Recently my church hosted this year’s district conference for our denomination. I’d not attended any other prior to this, so I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t assume Brethren delegates would resemble creatives at an arts conference in Chicago.

We opened with great sessions for pastors and ministry leaders, led by a professor at a nearby Christian university. That evening my team and I led a worship service, featuring the same speaker. It was a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate for some of the smaller, more traditional churches in our area what a contemporary worship service can be.

What do you mean I can’t have the code?!

Wedged between our soundcheck/rehearsal and the actual service was the Brethren business meeting, which I didn’t attend. Shortly before the meeting began I was summoned to an attender’s request. The woman wore the traditional Brethren head covering—is there a name for it?—reminiscent of old order German Baptists. On her netbook she had opened the window where she intended to input our WIFI access code, the reason I was called.

I explained to her, “I’m sorry, but our network is secure and it’s our policy not to give out the code.” Really, I didn’t know whether we had such a policy, but if we didn’t, then we should.

She was none too pleased and indicated her incredulousness at our WIFI stinginess. She wasn’t the only one that weekend who asked for the code, and from what I gathered, she wasn’t the only one who was upset about it. My pastor summed it up best when a few of us discussed the issue: Many of them think what’s ours is theirs.

What is it with WIFI?

Coffee House with No WIFI?

Several weeks ago I visited a coffee house, one of two in the small town where I work. I set down the coffee I’d purchased and turned on my iPad but didn’t see a WIFI access point. I asked the barista if they had WIFI, and he said no, that no one ever used it. I was very surprised. Maybe I should have visited more. Coffee houses and WIFI, they’re like peanut butter and jelly. In my coffee-snobberied opinion, this place’s coffee isn’t good enough to warrant the lack of WIFI.

I suppose I consider the price of the coffee to include the cost of WIFI. But what about other places?

I’ve more than once thought to ask an attendant at the YMCA if their WIFI is only for administrative use or if it is available for guests. I do pay $50-something a month. Shouldn’t WIFI be included? While on the treadmill I’d be able to stream The Wonder Years on my Netflix iPad app. (See a post from last week: “Reliving the Wonder of Winnie Cooper.“)

Last month I was at a church conference in Chicago where WIFI was offered. The creative arts conference looked like a Mac convention. Apple laptops, iPhones, and iPads in just about every seat. Perhaps at our Brethren conference we could have offered WIFI the way the Chicago church did. We’d have our in-house secure connection and could offer a guest connection. I guess I hadn’t imagined the technology demands of Brethren delegates would be akin to the creatives at the Chicago conference.

Gratitude vs. Entitlement

I sit writing this at a Starbucks, grateful for access to the Internet, and even more for the coffee to get me going on this Monday morning. If the WIFI were down, then I might just have to wait till I get home to post this using the connection I pay for.

Here’s a funny clip about how in this technological age we quickly regress from gratitude to entitlement. WIFI on an airplane? “You’re sitting on a chair in the sky!”

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