One of our primary goals at the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies is to prepare our students to be able to work both effectively and efficiently in the culture in which they live. In order to do this, we have made it our mission to not only embrace new technologies as they come along, but to be sure that our students are fully trained in how to use them. We also use technology to better serve the church as a whole, by edifying and evangelizing the world from our location in Knoxville, TN. So how exactly do we at Southeast make technology work for ourselves, our students, and the church of Christ at large?
In the Classroom
Our students’ experience with technology at Southeast begins every day in the classroom. Each room is equipped with large flat screen televisions, as well as a Mac Mini computer and an Apple TV. This setup allows our instructors to enrich their class presentations by using PowerPoint (or equivalent apps), easily showing videos, maps, photographs, books, websites, and more. Much of this can be done wirelessly through the use of an Apple Macbook, iPad, or even an iPhone. Students also have access to each of these tools for the purpose of giving in-class presentations.
One other device connected to our in-class technology setup is a robotic webcam. Using the webcam, the Mac Mini computer, and the large television screen, we are able to bring highly qualified and talented instructors from across the country into our classrooms. Now we can have the experts in their fields teach our classes. It is in these ways that we are able to continue to provide the highest quality level of instruction possible to our students.
In Our Training
One of the most obvious areas where technology can assist our students is in the study of the Scriptures. Due to the donation of a generous benefactor we have been able to provide each of our students with their own license to Logos Bible study software. The advantages of Logos are too numerous to list, but the most important advantage of any Bible study software is the ability it gives to a student to quickly access information that, in the past, may have taken hours of searching bookshelves, indexes, and card catalogs. Our students are able to be more efficient in their work, and we pray that efficiency translates into their ministry once they graduate.
We also devote time at Southeast to studying the basics of good graphic design. What does this have to do with preaching, you ask? Well, the reality is that many of our students will at some point find themselves in small congregations where they are solely responsible for the church’s website, designing flyers for various church functions, and even creating a weekly PowerPoint. Since graphics, whether printed or on a screen, give a face to the local congregation, we want to be sure that our students are equipped to do so in the best way possible.
Over their time at Southeast, students also participate in more “hands on” projects by creating their own blog, a personal website which they can use to share articles they have written with both those in, and outside the church. Our students are also instructed in effectively using “Permission Evangelism,” a method which uses social media and technology to reach those who otherwise might never allow a person into their home for a Bible study, but will read an article or listen to a podcast.
There are also several ways in which the staff at Southeast seek to edify the church as a whole, as well as take advantages of technology to reach out to the lost. Not only does our website serve as a source of information about our school, we also use it to spread the gospel.
Our website hosts links to the various works in which we are involved. Every two weeks we release a podcast, called The Overflow, in which a different staff member expounds upon some “overflow” point from a class they are teaching in the current quarter. We also have The Messenger Blog, through which our staff regularly posts helpful articles for all Christians. Links to these resources are shared through our social media accounts, so be sure to “Like” us on Facebook or “Follow” us on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the latest posts.
In addition to these things, we have other exciting projects in the works which we are not quite ready to share, but will only serve to enhance our overall mission of helping the church as a whole to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
The Children of a Technological Age
Librarian and literary critic Lawrence Clark Powell once wrote, “We are the children of a technological age. We have found streamlined ways of doing much of our routine work. Printing is no longer the only way of reproducing books. Reading them, however, has not changed.”
Please allow me to adapt Powell’s sentiments to fit our situation at Southeast: We are the children of a technological age. We have found more efficient ways of doing much of the work of study and ministry. The desperate need to teach and study God’s word, however, has not changed.
Please do not equate embracing modern technology in ministry with somehow reducing the importance of the gospel itself. We live in a time when the fields are white for the harvest, and the masses are seeking good news—the good news which only the gospel itself can provide. May it not be said of us at the final judgment that we did not use every avenue possible to advance the gospel during our fleeting time on this earth. —Daniel Howell