Gutenbergers and Googlers

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   April 17, 2012

Recently I was cooking steaks on the outdoor grill. The problem was that it was dark outside (that often happens at night!), and our deck light wasn’t giving me much help. The flames from the gas grill brought some light…to the bottom side of the steaks…but when light shines towards you it does nothing to reveal what the object looks like on the side you can see.

Carol saw my quandary, and she comes outside with her cell phone.

Hey! I need more light, not a Sprint techie!”

She then turns her cell phone into a flashlight and instantly reveals that the steaks need some more time.


It’s getting more and more amazing what kind of apps you can get for your cell phone. At Starbucks there is a free app card each week. You just take the card, enter in the code on your iTunes account, and download the app to your phone. I can now play Scrabble, Angry Birds, watch a movie, read a book, check the news, and text all my “friends” to let them know I’m drinking a cup of Italian Roast.

The point is that we are in a crunch period in the church between two cultures, the Gutenbergers and the Googlers. Leonard Sweet, in his new book Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival, makes some clear distinctions between the two separated generations. “Gutenbergers” are “into the word.” No, I’m not talking about the Bible, although they do use it. I’m talking about the printed text, the hard copy.

Googlers are into TGIF! If you just translated those capital letters with the phrase “Thank God Its Friday!”, you are probably a “Gutenberger.” If you filled in the blanks of T_G_I_F_ with “Text, Google, iPhone, and Facebook” you are probably more of a “Googler.”

If the pastor says to look up Mark 2:21-23 and you reach for the Bible in the pew rack you’re most likely a Gutenberger. If you reach for your cell phone you are either a Googler, or trying to become one.

The challenge for “the church” is to realize that the Ephesians 4 passage about there being ‘one body and one Spirit” is a call to not cultural division, but the treasuring of different people in different place with different perspectives and different journeys…but one Lord!

“Gutenbergers” tend to be pushier and more determined. Worship services become turf wars about music and length and dress styles. But “Gutenbergers” are also resilient and persistent. “Googlers” tend to need others to get them through, to journey with them. “Gutenbergers” have a “John Wayne” trait.

“Gutenbergers” view the constant texting of “Googlers” as needless drivel and a sign of idle hands with nothing to do. “Googlers” see “text” as a verb and a crucial part of deepening relationships. It is the equivalent of my Uncle Milliard sitting on a bench with some other men in front of the county courthouse on a summer afternoon, in terms of us kids at the time, “Not doing anything!” The difference is that “Googlers” can “sit” with any of their friends at any moment even though they are separated by thousands of miles.

The point is that both cultures need each other. The first group that has a tendency to say “We were here first!” needs to hear . . . really hear the second group’s response “We are here now.” Exclamation mark ends the first group’s sentence, but a simple period finishes the second group’s response.

The alternative is to keep the two cultures separate and allow the fear to build . . . to build suspicions about each other . . . and become convinced that neither “Gutenbergers” nor “Googlers” can learn anything from one another.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Faith, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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One Comment on “Gutenbergers and Googlers”

  1. Friar_ Tuck Says:

    Love this post. Thanks for the book review of sorts.

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