Monday, January 19, 2009

The Power of Facebook in ministry

Facebook has been around for quite awhile now, but has recently surged in popularity. For those not aware of it, Facebook is a "social networking" website. Once you start an account (it's free by the way), you can connect with other "friends" on Facebook and stay in touch. I must say that I tried it just as an experiment at first. I knew that my teenage daughter would approach me at some point about it and I wanted to be aware of how it worked and what is was about. I figured that as an "old guy" I would not connect with many "friends" (20-03 or so was my guess, tops) but I thought it would be worth playing with. Well I just broke 200 friends and I am finding more people all the time.

So what does this have to do with ministry?

First, connecting with people is what ministry is really all about. Some of my Christian friends have posted very encouraging notes on my "wall." (NOTE - once you accept someone as your friend, they can write on your "wall" - this is a place in your profile to leave you notes and stay in touch). Others have written short articles to teach and encourage others about their Christian walk. All of this is ministry!

Secondly, you can connect people together and inform them about a specific need. We have a good friend, Hannah Duke, who is seriously ill. This young 14-year-old woman needs our prayers - that is where Facebook came in. Facebook allows users to create interest "groups" and then invite your friends to join the group. Once you join the group you can write on the group "wall" and the Administrators of the group can post updates and information as needed. One of Hannah's teen Facebook friends started a Facebook Group called "Prayers for Hannah" and invited all of her Facebook friends to join the group and offer prayers on Hannah's behalf. Hannah herself was invited, as was her family. To date, over 470 people have joined this group! Both Hannah and her family have been very encouraged by the notes left on the group wall and the number of people who are praying for them. That is ministry!

Thirdly, you can let people know about events and causes that need their attention. We have posted a group to help let people know about our annual lectureship. This year's theme is "More Than Conquerors: A Study in Joshua." To date more than 250 people have joined the group. Now I realize that doesn't mean that 250 are planning to attend the lectures, but a great many people now know about it! As more details about the lectureship are finalized we can update the group by simply posting this information on Facebook!

Here is another example - I have a good friend that is working on a church plant in the Tacoma, Washington area. He is looking for supporters and people interested in this work. He could create a Facebook group about the church plant. Show people pictures of the area, talk about why the church is so desperately needed in that part of the country. Give people a way to contact him or maybe even donate online using PayPal. Think of the connections that could be made. He may even be able to connect with people in the Tacoma area that want to be a part of this new congregation. That is ministry!

If we will just learn to look at some of these new technologies with spiritual eyes - we may see a world of new ways to teach, preach and edify. Brothers and sisters, THAT is ministry!

Michael Hite's Facebook profile

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