I had the pleasure of reading a new book out by Shane Hipps, pastor of Trinity Mennonite Church, a missional, urban, Anabaptist congregation. Shane’s book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, is a very readable and powerful interpreter of today’s media and the effect it has and will continue to have both on the mediums we use in our churches, as well as the actual message. As Marshall McLuhan (and feminist theologians) have been telling us for years, “the medium IS the message.” The all-too-familiar adage of “the methods change but the message stays the same” is simply blown to pieces by Shane’s reading and interpretation of McLuhan’s thoughts on media, culture and its influences in our lives and for our churches.
Shane clearly lays out some of McLuhan’s media theories, traces the history of technology in modernity, and helps us see the ways in which living in the electronic culture is affecting our message, community, leadership and worship. I think the chapter on community in the electronic culture was one of the most impacting for me, just thinking about how media and this culture has affected my ideas of ‘true’ & ‘authentic’ community, as well as his chapter on worship and his analysis of a “Mac” versus “Windows” approach to the worship life in the church.
While Shane sees the electronic culture as contributing to many postmodern sensibilities and the positive influence those can have on the life of the church community, he is also aware of the ways in which the very same mediums can have negative consequences as well.
I commend Shane’s book The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture to you as an important book for your library of emerging church literature. It is carefully and powerfully written, as well as readable and inviting. For more information about the book and about Shane, visit his website at ShaneHipps.com.