People in ministry that don’t use the modern technology and internet amaze me (and not in a good way). Today was great. I got to spend a few hours with Pastor Michael Smith from Harvest Ridge Church in St. John, Indiana. He is a great guy that is growing a church in this community. Last year I spoke at his church and spent some time showing him how to us facebook and twitter for ministry. He is now using it like an old pro. Everyday he tweets (you can follow him @michaeljaysmith), updates facebook (find him on facebook here), and updates his church website (you can find that at www.harvestridgechurch.com). It is amazing how many people he is able to reach out to and talk with daily, all while sitting at a table in Panera.
I am a pretty big advocate of social networking and ministry. So much so that I believe if you are trying to reach out to anybody in this country, and you aren’t using any of it, you are doing your people a disservice. That came out sounding harsh, sorry about that. But honestly, a few years ago it was friendster and myspace, now its facebook and twitter. I have no idea where it will be in ten years. What I do know is that churches are holding less and less services, and the window to reach out to our congregations is getting smaller and smaller. I also know that today, I was able to continue conversations with at least a hundred people around the country, all while sitting in a bus in a small town in Indiana.
I had a pastor once tell me that he wouldn’t use myspace because of the trash on there. He had great intentions. He didn’t want to look like an advocate for smut. I understand that. The problem is, ministry is dirty, reaching out and sharing Jesus means getting in the trenches. Missions ministry shows us that daily. We go on missions trips and are all about going to the market or on the streets because that is where the people are. Why do we have such a hard time doing the same here? The fact is, most of the people we are reaching out to aren’t in the streets, but they are online. If we are truly supposed to be like Christ, then its time that we minister like He did. He spoke to everyone that would listen; in churches, on streets, in boats, in houses, by the wells, in fields, and on mountains. He went where the people were.
The church today has been given some tools that are far beyond what any pastor or missionary has had in history. In a matter of a second, I will click a button and this blog will go out worldwide. Imagine the message you would like to share with your people. When that pastor told me he didn’t want to be on myspace because of the content, I told him I understood, but his students are there anyways….and now they don’t have a shepherd there to help them get past the garbage. And it’s not just about students anymore. According to the facebook site:
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a place waiting for you to reach out. Whether you are a pastor, a student, or just some guy that found this by accident, you have a way to reach the PLANET. Both locally and globally….and you are staring at it right now. The fact is, the person that sits in the back row of church and makes fun or you while you preach, will give you his undivided attention online….and he will respond. The best part is, you are on his turf. That is going into all the world. Or at least part of it. So start using these things that we spend so much time on for reaching out. Make a difference. Make Your Mark.
peace – love – recycle