Want to utilize technology as a tool for ministry? Faith Growth provides you with the advice and solutions you need for online ministry success.
Communication is shifting from the static printed word to dynamic technologically assisted digital mediums. People are spending more time on the internet than watching TV these days. People are using social networks and blogs to form meaningful connections and relationships.
Engaging in digital ministry is an effective strategy for pastors and churches leading ministry in the 21st century. Faith Growth is all about helping you:
As a kid I was a geek, totally fascinated with all thing tech. This was back in the 1980s and 90s, long before the Internet and shows like The Big Bang Theory became popular. “Geek” wasn’t a popular label back then. It definitely was not cool.
I wanted to be cool, but I couldn’t keep away from techie gadgets. I got my first computer in the second grade. Soon I was creating simple applications in BASIC. In Junior High, I was one of a small group of geeks that made up my school’s Computer Club. I loved programing. I also liked taking things apart to see how they worked, and putting them back together with enhancements. (Ask my family about the alarm clock I wired into my stereo, to ensure that I woke up for early morning swim practice.)
But spirituality was also of strong interest to me as a kid. As a sixth grader, I was invited to serve as an assistant teacher to a Sunday School teacher. In high school, I served as president of my youth group. In college, I accepted my first call to serve on staff at a congregation as a youth director. In total, I have been on the staff of five churches, serving in the areas of youth and education.
But even as a youth minister I typically handled IT support for my churches. In 1997, I coded my first church website. During the rise of the Internet, I helped my churches to navigate this brave, new online world, as we began to experiment with harnessing its power for ministry.
In 2003 I decided to enter Seminary, and concluded my M.Div studies just as social media was reaching a tipping point: Facebook opened its site beyond just college students.
Though I returned to the church to serve in the area of youth education, my inner geek began to clamor for a larger role. I began to discern that I was being called to help churches use social media for ministry. So I became a social media consultant, teaching churches to use social tools for ministry. It soon became crystal clear to me, however, that churches lacking a strong website simply couldn’t use social tools to successfully engage in digital ministry.
So I began helping churches to design and build websites. But just a few short years into this role I realized that although the churches now had digital tools, they simply couldn’t wrap their minds around the digital world. They were still stuck.
The Christian church has a 500-year history with print. The church is slow to change, but must now jump to digital to remain relevant in society. To effectively do ministry in our now fully digital society, churches must put aside their print-first mindset and begin to strategize on how to put digital first. All existing workflows must be modified to start with digital and then distribute through other channels.
The struggle for most congregations is their preference to stick with the ease of their established print systems, because everyone knows their role in producing them. Most church staff and volunteers are overworked just trying to keep on top of ministry needs; the thought of having to learn new digital tools is daunting. Their attitude is “Who has time for that?”
My response: “Make time or become irrelevant.”
Faith Growth partners with congregations who both understand and are ready to address this reality.
Typically, we start with our weekend consultation program, during which we evaluate the current communication systems, staff, equipment, and church needs, and write up a full report with our recommendations. We might partner with the church to develop a new website, or simply help church staff with implementing smart social media practices. Our overall goal is to help church congregations gain a digital-first mindset, so they remain effective in meeting the needs of their current communities and continue to grow.
Today, geek is cool. I guess that makes me cool. Which makes me happy.