Typewriters & The Church

“RIP typewriter” has been a top ten trending topic on Twitter all morning. Apparently nobody is buying typewriters anymore, and the last “official” manufacturer in Mumbai India has closed down. It doesn’t surprise me that a typewriter manufacturer is closing the doors in 2011. What DOES surprise me is that they were still around at all in this millennium.

In the early 1980’s my family traded in the old school typewriter for an electronic word processing typewriter, as well as a “plug in to the TV” style TI-99/4A model computer from Texas Instruments. I think I still have the high score in “Hunt The Wumpus” in my old neighborhood, but that’s not the point. The point is that nobody I know currently living topside of the earth’s surface still uses or even owns a typewriter. They’re totally outdated, loud, and produce only hard copies that smudge quite easily. Why? It wasn’t because we were gadget people or tech gurus. We just wanted to use more effective stuff. There is absolutely no reason I can think of to own or operate such a device at any point… in at least the last twenty years if not the last thirty. Yet here in 2011, a company is finally going to cease production.

I have questions. Who was buying these things? What did they cost? Why would anyone bother using those? It must have been tough to even find a place that sold them. People literally had to go out of their way, even use computers, to find a way to buy a typewriter. It sounds so insane! Such a waste of time on something that doesn’t matter.

The church takes a lot of heat for wasting time on what doesn’t matter and perpetuating what are considered outdated tactics. We take heat from all sides about musical styles, the age of our pastors & church staff, our facilities, and even which Bible translation we use. Is that your church? Do you feel like your ministry to reach your neighborhood is like typewriters trying to sync up with iTunes? Sometimes it is true. Sometimes it is just another avenue for disgruntled church types to sit around at Starbucks and vent about “what they’re against” instead of being courageous about what they’ve been called to do. What about you? Where are you wasting your time and energy on something that doesn’t matter? It is a question worth asking, and answering.

I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that typewriters are useless. May our methods of making disciples and engaging our culture with the Gospel never be a waste of time.

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