Pastoral ministry is an ever changing art. Many remember the time when most of the pastor’s time was spent preparing to preach, leading “services” and visiting people in the hospital and in their homes. The complexity of ministry today and the ever-changing demands of leading a church in faithful and fruitful ways have forced more and more pastors to limit and/or re-prioritize the way they shepherd the flock that has been entrusted into their care.
Increasingly people “cocoon” – either physically by making themselves less and less accessible in their homes or emotionally via their personal communication devices like an iPhone. Phones have caller IDs to screen out unwanted calls and visitation often requires an appointment, even if there is room in their busy schedule (or that of the pastor).
Probably one of the most significant changes is that more and more of our culture interacts via the Internet. That tool is filled with liabilities and limitations, but like the Roman Road in the first century that facilitated the spread of the apostolic gospel, the Internet is a Roman Road of even greater communication potential.
Pastors in the 21st century need to make wise use of the Internet to “connect” with their people in the circumstances of the 21st century. For example, a Facebook page for the pastor that is connected to his parish via “friending” gives the pastor a steady flow of information(often uncensored and surprisingly transparent) on what is going on in the lives of his people. Simple “likes” to a post remind people that you are paying attention. “Comments” give you an easy and welcome way to encourage them when they post. And when your pastoral antennae go up, a “private message” can offer prayer or an invitation to meet to help counsel or mentor them.
A church Facebook Page, with pastor as one of the administrators, gives the pastor a ready way to offer encouragement, equipping, and even continuing dialogue on last Sunday’s sermon. An online
blog that is syndicated to the community gives you one more tool for that pastoring.
Churches effective in the 21st century have an on-line pastoral presence. Does yours?
(C) 2013 by Stephen L. Dunn
This post is from a book in its pre-publication phase called PASTORAL MINISTRY ON-LINE: Serving an Internet Community