Sandy Seventh-day Adventist Church

Hope and Healing For All People

One More Mistake We Must Avoid

One name dominated the first 100 years of photography. But the name once familiar to most people who snapped photos is now seldom mentioned.

My introduction to photography began in a seventh-grade elective class at Los Alisos Junior High School in Mission Viejo, California.  I constructed a camera using a large tin can.

My project began with spraying the inside of the can with flat black paint. Softly tapping a hammer on the head of a nail, I punched a pinhole in the bottom of the can, then covered the hole with black tape. In a darkroom, lit only by a red lamp, I fastened photographic paper cut to fit on the inside of the can's plastic lid.

Camera construction complete, I shot my first photo in the school parking lot. I stabilized the can on its side, on the ground, and pulled the tape back from the pinhole to expose the photo paper to enough light that the image of the subject would transfer to the paper. Back in the darkroom, I dipped the paper in chemicals that revealed the black and white image of my subject: a black Cobra Mustang with gold racing stripes.

Next, I used a 35 mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera that captured images on plastic film. Exposure to light produced a negative that could be projected with light onto photographic paper to produce prints with a device called an enlarger.

Back then, most people who owned a camera owned a Kodak. Kodak rose to prominence by making cameras affordable and easy to operate—just point and shoot. But a Kodak, like most other cameras of that time, required film, enlargers, and photographic paper to produce the prints people wanted. This became Kodak's core business.

By the late 1990s, digital cameras became popular. By the time my son Matthew was born in 2003, cameras using film and enlargers to make prints became rare. A decade later, smartphone cameras are sophisticated enough that stand-alone digital cameras are no longer necessary for most casual photographers.

The process of turning photos into prints took a relatively long amount of time, equipment and expense, compared to what smartphones are able to do. What used to take a trip to a photo developer and a few dollars is now instantaneous. When you snap a photo on your smartphone, you are instantly holding a digital version of it, and you can share it free multiple times with anyone who has a smartphone.

While the process of turning a photograph into a usable product has changed, the principle for producing a photographic image remains the same as it was when Joseph Nicéphore Niépce shot the first photo in Burgundy around 1826: Images are captured on a surface that can be
transformed by light.

In the supernatural realm, a similar principle is at play in people who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Jesus is the Light of the world that transforms the character of each person who receives Him.

Kodak made a mistake. Instead of investing their resources in adapting their photographic expertise to changes in their world, they continued to depend on doing business they way they'd always done it. As a result, they gave up their influence in the world of photography to companies like Apple that have leaned heavily on new ways of shooting photos while relying on the same principles on which Kodak once operated a successful business.

Let's learn a lesson from Kodak's mistake. Instead of remaining a company that produced photographic images, they became a company that produced cameras, film, and paper for prints. When people no longer needed Kodak to get products to get their photos, Kodak became irrelevant.

For the church, the mission is more important than the method of fulfilling the mission. Relying on the Holy Spirit we can adapt our methods to avoid making the mistake of assuming the way we've always done it is still the best way to do it.

Seventh-day Adventists are tasked with sharing an important message in a world that has significantly changed since the beginning of this denomination. The principles of delivering the message haven't changed--people need to hear it, and people need to see it in the image of Jesus imprinted upon a church that is transformed by His light. But the processes for delivering the message needs to continually adapt to an ever changing social and technological environment.

God's faithful church is not in the business of producing people who understand Bible prophecy, eat healthy, dress modestly and attend church on Saturday. As important as any of these outcomes may be, if they don't result from the church delivering, and people receiving, the image of Jesus--loving God, and loving others--we're not doing anything of lasting value.

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