Innovation, Communication & Evangelism (ICE)
The pandemic has forever changed the way we will approach ministry. We have seen how virtual worship and technology have made even more accessible the ability to connect to our members and reach new people for Christ. Churches in the Capital District report having new members join bible studies and the church even though they live states away. It has also allowed former members who have moved to rec-connect with a congregation that nurtures their faith, and part of the re-connection is the offering of financial support and renewed friendships. I have invited Rev. Jen Swindell (Deacon Asbury UMC – Raleigh) to develop a team that will provide consulting help to our congregations and pastors so we all may be more informed, educated, and aware of the possibilities for enhancing or creating impactful ministry at the intersection of Innovation, Communication, & Evangelism (ICE). Jen will be developing a team for the CA District that will offer webinars, technical assistance, and insights to help our CA district churches multiply their evangelism efforts through social media in this new era of being the church.
Please stay tuned for further information and upcoming opportunities to learn how to cultivate your holy imagination for reaching and re-connecting with the churched, unchurched, and de-churched.
Thank you for the work you do for the cause of Christ and the Reign of God.
Welcome guest writer Rev. Jen Swindell, Deacon Asbury UMC.
Jesus Said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
When we read this verse from scripture, it’s safe to guess that the image of the “light of the world” in our head is certainly not the blue light that comes from the electronic devices that take up so much of our time.
For me, the image that comes to mind is a candle. One of the most revolutionary developments that is easily taken for granted today. Without the wick, lighting would have remained only through torches and bonfires. Instead, over the years, we’ve moved from the flame to filament to bluelight.
Light used to be a daily place around which families would gather. The fireplace, the only source of heat or light after dark, where people could gather and tell stories of their day, connect, and spend time together. Even today there’s a longing to gather around a firepit, a romantic candlelit dinner, or the beautiful glow of those candles on Christmas Eve.
Over the last two years, our churches have become the light of the world via that very different tone of “blue light” via zoom, livestream, and digital ministry. Maybe for you that’s been life-giving, or maybe you’re ready to throw away the smartphone and retreat to candles and the campfire for an indefinite sabbatical.
What if the answer is that we can do both?
What if that blue light which we need to buy glasses to block the impact could be the light in the darkness for someone desperately in need of holding a candle in honor of a savior this coming Christmas Eve?
What if, much like the church bells reminded all in town about the church’s presence, that we could look at online ministry as a place to joyfully and consistently show God’s word in the midst of peoples’ days and be light to their darkness?
What if instead of continuing the trend of un-gathering and isolation often equated with our individual devices and smartphones that the church took back technology as a tool to present the gospel to those who are searching for answers but may not know they are searching for Jesus?
As families and communities scattered from gathering around the fire or the one family television to having dozens of devices in a 4 person household in their own corners or not even talking at the dinner table…. The church too often stood aside and simply said “What a shame.”
It’s now our turn to use that bluelight to bring people together. Friends, I’m certainly glad that Jesus came to us through the incarnation and not through an e-mail or a website; but if Jesus was around today I’m sure he would be spreading God’s word using flame, filament, and bluelight.
But even with all the technology in the world… We’re still attracted to a flame at the end of a wick. The church still sees this candle as sacred. Despite all the new technology, there’s nothing like the simple holiness of a single flame. The still of the morning or the quiet of night being met with a candle. Sharing stories around a fire. Lifting a candle to Silent Night on Christmas Eve….. All the newness humanity can ever imagine doesn’t change the sacred.
The same is true with communication as with light….. We don’t leave the candle just because of the lightbulb. We don’t leave those personal, face-to-face relationships for a new app or website.
The one on one, heart to hearts are still the flame that we long for. However, to get to the sacred, we are also called to live in the functional. All this new media, new ways to connect, to be reminded, to be present in places we never could have imagined… It’s all new ways to reach the lost and the lonely.
Practical Implication: Be a part of upcoming Capital District conversations and trainings around how we use the blue light digital media to bring people together in Christ’s name. Want to help select our first offerings starting this summer? Fill in this short survey to help point the new Innovation, Communications, and Evangelism team in the direction you need to support your local church ministries. https://forms.gle/MsGJ2uN3B8TCDnw5A