Jump directly to the content
magcover

Already a subscriber?

Home > Issues > 2013 > Summer > Leading Online
Article Preview. Log in or subscribe now.

Some things are easy to do online. Want to broadcast a sermon? That's simple. Just post it on your website—or YouTube. Need to inform people about an upcoming event? Blast your email list. Want help with sermon prep? There's an app for that. Dozens of them, actually.

But not every ministry task is quite so easily accomplished via the Internet. How would you, for example, give a cup of cold water in Jesus' name online? Or comfort someone who is grieving? Not every ministry task can be accomplished online, but it is where people are spending more and more of their lives.

Social media is here to stay, and it is already the norm. It's the reason family vacations become global broadcast events via Instagram and every popular television series has its own #hashtag to allow people to see tweets from fellow fans in real time. If you're waiting for this "fad" to pass, you'll be waiting forever. Leaders who fail to turn the technological corner will find themselves ministering to a dwindling audience. We must engage people now, both online and off, for their good and God's glory.

But how exactly can we engage social media in a way that is shepherd-like? How do we pastor people via social media? Here are some principles I've found helpful.

1. Connect with People

In 2010, I received an email from David Chrzan, chief of staff at Saddleback Church. He wanted to talk about social media, online publishing, and how pastors were interacting with new media. Eventually, this led me to re-locate to Southern California to help re-launch Pastors.com, Rick Warren's online community of church leaders. My relationship with David started over Twitter, where he had observed some of the conversations I was taking part in. My life changed dramatically because of a conversation that began online. In fact, some of the most meaningful connections I've ever made happened over Twitter and Facebook.

If you lead a church, there are people in your vicinity looking for relationship. Online connections alone won't provide the relationship they're looking for. Yet, as I've found, online connections can lead to face-to-face relationships. You can use social media to initiate pathways that lead people into genuine community and, ultimately, into a relationship with Christ.

2. Join the Conversation

Conversations are occurring online all the time whether we join them or not. There are now thousands of tweets posted every second on Twitter. Trying to read the collective, real-time updates of even a few hundred people can feel like filling a thimble under Niagara Falls. People tweet and post constantly.

Since you can't listen to everything, it's important to tune into the conversations that matter most to you. I was once speaking to Saddleback Church's staff about using Twitter. While speaking, I was also monitoring a search for every tweet using the phrase "pray for" within a 100-mile radius of Orange County, California (you can do this under Twitter's advanced search features).

As I was speaking, ...

log in

To view the rest of this article, you must be a subscriber to LeadershipJournal.net. Activate your online account for complete access.

From Issue:e-ministry, Summer 2013 | Posted: July 17, 2013

Also in this Issue: Summer 2013

'Just Unfollow Me!'

'Just Unfollow Me!'Subscriber Access Only

The gospel demands we engage the world, even when we feel vulnerable.
From Online to Offline

From Online to OfflineSubscriber Access Only

How our online ministry is bringing seekers through the doors of our church.
Discipling the Hyper-Connected

Discipling the Hyper-Connected

Moving a distracted generation toward Christ.
Spiritual Direction for Weird People

Spiritual Direction for Weird PeopleSubscriber Access Only

How do I help someone grow who's not like me?

Subscribe to read more

Subscribe Today!

  • Monthly issues on web and iPad
  • Web exclusives and archives on Leadership Journal.net
  • Quarterly print issues

Print subscriber? Activate your online account for complete access.

Join the Conversation

Average User Rating: Not rated

No comments

Use your Leadership Journal login to easily comment and rate this article.
Not part of the community? Subscribe, or on public pages, register for a free account.
Reader's Pick
What I Learned in the Fire

What I Learned in the Fire

When pastoring a church plant became a living hell, I thought I was done with ministry.
Sister Sites
Recovering from a Big ProjectBuilding Church Leaders

Recovering from a Big Project