Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Hey Pastor, Social Media Has Changed

I had lunch with a ministry friend of mine recently and the topic of social media came up. Let me set the table if you will by sharing a couple of things about my friend before I get to the main point. First, he is a seasoned minister of the gospel that I have tremendous respect for who loves Jesus Christ and telling others who Jesus is and why they need to have a relationship with Him.  When it comes to sharing Jesus, he is the kind of Christian everyday most of us should be. Second, he is not exactly what one would refer to as being technologically savvy.

I’ve been encouraging him to become more engaged with social media and thought that maybe this would be a good blog to post. So, with that, let me share the gist of my thinking on this.

Pastor, and associate pastor and music minister and every other minister in the church: social media has changed. Let me explain. Once upon a time, social media was an odd thing on the Internet that college students, and later much younger kids, used to stay in touch with each other. Before Facebook and MySpace were the kings of the nascent social media landscape, there were Black Board Systems (BBS) back before the Internet became the widely used tool it is today.

Along came CompuServe where files could be exchanged and access news and other events were possible. Then along came America Online (AOL) and many people were introduced to what they thought was the Internet. Remember, “you’ve got mail?” Times have changed friends.  Facebook and MySpace sprang up but those were not the last of the social media services that would come along. In fact, much of the Internet has become an interactive environment where we can find the best local restaurants in the area; determine who does the best job with automotive or home repairs, and receive traffic warnings all in real-time. 

What was once a very narrow niche has become a critical communication tool for pastors and ministers to use as part of their overall communication strategy. As leaders, we communicate and social media provides us with another opportunity to build relationships and move our ministry forward. In addition to this blog, I also actively use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram (see links on the About Me page). There are others but these are the services I choose to use.

My long-time readers will recall that I have written here about social media in the past and my thinking about these services has changed over time. Social media is no longer something that can be ignored. Not only should churches actively use these vital communication tools but ministers of the gospel should be doing so as well. An online presence that is strategically aligned with your goals will go a long way towards furthering your ministry.

Need help getting started. I am happy to help any way I can.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Final Stretch - EdD Progress

For those of my readers who are not connected to me via social media, you may not be aware that my educational journey is winding down and I can see the end of my doctoral studies. In January of this year, I successfully passed comprehensive exams and defended my research prospectus. Once approval from the ethics committee was received (required since my research involved working with people), I began my research. Though it was not exactly an easy thing, I managed to locate and complete interviews with 30 young people who met the criteria for my study.

With the data collection completed, I have moved into analysis and writing mode. Arriving at this point is not only significant in terms of the progress on my thesis; it is also a huge relief for me. Still, the amount of work remaining was large. Further putting stress on me is the fact that I was unable to complete the interviews when I had anticipated leaving me with less time to complete the analysis of the data and my writing. With that in mind and after much prayer, we felt the best thing for me to do was to step down from my place of employment and work on finishing this as my full time job.

Stepping out in faith, I resigned my position and July 15 left my place of employment to be a student full time. I am pleased to report that I am now moving along at a pace that I am comfortable with. The defense draft of my thesis is due September 15, 2015 and I do not anticipate any issues completing the document by the date. Further, oral defense will be October 2, 2015 on campus. The following week, I will visit Montana for the first time to present my research, along with my research partner, to a meeting of people from the Montana Southern Baptist Convention fulfilling one of the key requirements for graduation.

I am hopeful that I will be able to return to blogging a bit more regularly as my time at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary draws to a conclusion. Being part of the 2013 Doctor of Education cohort has been a tremendous blessing and will impact the rest of my life and ministry. There is still work to do but I am in the final stretch and am eager to reach the end with a strong finish.

As always, I covet your prayers and greatly appreciate your encouragement. We are on an incredible journey and it is pure joy to be able to share it with you.