David, I’d like to start with a brief bio – tell us a little about yourself and your family…
I have been married to my awesome wife for 12 years and we have 3 wonderful children, Emily 16, Kaylee 10, and Evan 8. We belong to Lenexa Baptist Church and have been attending regularly for about 8 years. I have been in the technology field for over 25 years. I have worked in all aspects of the IT field, from the help desk to IT Director. My current role is Director of IT for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am going on my 3rd year with MBTS.
You work in a world of technology at an institution that is passionately “For the Church.” How do you connect your tech role with ministry?
I feel as though God has me in this role to help those who are struggling and frustrated due to technology related issues. I see this as an opportunity to show God’s love and to witness to those around me. When someone comes to IT, people generally are not contacting me for something positive, but rather when they have a problem that needs to be solved. I always believe there are two ways to look at it, positive or negative, and I choose to take a positive approach to problem solving so the client has the best experience possible. I see this as an opportunity to serve. 1Cor 10:31 - "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Help us out - How best should pastors apply technology in their congregations and personal lives?
Never before has technology been in a state of accelerated growth and advancement. This is both troubling and uplifting at the same time. Troubling in the context of material and ease of which to obtain it, uplifting on how many can be reached and by the ease and means of doing so. Pastors should embrace technology as a tool and means to convey the good news to others. I also feel that pastors should be aware of the need for tools to protect themselves from the troubling side of technology, to use them, and to share them with their congregations. I believe individuals in the church, especially parents, are searching for reliable safety features to compliment the advancement of technology.
Should Christian parents be encouraging their kids to pursue careers in technology?
Yes, absolutely! Christian parents should encourage the technology fields as a means of a potential career. Every component in our society will be touched by technology to some degree. Going forward, this is only going to increase and we need good, strong Christian young people driving that force to reach as many as possible for God’s glory. The stronger our force, the greater the development of tools and available communication will be, as well the ability to spread the Gospel.
What are the biggest dangers in the tech world today?
As mentioned previously, access is truly the number one danger in our world today. Never before have we been so challenged in protecting our core Christian values and beliefs. Pornography is literally everywhere and freely accessible with very little effort via technology. Predators can use the same tools to manipulate and trick our kids by hiding behind masked identities and or expose them to inappropriate material. We truly live in a very dangerous time in terms of technology but at the same time never before with such an opportunity to utilize it in a positive and meaningful way as well.
What safeguards should pastors and thought leaders be placing in their lives to avoid these dangers?
Personally, I have chosen to use layers of safeguards in the use of technology for myself and my family. I would suggest pastors and others to do the same.
- First of all, accountability and transparency are crucial to safeguarding one’s life in this area. It is also helpful to understand that there are ways to protect one’s self. I believe with the ease of access, if someone wants to access something, they will find a way, however, there are multiple programs that we can utilize for ensuring accountability of sites and content accessed.
- For leaders, I believe that every single one should have a strong accountability partner who is willing to monitor access thru data logs and reports followed by discussions on a regular basis and have the full freedom to question them. Simply asking someone how they are doing in this area is not enough.
- I believe everyone should have programs installed for internet safety and restricting sites. For church leaders, I would even take it one step further and have committees or teams to facilitate and ensure that these programs are installed and up to date, and that accountability takes place and isn’t an afterthought. Too many great pastors have succumbed to Satan and his temptations. I have had the very unfortunate experience of witnessing this personally.
On a more personal level, what do you do to help your family live with the ubiquity of tech in the 21st century?
It’s all part of the layers I mentioned before.
- First of all, my wife and I have tried to instill core values in our children. We also use examples from the media and have conversations about how to handle certain situations. We also discuss “what if” scenarios.
- From a technology front, I use gateway and filtering devices to block out the unwanted content, but as with any filter, there are items that can get thru. The key is to know how to handle those situations and ensuring the accountability is in place to prevent one from viewing something that may have slipped through.
- For our oldest daughter, we use a program called “Uknowkids” that monitors every incoming and outgoing text (even ones that have been deleted), Instagram post, twitter post, and more.
- We also have an app on all of our phones called “Life 360” which lets us know where each of us are at any given time. This is another form of accountability as well as general safety. Our daughter can “check in” with the push of a button to let us know she has arrived where she was heading, and also can send an “alert” or even call both of us with the push of a button if she feels she is in an uncomfortable situation.
If you could caution all parents about one thing in technology, what would it be?
The one thing in technology that I would caution parents about is secrecy, especially with the “deep web” which is something many parents know very little, if anything, about. The “deep web” consists of hidden world from public search engines. Without going into technical details, Child pornography, arms trafficking, drugs, hired assassins, prostitutes, terrorism, etc., all make the Deep Web the largest black market ever to exist. There are applications that have a special keystroke and/or function to activate it known only by the user that installed it. Our kids are very tech savvy today and it is a constant “cat and mouse game” for us to stay ahead of the curve. We have to talk to our kids and make them aware of the dangers that are out there and what to look for so they don’t stumble across something they shouldn’t, or be tempted to hide things from us – if something has to be hidden, it is probably not a good thing. It is also important that we talk to them about what to do in case they do encounter something questionable. Just like drugs, there is a very real threat with technology and peer pressure is ever present. The safeguards I mentioned above are the key and the best chance of ensuring our family’s safety.
How can churches come alongside families to help them deal with the technology concerns of our day?
I believe that the church can come alongside families by inviting experts in these areas of technology to teach classes specific on the threats our kids face, what to look for, and how to prevent problems. Parents and church leaders cannot sit this one out. We must be vigilant in keeping up with this ever changing technology; we can be assured that our children are. I believe it would be prudent for the leaders of churches to review the different tools available and combine efforts with the companies to purchase and provide those at an affordable and realistic price to families. If offered in this way there may be a nonprofit pricing tier that could provide substantial savings. It would be a win/win for the company and for families if procured.
Thanks, David, for your service to our school, for your encouragement to me as a dad and your investment in us today!
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