Social Media: Spiritual Medium

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Matthew 9:37-38

This begs the questions: a) Where is the harvest? and b) are there only a few in the field?

Back in 2018, and for the umpteenth time I found myself in a long range planning committee. I don’t want that to sound derogatory; these kinds of things are important for the future of a Church. More than that, long range planning is vital to future vitality of the church. I sat in silence for most of the meeting and listened to conversations about future staffing, programming and building needs. When it floated around to me, I surprised myself. I began spouting off things which I had not taken time to organize or prepare. It’s not that I was not supportive of the direction of the conversation, but I was distracted by conflicting thoughts in my head.

“There are too many statistics that predict a continued decline in the Church. We can beat every creative drum in Christendom to get folks in our building, but I’m not sure the masses will flood our doors. I’m all for planning for the best and expecting God to bless our efforts! But maybe we should spend less time trying to get folks here and work on meeting them there.

“It seems to me that humanity is content with everything they can find on their phone. And if it can’t be realized immediately in the palm of their hand, it is not valuable. What if every staff person spent half of their time converting their ministry to be accessible by phone? Is that crazy?

“What if every youth minister re-imagined themselves and re-organized their time to provide youth ministry on the phone? Just imagine what important topics could a youth director address which could lay in cyberspace waiting for a concerned parent to search for spiritual perspectives on raising teenagers. Aren’t you curious about what relevant topics with scriptural references could be tapped into when a faithful kid researches “failure” or “disappointment” or “peer-pressure” and the first place they look is a viral message from their youth minister. It would be so cool.

“I can imagine a children’s minister spending half of their time creating prayers for parents to recite with their children at meals, before school, at bedtime, when hurt, at birthdays or before a test? I can envision every Sunday school lesson given on a Sunday morning to be duplicated on-line for families who are out of town.

“Could an adult educator, when creating curriculum for Adult Studies, take an hour to duplicate it in a blog for commuters or home-bound? I can see such a blog passed from one person to another in evangelism like we would never get within our doors.

“I imagine musicians recording hymns for folks to find on their phone and give them a home-grown sacred option sung by people they know in place of secular options? It would be so easy to feature soloists and children’s choirs and give them a new and extended audience.

“What if preachers spent as much time creating short inspiring messages people could find instantly in their hand as they do creating long messages for the folks who walk in our door at a specific time on a specific day? I think it would be cool if preachers presided over communion so families in hotels could participate in the sacrament whenever and where-ever they desired. Is that sacrilege?

“It would be awesome for a mission coordinator, who normally collects donations in the fellowship hall, to take a tweet risk looking for anyone available to meet them at the food pantry to restock shelves later that evening? I can see the potential for random folks, who would never darken the door of a church, to respond to a social media plea for service and jump into action.

“How can pastoral care be expanded in social media? All I have to offer is my example. Some of you in this room have received my ridiculous “Pastoral Care Rap.”

 “Ok, let’s get personal. Church choir needs to happen with everyone in the room. But, one could take the time and create at-home rehearsals to include absent singers. More work? Yes. More involvement? Probably.

“I understand that there are hurdles. (Copyright is a thing if we are singing other people’s songs or use other people’s ideas but not impossible.) If you want me to think creatively for the next five years, if you want me to imagine out of the box, then I’m ready to dream beyond the four box walls of our building. I know we are all over-worked. I know this kind of energy would demand a sizable learning curve. And I’m not diminishing the value of what we do within this building. Community is vital to the Christian experience and I get that! I’m a total believer in what we do for God within this facility! But, maybe it’s time to re-imagine the ways we present the Gospel beyond our facility.

“I’m not saying anything new. I may be the last person to figure this out. There are ton of spiritual voices in the media medium. Why not ours? Why would we want our faithful families to look to other on-line resources for spiritual guidance while we stay out of the ballgame?

“I’m not so sure we need to double-down on this building. I’m not so sure we need more staffing or more programs for the folks who come here. Maybe we just need to widen the band-width in which we share what we believe.”

