‘I’m a Pastor IRL’

Are the tools shepherds use “in real life” still effective online?
‘I’m a Pastor IRL’
Image: Illustration by Jon Krause

When thinking about ministry in a digital age, we lean in one of two directions. One is to focus only on the content: “As long as it’s the gospel, it doesn’t matter what we’re using to spread it!” This misses what brand gurus know: The medium is the message; forms form us. The other approach is to focus entirely on the container, the new media. “Technology is changing us. Facebook is killing social interaction. Instagram is destroying community!” These critiques often fail to acknowledge that all new inventions result in new conventions. There was much hand-wringing over the printing press and the automobile and the telephone. And yet, the human species adapts and adjusts.

I want to move beyond evaluating content and container and reflect instead on the creature: the human person. Is there a way for us as pastors to bear God’s image in online interactions, to be a kind of icon of Christ? Let me suggest three areas to consider: identity and ...

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