The Online Pastor
If you've seen the TV series "Web Therapy," then you get the concept. Instead of meeting at the church office, have your counseling sessions and conferences online. You can meet for prayer, share thoughts on your upcoming sermon, and answer questions about navigating life and faith.
Justin Wise of Monk Development has tried this for a while now. He's hosted group sessions and one-on-one virtual meetings. Here are three of his recommendations for making it work:
1. The shorter the better. Start out with one-hour sessions one day a week. Add another day, not more time, if the demand increases and you want to spend more time in your virtual office.
2. Try one-way visuals. Use a service that allows one-way visual communication: they can see you but you can't see them. People want to know someone's there and still want to have a bit of anonymity.
3. Avoid interruptions. Wise was praying for someone online when a co-worker barged into his office asking a question about office supplies. Treat this time as if someone were in your office face-to-face.
Post your virtual office hours, some sample topics you'll cover, and get started.
Sometimes there can be frustration with your present situation because you know where you are going to end up, and your dreams are so big that the present can seem so small …. Where you are is where you are. Trust God and let that be enough. Pour into what God has given you now. The tireless pursuit of the next thing can cause you to miss some of the best stuff in life …. At the end of your life, you don't want to look back and see that you have accomplished so much but left no real legacy.
—Tony Wood, founding pastor of Moment Church in Orange County, California, quoted in Frequency (Worthy Publishing, 2011).
44% That's the percentage of Americans now in a different religion or denomination than the one in which they were raised, reports Pew Research in the American Religious Identification Survey.
Leadership Challenge: Turning the double-dipped into dyed-in-the-wool members. How will we educate a stream of newcomers about our church's polity, theology, and heritage, without boring the long-timers? And without making denominational distinctives seem more important than Christian faith itself?
Copyright © 2012 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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