The long range planning committee didn’t know what to do with my rant. Now, thanks to the coronavirus, every church is exploring this territory. I doubt we will ever do church the same long after the virus is contained. And that could be a very excellent thing. If you know me, you are aware that I am not exactly up-do-date when it comes to social media. My presence in this conversation is comical. But I can’t silence that skeptical voice in my head that watches the church decline and not consider re-investing ministry in something that seems viable in the future.

Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

This begs the questions: a) Where is the harvest, and b) are there only a few in the field?

And in case you haven’t smelled it already, this is the foundation of “Sacred Chatter”. . .to reach into digital media as a spiritual medium. It’s kind of my own personal long range planning.

In the opening welcome and introduction to this website, I shared the Scripture that inspired this online adventure, I Tim 6:20. This text is also the origination of the name; “Sacred Chatter.” However, my intent is not to be a singular voice. I invite your voice to be a part of the “chat” and I base this on another of my favorite Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” I am considering how I can provoke love and good deeds in places beyond where I live. This is my attempt to enter into a Hebrews 10 conversation with you over social media.digitally. Now, I am interested in your feedback. Consider what provoking you can provide with your own Sacred Chatter.

What’s important to you? What really matters?

Add your voice in Sacred Chatter.

Love is ours to provoke. Good deeds are ours to sew.

That the wisdom of Hebrews 10 may flourish and grow.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re potential mediums for the Hebrews 10 plan.

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    This really hit home with me. I randomly pulled up your blog and listened one morning when my reality was especially daunting – as if God had lead me. Over the past few years, and especially recently, isolation was my new normal. I had to abandon anything that allowed me the freedom to come and go as I’d like. I received a great deal of judgment and little support through those times, and it weighed heavily on me.
    I will forever remember the words of a youth group volunteer. I was worried about him over-extending himself during a big outdoor event, and I asked if they would mind letting him call me if he needed to be picked up. The response was, “I can’t imagine what there would be for him to do here.” Basically she was saying the church had nothing to offer for him or for me.
    For years, we were left without real options that were meaningful and met our spiritual needs. As our situation deteriorated, so did our connection with any traditional church situation. I felt guilt and sadness with the loss of that constant in my life and theirs.
    It wasn’t until lately that we were able to find that connection through the outreach of several online broadcasts, podcasts, and spiritual support groups. I’m sure that decades ago there were those who were outraged with televised worship. The use of social media is our present day answer to reaching those who aren’t able to attend regularly scheduled, brick and mortar services. Those opportunities recognized the need and met us where we were. Imagine that. Worship doesn’t have to be choregraphed and flashy. In fact, I have found amazing connection with the ability to now watch and participate in the services from the tiny church down in Tomball, Texas where I grew up worshipping. I can now connect with multiple ministries through grief support, divorce recovery, Bible study, and now you’ve added music to the mix. I’m wondering what the question is here now.
    He and I spent many Sundays this past spring watching services and listening to podcasts. It was what we could do. Hasn’t “the church” always visited the sick and homebound? I’ve participated in communion with both my father and my mother when they were in ICU beds. To me, there is an obvious correlation that many have already made. When going to the church isn’t an option, then we should be bringing the message to them – however possible.
    Please don’t think this a hokey reference, but this brings to mind “what would Jesus do?” I have no doubt that if that’s what people need to deepen their faith and connection based on their circumstances – the direction would be clear.
    In education these days, we are doing just that. When the kids can’t come to school, we bring school to them. The buzz word for this year is that when situations and needs change – PIVOT. I think it’s time for that “pivot” to happen, and I am grateful that you had the courage and, as usual, the vision to bring it to the table.
    He once said, “Mom, when I look into Tim’s eyes, I feel like I’m looking into the eyes of God. I feel like he’s really here to do God’s work.” No truer words. Thank you for having the courage to start this, and know that by doing what you are doing, you are reaching me – where I am.


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