Have you noticed that the larger churches have made some serious upgrades to their website in 2009? Churches now have Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages, and blogs. Their members who are getting it done in the workplace are stepping up and bringing their local churches kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Content that used to be impossible to find is now making it to the Web. Sermons, skits, teachings, music, conferences, testimonies, signs, and wonders are nudging their way toward mainstream availability.
What is the measure of your success, and where will you devote your time and energy online? Is it good enough to have a thousand sermon views per month? Is that success? What happens to those people afterward? Who is shepherding them?
Who is loving them in lieu of a brick and mortar church? Is your purpose to scatter seed? To evangelize? To administer healing? To deliver prophetic words? To disciple? What is your goal, how will you know when you’ve accomplished your goal, and what will you do to keep from diluting your efforts on unnecessary avenues?
This is perhaps the scariest question of all. Organizations that implement online strategies well may draw significant attention to their websites and social media profiles, resulting in hundreds of comments and questions. Who is manning the interwebz, Church? Whom have you given the authority to respond, answer, pray, and minister to the online sheep? Or do you just want to wildly cast your seed out into cyberspace and hope some of it lands on good soil? Is that what a faithful steward does with the talents God has given him?
Assuming you’ve graduated to the point of actually allowing comments on your site, fan pages, and profile pages, who is handling responses? Have you dumped these responsibilities on your pastoral assistant? Your receptionist? Your youth pastor? Who is qualified to do this? Who understands the Web well enough to not insult people by acting against standard social media community protocols? Who can afford to dilute their current focus?
It’s the same problem businesses without a solid understanding of social media are facing right now. They have no employees qualified or available to man the sails. Social media profiles and blogs become virtual ghost towns neglected by those who had the idea but not the calling to see it through.
The fields ARE white with harvest. And some of those fields are virtual. Entire ministries could be built RIGHT NOW ministering God’s grace and love to people online who don’t attend a church, or whose church doesn’t offer the type of ministry you can provide online.
Right now, people are ministering prophetically through Twitter. People are mentioning their needs and their sorrows online. You can find them with real-time search. Someone could reach them.
Prayer. Encouraging words. Words of knowledge. Words of wisdom. Teaching. Discipling. It’s all possible. It’s all right there. You just need a vision for it and equip your local body of believers to do the work.
And let’s get to it. It’s time for some churches to hire Pastors of Online Ministry. These are web savvy people mature in the faith and trustworthy who can be sent out and supported by the church to minister to the lost online.
It’s time to catch the vision, pastors! It’s time to gather to yourselves those members of your flock who are faithful and equipped and to release them into the virtual highways and byways.