Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Challenges of technology

Last Sunday, my congregation really entered the technological age and I realized just how dependent I have become on technology. My HP LaserJet printer – the one that prints many pages per minute, that prints in color and that duplexes failed. Well, not exactly failed – rather it ran out of ink in the red cartridge! In my logic that does not seems to be a problem that stops everything, but it apparently is. Seems that the printer knows when there is no ink in one cartridge and has a chip that says “don’t print” even when what I want to print uses black ink. I tried everything – pretending that I had installed a new cartridge by taking out the red cartridge, shaking it and then putting it. No luck. I tried running the print without the cartridge – no luck. After a few other tries – I can tell you that hitting the printer does not work nor does *&#&^*&&! - including debating the three hour round to the mall to purchase a new cartridge, but after spending so much time trying to by-pass the programmed issues, I no longer had sufficient time to get there, get the order or worship printed and still have a sermon to deliver. So I did it electronically.

On Sunday morning, I set up the screen, hooked the projector to my laptop and we went through the service without paper. Luckily it was Earth Day and I had a good excuse.

Excuse, you say – why excuse? When I first came, the remnant congregation was quite used to having the Order of Worship on one side of a 4 x 5.5 sheet of paper. But I wanted us to live large – to be extravagant – to show the world who joined us in worship that we had something to share. With that thought, I enlarged the Order of Worship to fit onto both sides of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. I fold it (by hand) include clip art (not pirated, but free for general use) and then for good measure, added two more sheets of regular size paper with lots of news and information. If perception is reality, then the perception visitors would get is that we are a congregation with lots going on. I think it worked. I used to get the question “Should I print more than 6 or 7 for worship?” Now, that question is should I (and it is me that does the printing) print 35 or 40?

As the number of copies has increased, I have dropped one of the pages of news and started a monthly newsletter to save paper and some of my time. But when I purchased a projector and screen to use for movies and classes I heard remarks like – "I hate screens" "I hate looking up at words in church" – never mind that looking up seems to be reverencing God - "I hate the snappy things people do with PowerPoint." As my time here has lengthened, I have come to hate using so much of our resources to print bulletins that are never taken home, are rarely read and waste reams of paper (and ink) every week.

I have a ways to go with this technology. I am the only person who can use it in our congregation. I own the only laptop to hook up the projector to and I won’t share my personal laptop. I am the only person who knows when to go from one part of the service to another. Time for me to rethink this. Not that I won’t do the projector/screen sthick anymore – rather, that I need to train one or two others to share the load.

Oh, and in order not to face this printer crisis again, I bought myself a wireless printer, scanner and copier – color, duplexes, thinks for itself. Now as long as my internet provider keeps going, I can.

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