Sometimes I resist – even resent – the learning curve that technology presses daily on my life. I was trained in theology, not technology.
Maybe I should just stick to the things I’m good at or gifted for. Oh wait…I am called to communicate. There goes my out.
Of course, you would not be reading this blog if you were too terrified of technology or a real snob to social media. Today, I simply want to encourage you toward wisely investing your time in technology without being intimidated by it. Here are four ways you should embrace technology.
1. Connect With Your Community
I want to respectfully nudge you beyond just tolerating technology to the point of embracing it as a legitimate ministry tool. Some of us are still hanging on to that Gutenberg breakthrough in 1439. Many more efficient and effective tools have become available to us to make disciples with, so let’s use them to advance the gospel.
Why wouldn’t we want to learn the native tongue of the community we have been called to serve?
The intergenerational church I recently pastored for 13 years required several modes of communication: letters, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…and preaching. The medium age in that city (Conway, Arkansas) is 25.6 years old. A whopping 30% of our population is in their 20-30s, and almost 1:4 is a college student. Since only 15% of those born between 1980- 2000 (Millennials) are born again, and less than 10% attend a church regularly, why would I not open every line of communication possible to connect with them?
Although your demographics are likely different from mine, there are still 80 million Millennials in the US wanting to know if God cares about them, or if we do, for that matter. Most of them will make that determination first from our website, not our worship service.
Is technology the answer to church health? Of course not, but shame on us if we are not using every means necessary to connect with our community. Dr. Ed Stetzer recently wrote a helpful article about how social media benefits church leaders.
2. Customize Your Strategy
Teaching is one thing we all have in common since it is a qualification for pastors (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 1:9). One blessing of serving in the modern era is that there have never been more tools for teaching, shepherding and evangelizing than there are right now.
This month I added LinkedIn and Google+ to my social media strategy. The reason for my strategy change was my recent job change. I have pastored local churches since 1987 until I signed on this fall to serve pastors like you through Lifeway. Since Lifeway is a Christian resource provider, I am attempting to expand my reach beyond the local church to other pastors, churches, and ministries.
Since there are 350-400,000 pastors in the US, I need to not only master their native tongues, but also familiarize myself with their various dialects as well. Sometimes the learning curve is more intimidating than inspiring, yet the outcome is always worth the effort.
3. Use Your Unique Voice
In all honesty, I work with people who are much smarter than I am. Grammar is sometimes a source of self-intimidation on social media. Yet my sarcastic, plain-spoken voice is genuinely mine. Any effort to sound more polished than I am comes across as disingenuous.
Preach the Gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (1 Cor. 1:17).
I prefer to slip into the shoes of Barnabas…that unpublished, unpolished encourager who seemed to know how to serve pastors whether they were “in season or out of season.” Yep, I have found my voice and appreciate the fact that you are listening to it right now through this blog!
4. Budget Your Time
I have hopefully encouraged you to embrace technology enthusiastically. Now I want to also warn you to embrace it cautiously.
Whether you are trying to stay ahead or just keep up – don’t let yourself go down that technology rabbit hole. Pastors can waste countless (literally) hours trying to stay ahead or simply keep up. Ministry tools can easily become toys that are hard to put down.
Set realistic goals and limits on your social media preparation and interaction. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, as we all are fighting through some level of frustration and intimidation.
What inspires you the most about technology? What intimidates you the most?