It's painful to think about what the state of God's Kingdom in Utah would look like without the faithful churches and individuals who support church plants, missionaries, and even long-established churches with finances, missions teams, and lots of prayer. I'm also thankful for the North American Mission Board (NAMB, presently called the Send Network) and the Annie Armstrong Offering, taken every year to provide grants and resources to help church plants.
In light of all the support, I'm still feeling conflicted by eight, inexpensive, little cameras.
At Redeeming Life Church, we're putting up cameras in our children's area. It's not about evening security when the building is empty (because second-hand furniture and animal crackers don't warrant such an effort or expense). Our cameras are going up because we have a shortage of faithful volunteers during our Sunday services. In a place where so few people are believers of the biblical Jesus, we're short on resources and labor. Very short. It's but one of many challenges in the mission field.
Redeeming Life Church is making disciples, and I'm thankful we don't have the problem of many larger churches where Christians haven't growning past the question, "What's in it for me?" Our faith-family faithfully serves in LOTS of areas. The more significant majority of our church is in the rotation to help in the nursery or toddler rooms. Our worship team leaves the stage and heads in to teach in classes. Our greeters and people on the hospitality team do the same. But we still have tons of kiddos and not enough volunteers to put two teachers in every room, the check-in area, and the open area between the classes. However, our children's ministry is extremely important to us and our ministry.
To keep our kiddos safer and to allow our children's leader to know exactly what's going on in every area of the children's ministry, a wonderful donation has made it possible for us to install cameras in each room. They have a two-way communication option and can be viewed in real-time on smart-phones and an iPad. Our children's minister (and others helping) will be able to see what's going on all over the building at any given moment or drop into a class and listen (even communicate with the teachers if necessary). If assistance is needed, we'll know right away. This means the teams of two working in the nursery and toddler room, respectively, can quickly become three or four if help is required. The teachers in the kid's classes won't be alone, instead, having multiple other eyes and ears in the room with them. And it's just a safer option.
So why do I feel conflicted?
An overwhelming majority of Utah doesn't know or worship Jesus (more specifically, Jesus as he proclaims himself in the Bible). That includes kids, so it's essential we have a robust kid's ministry that teaches and preaches Jesus. I desire that we have many adults serving the next generation by helping the children in our church. It's much better for a second or third teacher to show the love of Jesus. But we can't make that better option a reality right now. The camera provides a solution to a big problem, but it's not the best solution. Technology is helpful but it's still not an ambassador of Christ, serving the Lord. We need more faithful Christians serving like missionaries in Utah.
I'm conflicted because I'm so thankful for all our supporters who pray for us, come out on short-term mission trips, send us interns, and help us financially (from those who donate $10 per month to those who give much more); but, I'm simultaneously broken over the great difficulty of our mission.
I recently returned from the Bible-belt where I saw churches filled with people. In the church I visited, they serve and genuinely care about the work of Christ. They have lots of resources and they are deploying some of these resources to mission places like Utah. Not every church is like that. The work in Utah is hard because of many, many factors. One of those factors is the significant shortage of God's faithful laborers here. We're leveraging the technology we can afford to do the most we can with what and who God has here, but I pray that there will come a day where we don't have to use technology as a substitute for God's people advancing the Kingdom in Utah.
We couldn't do what we without the faithful supporters and churches who are partnering with God to serve and support our mission. Thank you! (And if you'd like to join us in this mission, you can find more information here.)
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman