technology, youth ministry, student ministry, ministry challenges, ministry obstacles

The Ups and Downs of Technology

By Doug Franklin May 22, 2014


People transform people. Tech toys and TV can’t change someone like a great mentor can. Social media is powerful, but not as powerful as a mature believer sitting down with a teachable young leader and pouring his or her life into them. In my life, the greatest satisfaction comes from having a vulnerable relationship with another person who is like-minded. If this is true, how do we build stronger relationships?

Discover other people. We have to be masters at the art of asking questions, open-ended ones that make people think and uncover something about themselves. These questions unlock personality, values, and secrets. When a question is asked properly, people will want to open their heart and tell you things they have never told someone before.

Never measure. Often in relationships we measure ourselves against others. We look at the other person and want what they have, or we value the other person based on what their possessions. Relationships work best when both people see value in each other and themselves. God has given us all amazing gifts. Be happy with yours.

Confess. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” There is something special about telling someone your shortcomings. It releases guilt and allows us to say to each other, “I have been there, and I know what you’re going through.” In this moment, relationship is at its finest.

The good news is, technology can actually help build relationships, if used properly. Here are a few ways tech can actually cultivate deep, personal, embodied relationships:

An introduction. If the bulk of your communication is based on texts, tweets, or Facebook messages, you’re probably missing out on the nuance that deep relationships require. But these types of communication are great ways to meet new people or nudge people into in-person meetings.

Long distance. It’s sad, but true: you won’t have the time or energy for hour-long phone calls with every person who moves out of your life. But nothing helps you stay in touch quite like a social media connection. Pictures, updates, and a comment here or there can keep relationships that would have fizzled under different circumstances fresh and active.

Prayer and prayer requests. While nothing can replace the visceral comfort of holding someone’s hand, smart phones and social media have made it easier than ever to ask for and offer prayer. When a family member is sick, ask your online friends and followers for healing prayer, not because you prefer online invocations, but because it’s a quick and simple way to inform people who care. And I’ve been surprised by the comfort I’ve felt from the occasional buzz from a text message that simply says, “You’re in my prayers today.”

Technology can distract from physical interaction if we let it. But it can also fill in the gaps between those interactions, supplementing and complementing face-to-face relationships in unique ways.


About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More