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Beam Me Over Scotty: Holographic Pastors by 2030?

by Dr Ulf Spears, Mar 24, 2012

prince_charles_holog_08I have been a Star Trek fan for many years and I remember taking my family to the latest Star Trek blockbuster release in the movie theaters. What is interesting is that even after years of viewing the Star Trek saga, I am still fascinated by the transporter room and its ability to, as Captain Kirk would say, “Beam me up Scotty.” What kind of technology is behind this type of teleportation? How will the future reconcile the need for human’s to improve constantly and innovate in the area of technology? What does this innovation in the area of technology mean for the future of Christianity in the next 20 years?

Click to view Prince Charles hologram speech on youtube.

The future of Christianity is an important issue as leaders move toward 2020 and beyond. Technology has become a major driver as Christianity moves from intellectual-science orientation to an oral, emotional, metaphoric, creative and intuitive orientation (Hohstadt, 2007). This new creativity is seen in the social networking revolution through Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook and lays a foundation for innovative technologies such as using holograms and tele-presence as norms in Christianity by the 2020’s. With this trend in mind, this article will highlight the various technology futures that the church may encounter in the world by 2030.

Holographic Imagery as a Trend

The field of technology could be revolutionized and religion renovated in the 2020’s by the normalization of holographic imagery. This technology trend in various forms of holographic imagery is being used to extend the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the earth. Peyghambarian (2010) suggests “holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world.” This telepresence, as it is called, is simply the “beaming a physical presence of a person to remote locations and…could be the next revolution in communication technology” (Cobus, 2009).

Holograms are being used in business meetings across the world with companies such as Cisco and UK-based Musion Systems Inc. in India who has conducted over 1,000 meetings with this technology (Digital Leadership Network, 2008). Perry (2009) says that Britain’s Prince Charles gave a pre-recorded holographic speech at a conference and highlighted the carbon dioxide pollution that he would have emitted if he had flown to the meeting. He continues by suggesting that “holographic appearances appear nearly identical to the real thing. The images are to scale. They move naturally.” The only problem that she identifies is the “occasional light flicker” that “reminds the (people) that they’re watching a projection.”

Holograms: Church Size & Cost

Barrett (2009) suggests that it is a possibility but only for those with a great deal of money since this technology will cost a fortune. The positive side of this technology is that it would allow the ability to reach a great deal of people with the gospel; the equipment is quite costly for any mid-size church. Cobus (2009) suggests that “as the technology continues to develop, and prices for components and bandwidth start coming down to more affordable levels and…smaller churches should definitely be keeping an eye on the prices for the necessary technology.” McClellan (2009) suggests that in 25 years “three church sizes persist: small, medium, and large. Each is formed out of and operates under different social, theological, economic, and geographic factors and, as such, each uses media and technology in different ways.” Those churches are called: (1) gigachurches, which are the larger technology based church of the future, (2) middlechurches, which are medium sized and lack the finances to have their own technology and rent out community spaces for places of worship such as theaters or clubs; and (3) nanochurches, which are small groups of up to 25 people and meet in homes, “coffee shops, public parks” and are divided into to two technology groups, the pro-tech and the no-techs. They still use technology as seen in home theaters, laptops, mobile phones or things that fit in their limited space (McClellan, 2009).

Affluent churches are already taking advantage of this technology through multi-campus models (two-dimensional projections) and the question then arises “Can a digitally projected pastor lead a congregation, shepherd believers, create, and expand a community?” (Park, 2008).

Johnson (2008), lead pastor at Cumberland Church, suggests that in the near future we could see a “pastor as a hologram.” Johnson (2008) continues by stating that “With the expansion and success of ‘video church campuses’ all throughout the U.S., this seems to be the next logical step and transformation.”

Barrett, Johnson, Guidry & Crossing (2001) suggest this technology is only the beginning of the massive changes and innovations and that “bogus robot churches and android evangelists (will be) controlled by political regimes attempting to infiltrate and destroy the Body of Christ” (p. 91). What will the church do with this technology in the hands of unregenerate people and those redeemed by the blood of the lamb? David Barrett (Personal interview in Summer of 2009) suggests that we must be mindful of the innovations and changes that we release for public use due to the equal access of good and evil. On the side of good, holographs might even be seen as an imprint of the Holy Spirit through technology.

Are Youth Ready for the Future?

Youth are rapidly moving toward an increase of technological information and change is a daily occurrence for them. How will they respond to the growing technological changes, political upheaval, and economic instability? I believe that youth have the potential to embrace the coming multileveled technological changes: globally, regionally, and locally. Canton (2006) believes that there are four future ready style categories that all young people fall into and they are as follows:

1. Future-Trailblazer: They are leaders, innovators, and explorers. They are trailblazers and set the pace for other youth to follow.
2. Future Traditionalist: They do not care as much about finances and their occupational goals as they do family and education.
3. Future Frustrated: They are not sure about the future, not involved in community outings, and do not have much knowledge about money. They have a negative, hopeless view of the future.
4. Future Activist: They are counter cultural and are never satisfied yet they are involved in making right what does not work in the society. They are a thorn in the side of leadership and often rub them and the community the wrong way but over the long haul could bring lasting positive change. (p.101-105)

Cornish (2004) see that youth can get “foresight by learning how to think about the future… (since) they have a special need for ideas about the future.” He continues to suggest that youth should “learn about major trends now shaping human life and begin to think about how these trends are influencing their lives” such as holographic imagery technology (p.223-224). By 2030, youth should be ready for change and be willing to step into leadership roles along with being future ready with the following skills:

1. A positive outlook on the future,
2. Family and community involvement; a commitment to values,
3. Higher education,
4. Acquiring science and tech skills, and
5. Financial awareness skills and personal money management. (Canton, 2006, p.100)

Investing in Youth is the Answer

Obviously, integrating Holographic technology into next years’ church budget is not realistic. But as a parent, or pastor or even Christian leader, we are all charged to empower the next generation to take us places, we never dreamed possible.

My journey into futures fluency was not easy since it came so late in life; so the best thing we can do as parents, pastor or even Christian leaders is to invest in youth by making them future ready now. We need to ask ourselves, what purpose might God have for creating a networked world, filled with 3-D webs, and virtual meeting software? Where will this lead in twenty years? Are we sowing the seeds in our own Christian education or training for some possible latter day rain revivals in Asia, led by holographic evangelists? Answering these questions can prepare parents, pastors, or Christian leaders and youth for a future, that is filled with adventure, wonder, creativity, and imagination.

About the Author

Dr. Ulf Spears is president of Strategic Leadership International, an organization that seeks to fill the leadership vacuum in society through consulting, coaching, training, mentoring, and empowering emerging leaders and organizations from a biblical, academic, and practical perspective. Dr. Spears is a gifted seminar speaker, lecturer, educator, counselor, consultant, advisor, and entrepreneur, addressing issues affecting all areas of human, social, and spiritual development. Dr. Spears is a minister, community leader, as well as serving as adjunct instructor at Warner Pacific College and Mt. Hood Community College. He holds a B.S. degree in Psychology (Corban University), a M.S. degree in Management (University of Phoenix), a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Leadership Coaching (Regent University) and a Doctorate of Strategic Leadership (DSL) degree (Regent University). He, his wife, and three children reside in Vancouver Washington. Contact information:


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