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The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church (Emergent YS) Paperback – 1 Jan 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (1 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310262747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310262749
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.2 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Back Cover

Doing Church in a Media-Drenched Culture It has been said, 'the future is now.' From cell phones to mp3 players to the Internet, no previous age has seen such profound change manifested so quickly. But these thrilling, dizzying transformations are forcing the church to decide where it fits in all this progress. Shane Hipps presents the promise and peril of the emerging culture and its relationship to the emerging church. Looking beyond the details of what's happening in communities of faith, Hipps analyzes the broader impact of technology and media on the church while engaging readers with questions such as: * Is media/technology value-neutral? * How has technology changed the way we think about Scripture, community, and worship? * What cultural opportunities has the church missed? * How should the church position itself to take advantage of coming cultural trends? Providing both history and prophecy, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture invites us to engage new cultural realities while staying connected to our spiritual heritage.

About the Author

Shane Hipps, teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church, is a dynamic communicator and sought-after speaker. His previous career in advertising helped him gain expertise in understanding media and culture. Shane lives with his family in Grand Rapids, MI. For more information, visit

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Format: Paperback
When I started reading this book, I found it quite fluffy and shallow, and mostly a "Christianisation" of the theories posed by McLuhan.

But as the book continued, I began to find real value in the middle half. Shane Hipps discusses the implications of different medias, how they have effected society, and therefore effect church. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 have plenty underlined now in my copy, which were definitely worth reading the book for, hence the 4 star review.

If you are new to media in church and post modern thinking, this book is an excellent introduction. If you know about it, and work in media, this book provides handy context and new thinking. If you're schooled in philosophy and media history, there's probably not much new here.

The last quarter waned for me, and I found his assertions lacked the scriptural foundation I needed as he began to discuss the Emerging Church all the more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.3 out of 5 stars 17 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Started Strong... 19 Mar. 2010
By Phillip H. Steiger - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shane Hipps' desire with this book is essentially two-fold. First, he wants to take a serious look at the effects of media technology in the lives of believers. Secondly, he works to take that analysis and apply it to the life of the church.

Using the powerfully prescient McLuhan as his touchstone, Hipps proceeds to remind us of the truth that the "medium is the message" and the subsequent analysis provided by McLuhan to help us understand the impact of any technology. Hipps moves fluidly from oral to written culture to projected sermons in video venue church services. As such, I think Hipps does a good job of reminding us of some very important reflection - the kind of reflection we so rarely do as evangelicals. At times Hipps is insightful, at times he is appropriately biting in his critique, but most of all the first half of the book provides analysis that needs to be heard. We live in a technologically saturated culture, and hence we tend to lose our ability to "step out" for a moment and think through whether it is any good for us or the message of the Gospel.

Where the book begins to lose its impact is the second half - the application to church culture. Several problems become fairly obvious as the book progresses. I was personally disappointed to discover that Hipps is squarely in the emergent theological fold. I know his book is endorsed by leaders in the emergent movement, but that didn't necessitate the theological problems with Hipps' analysis. As is becoming almost stereotypical of emergent writing, Hipps' history, philosophy and theology are rife with straw men, hyperbole, and unkind generalizations.

For example, Hipps simply assumes that epistemological foundationalism is dead. It isn't. The result from Hipps' point of view is that church life needs to look more at a "web of belief" way of presenting the Gospel, but that is not free from its own serious problems. If the foundation of your argument is a broad generalization, your conclusion is bound to suffer.

Hipps argues against the cultural captivity of seeker sensitive style churches and the prevalence of modernism in too many evangelical circles. Though this is true in some places, the emergent point of view has painted with a very broad brush and pigeonholed every church that doesn't look at things the way they do. Ironically, at this point Hipps falls into the same trap as so many emergent authors - while accusing the modern church of cultural captivity they have willingly become captives to a postmodern culture.

And then there are the ad hominem attacks. Hipps is not above mocking the "30 minute lecture" style of preaching or stating that top-down leadership models "inevitably" lead to corruption and abuse. I'm growing tired of hearing these kinds of obviously false and unkind generalizations from emergent authors.

Hipps' personal narrative is compelling and his work in McLuhan's theory is a great reminder for us, but the book would have been a lot more persuasive with better application to church life.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Presented Material on a Complicated Subject;Perhaps a Needed introduction to important issues 10 May 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
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In reflection on the relationship between media and social organization, Shane Hipps explores the emerging church's engagement with electronic culture. For instance, Hipps outlines some basic associations with the individualism, objectivity, and abstraction of modernity and the print medium's encouragement of private reading, detached learning, and abandonment of mnemonic practices - respectively. Print culture can seem to give shape to a Christian privatized worship life and a systematic scripture reading of "extracting propositional truths."
On page 88 Hipps writes: "Because the medium is the message, our media revolutions - from the printing press to the Internet - have led to unintended changes in our message. Among them is a shift from a modern, individualistic, and highly rational concept of the gospel to a postmodern, communal, holistic, and experiential one." Hipps highlights the positive aspects of this:

"The emerging gospel of the electronic age is moving beyond cognitive propositions and linear formulas to embrace the power and truth of story. It revives the importance of following Jesus holistically rather than simply knowing Jesus cognitively. It has reintroduced us to a corporate understanding of faith that has powerful implications for this life, not just the next. It recovers the importance of ancient imagery, rites, and rituals in celebrating the mystery of the kingdom of God." (90)

Moreover, if the internet truly reflects a diffusion of information, and therefore of power, then this shift offers "a helpful corrective to the long history of centralized, top-down authority in the church. Electronic media allow us to retrieve the more participatory and egalitarian forms of worship where authority is dynamic and based on relationships rather than on fixed job descriptions." (130)

The author draws heavily on the thoughts on Marshall McLuhan, and offers valuable insights into the role of communication technology in culture. However, after reading this book one wonders if the author puts too much explanatory weight on media technology regarding social organization and related issues. It must be noted that there are other factors which can help explain our systems of thought and social organizing.
One book that helps to bring perspective on these issues is A Social History of Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet by Asa Briggs & Peter Burke.
5.0 out of 5 stars Blew My Mind 13 July 2011
By Jose Luis Caceres - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book. The last 1/3 of the book is more practical for a church leader or layperson, but I found I was more interested in the philosophical material that comes before.

As a result, I've been thinking a lot about what is the gospel message and how does the Church (i.e. me) embody it in in a disembodied world of cell phones, internet, television, written word, etc. Also, I'm paying attention to how electronic media have shaped me and our culture and the gospel. Interesting stuff. For me the biggest "Aha Moment" has been observing what my life has been like without my cell phone. It's like I'm in a separate room at a party. On one hand, there's this feeling of missing out on all the action, and on the other hand there's this sense of stillness that is quite calming. The question I find myself asking is, in which room would Jesus prefer I be?

Before this book, I didn't even pay attention to this stuff nor have a way to evaluate it.
5.0 out of 5 stars work of great insight! It is well worth the time to ... 17 Sept. 2015
By Zachary Crane - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a sobering, well thought out, work of great insight! It is well worth the time to process and digest the material presented.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well documented. 20 Jun. 2013
By Elain Daviau - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A well documented book providing details to help understand the development of technology and its implications in todays world. Lots of references
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