday. Lent is a time to intentionally focus on a deeper relationship with God by eliminating distractions or things that are hindering a closer walk with Him.

So what does this have to do with digital discipleship? For me it all goes back to my word for the year: intentional. As I have been reading through the book Atomic Habits and learning more of the science behind how habits, good and bad, affect our lives, I am reminded that the way we structure our days and our environments has a profound impact on the habits we form and foster.

For example, how I structure the micro environment of my digital spaces such as my smartphone and tablet determine the path of least resistance on how I spend my time. It so happens last weekend I had to refresh my phone to factory settings to clear all the digital clutter and make it run faster. It works great now. I was able to restore the data and apps to my phone, but it required me to go through the process of setting up this digital micro environment. How do I want, I mean need, to organize the screens for productivity and not distraction? What apps had been luring me like sirens into a mindless time-wasting abyss?

In the name of researching digital discipleship and understanding our digital culture better, I can justify in my mind spending time on a lot of these. Don't we all do that? Don't we have the tendency to work at justifying how we spend our time even if we go past the point of actual benefit?

This year my wife and I decided to attend an Ash Wednesday service at an Episcopal church. This service was much more liturgical than our normal services these days. It was refreshing to be in a church building hundreds of years old designed as an environment where there were no large screens. The only technology was electricity, HVAC, lights, and sound system. Oh, and paper. They had intentionally tried to eliminate the distractions of life by including all the Scriptures, hymns, and liturgy in the printed program. It has been awhile since I was in an environment so intentional that I didn't dare pull out my phone to access the Bible app. It was refreshing.

So, am I saying we need to make a stand against digital devices and lead people to only read a printed copy of the Bible? Not at all.

The lesson I am learning and would challenge the Church to lead people to is the intentional structuring of our spaces, both physical and digital. Like water and lightening, we all tend to follow the path of least resistance. The intentional structuring of our spaces can help ensure these paths of least resistance are leading us on an intentional discipleship path where mindless distractions have a higher degree of resistance for us. During Lent I have removed social media apps from my phone and turned off notifications for email during non-work hours. A friend and co-worker has helped organize my office to eliminate stress and distraction. My wife is great at building intentional micro environments in our home that are free from clutter and distractions.

My goal is to prevent being drawn into an endless path of attention residue that removes my focus from being intentional on my journey.

Lenten Verses of the Week

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:10-12 NIV 
Read all of Psalm 51:1-19 here.

Steve Perky

The Weekly Focus is a summary of what I am reading, listening to, discovering, and learning this week. These include some of my thoughts and ideas around life, ministry, technology, culture, leadership, strategy, and communications. I pray these thoughts will help us all be better people, spouses, leaders, and learners as we live intentionally in our converged digital/physical daily lives.

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