Fortress Press

Grace and Gigabytes: Being Church in a Tech-Shaped Culture

Grace and Gigabytes

Being Church in a Tech-Shaped Culture

Ryan M. Panzer (Author)


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Grace and Gigabytes: Being Church in a Tech-Shaped Culture explores change and ministry at the intersection of technology, culture, and church. In today's tech-shaped culture, we learn and we know through questions, connection, collaboration, and creativity--the networked values of the digital age. Drawing on experiences from a career as an instructional designer in the technology industry and a lifetime of leadership in the Lutheran church, Ryan M. Panzer argues that digital technology is not a set of tools, but a force for cultural transformation that has profound implications for ministry.

Grace and Gigabytes explores shifts in culture that have heightened amid accelerated adoption and use of digital media. Just as previous revolutions in technology have disrupted culture, especially processes of cultural "meaning-making" related to faith and spirituality, so we are living through a powerful revolution of digital technology, culture, and spiritual thought. This revolution calls the church to change. This needed change requires not so much a shift in tactics: launching a website, building a podcast, or starting a social media page. The change is a philosophical pivot: prioritizing collaboration, making the flow of knowledge more dynamic, celebrating connection and creativity, and always affirming the question. Panzer discusses each of these philosophical pivots, describing their technological origins. He tells stories of ministries that have aligned to this cultural moment. And he provides concrete recommendations for the practice of ministry in a digital age.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506464138
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464145
  • Dimensions 6 X 9
  • Pages 184
  • Publication Date December 1, 2020


"Ryan M. Panzer's snapshot of current digital ministry is invaluable for anyone in church leadership. Not only does he do an amazing job of interweaving the tech and faith landscapes, he also provides guiding questions and direct applications to create new or bolster evolving efforts. Ryan's tech and theology background are clear. His accessible and helpful concepts will be able to help any community context."

Sarah Stonesifer Boylan, Digital Missioner at Virginia Theological Seminary

"Many digital ministry writers have helped Christians engage faithfully in online spaces that are primarily social. Ryan M. Panzer's perspective is informed as well by practices more commonly associated with work cultures and online learning. Grace and Gigabytes is a playbook for making participation in faith communities meaningful and accessible."

The Rev. Kyle Oliver, Doctoral Candidate at Teachers College

"In a time of pandemic where physical distancing has pushed us all into digital spaces, Ryan M. Panzer reminds us that a tech-shaped culture is one that demands good questions, clear relational connections, agile collaboration, and genuine creativity. His experience working at both Google and in Lutheran churches gives him the authority and authenticity to be an excellent guide in these challenging times. Our faith and our deepest questions are inextricably bound together, and this book will help you to see that entanglement as a gift, not an obstacle."

Mary E. Hess, Professor of Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary

"A fascinating journey into the tech world of Google as a theologian. Tech immersion has changed us in critical ways. Ryan M. Panzer calls the church to renewal through meeting God's people how and where they live. Powerful testimony to the reality of our tech lives and the enduring mission or the church."

Kristin Wiersma, Team Lead Consultant, The Joshua Group

"It's hard to imagine a more pertinent book for the church of 2020 and beyond. Ryan M. Panzer takes the best of tech culture and brings it to bear on a church desperate to engage the digital world. He does so without losing the richness of Christian theology or the dynamism of the Christian community. This book is a must-read for anyone longing to move their church beyond awkward live-streaming and Zoom meetings to a church that is as adept online as it is in the sanctuary."

The Rev. Angela Denker, author of Red State Christians: Understanding the Voters Who Elected Donald Trump

"From Sundays services to daily sabbath moments, technology can lead communities of faith toward a deeper connection or a further into chaos. Never before have the challenges of integrating technology and ministry in effective ways been more important. Ryan M. Panzer engages this important challenge in ways that will empower your ministry in creative ways."

Stephanie Williams O'Brien, Lead Pastor, Mill City Church, author of Stay Curious: How Questions and Doubts Can Save Your Faith