Pastor’s Blog: What We Can Learn from Party Lines, Pay Phones & Pagers
A couple of weeks ago, I found a plastic bag laying on the walkway leading to my front door. Curious, I opened the bag and to my great surprise, I found a Yellow Pages phone book! I honestly did not know that phone books were still distributed, and I probably have not used one in 8-10 years. In fact, the last time I saw a Broward County phone book, there were two 2-3”-thick Whitepages and one 2-3”-thick Yellow Pages. Interesting how much these books have been scaled back now that people find the information they need online.
Seeing that phone book started my reminiscing. I thought back to the “party line” that meant the neighbors shared a phone line and you had to wait until it was clear to make a call. It also meant you could listen to your neighbor’s phone conversations! I remember phones with rotary dials and cords. I remember the cordless phones with the antenna you had to pull out each time you wanted to make a call. If you ventured outside the house, there were pay phones on almost every corner, and people could deposit a dime (later a quarter) to communicate.
Only a short time after that, pagers were the talk of the town and “beeps” and “tones” were being heard coming from belts and pockets. I remember the first cell phone that came in a large carrying case, and then the “brick” phone that would pull your pants down if you tried to carry it in your back pocket. Then came flip phones and Razors. The race was on to make them thinner and smaller. In fact, I remember Nokia and Ericsson commercials bragging that their phones were small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.
Then someone had the idea to merge the cell phone with the Palm Pilot, and two devices became one. Soon, the Walkman and iPod were merged into that same phone. Shortly thereafter, the cell phone also became a GPS. These new uses and the introduction of social media called for larger screens to accommodate people’s desire to read and look at pictures on their phones. Next came apps and videos, and before you knew it, cell phones increased in size and started looking more like iPad Mini’s!
If all that were not enough, people started talking to their cell phones, and Siri or Google Assistant started dialing, searching for information, and providing directions for them. Now, most people will text and rarely even talk on their cell phone; but the purpose of communication is still being accomplished. New technology continues to be discovered and user needs are continuing to change, so no one really knows what telecommunication technology will look like in the next 5-10 years!
The Church can learn a lot from the telecommunications industry. Times will change, needs will change, and the Church will need to change and adapt to effectively meet the needs of those they desire to reach and serve. Someone said, “The Church exists to take the never-changing message to an ever-changing world.” Someone else said, “The message never changes, but the methods do.” The point is that the telecommunications industry has changed drastically in my lifetime; but the primary purpose of facilitating communication remains the same.
In the Church, there have also been many changes: praise teams have replaced choirs, bands have replaced orchestras, guitars have replaced organs, video has replaced overhead projectors, colored lighting has replaced white lights, theater seating has replaced pews, casual dress has replaced suits, online Bibles have replaced printed Bibles, and so much more. In spite of all these changes, the purpose of the Church has not changed—the Church still exists to share the Gospel message with those who still need to accept the gift of salvation found through the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You have been noticing some changes at Grace Church over the past year. These changes have been and continue to be made with the intent of helping us become more effective in sharing the Gospel and bringing people to Jesus. The fact is that the Church is one of the only organizations that exists for those who are not its members.
Yes, our methods are changing; but the message preached from the pulpit of Grace Church will never change! If you are looking for a place to help you discover your faith, learn about God, and grow in your relationship with Him…then Grace Church may be just the place for you!
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