If there is one drum I bang, it’s the need to see as many people using open source technologies as possible. There are two reasons for this.
First, churches are broke. I don’t know about you…yes, I do. Your church doesn’t have any more money than mine does. I bet those of you tasked with some form of leadership in your congregation sit around like our leaders do, and bemoan/worry/fret/blame/what-have-you about the state of finances. You’re not exactly sure how it was you got in the mess your in, and wonder why you need to buy a new copy of Microsoft Office every other month.
Well, the first piece of good news I have for you is not actually from me, but from “Internet Evangelist” Steve Knight: You don’t need to worry about paying for your IT tools any longer. Churches can move themselves into the internet age with an amazing lack of difficulty.
Check out Steve’s talk at last month’s Theology After Google event, “Just as I am Without One Fee” (which Rocky and I voted the best title of the entire event).
For those of us that grew up in the Charismatic/Evangelical world, his big tent revival speech cadence was a joy to behold.
So, that’s number one. Here’s where it gets fun.
The second reason churches should invest themselves into open source technology is because the church is as the church does. Here’s the claim: Our experience of being required to pay for/earn anything of beneficial value, affects our understanding of how we come to receive and benefit from the grace and peace of God in Christ.
Think about it. We get inundated with messages all the time that if we haven’t paid for it (whatever “it” is), we don’t really have any right to enjoy it. Organizations (corporations in particular) are set up on the notion that we will abide by this basic tenet of economic that when some don’t they are called “pirates” and accused of violating a particular ethical/moral code.
I have no interest in this post to debate piracy, but I want to point out how this is simply our reality. Can you see, then, how this would infect (yes, infect) our understanding of the Gospel? If you want to claim the benefit of the things of God then you need to prove that you have “paid” for them. Somehow, we have perverted the things of God into economic transactions.
What if, however, we had as our standard an economy that claimed that items have value when given not bought? What if our churches understood that we have “freely received” and so we should “freely give”?
To be sure, switching all churches over to open source software is a lofty dream. There are many reasons people would give for why it can’t or shouldn’t be done. But the church is as the church does, and when we subject ourselves to a world in which we are required to “pay for value” that can’t help but inform our proclamation of the Gospel.