Do you remember’ wonder web’ of old? To read the packaging you would have thought it would banish stitching forever. All you had to do was place some of the miracle product between the two pieces of fabric to be joined, apply an iron, and the job was done! I suspect it was not always quite that easy, and it was rarely a permanent fix.
To read what some Christians write about the WWW, you would think that it is a universal panacea for all the church’s ills. With it we will increase our connectivity with the world, up our game in terms of accessibility, and improve our image at a stroke. I do not believe it is so. Nor do I believe those who say that a local minister like me should not ‘waste his time’ online when he should be out pressing the flesh, so to speak.
A week or so ago, over breakfast, I struck up a conversation over Twitter with the owner of a local art gallery who was having problems with making Twitter work for her business. I offered to give her some help, and visited later the same morning. I looked into the problem with her, advised on some changes, and directed her to another local shop who are excelling with their use of social media for business. Then we got onto other things. She commented on the fact that her son was coming on a visit to my church with his primary school that afternoon, and that she thought children should know about God. We then got onto “what does a minister do”, the importance of spiritual foundations, and her appreciation for my involvement with the business community. As I left, I promised to visit again in a month to see how Twitter was going, and to enjoy another very pleasant conversation. Many hours later she tweeted that “you made my day better”, and that her son had felt the church visit was “alright’.
To have such a conversation with any member of the local community is a precious, precious thing, and I thank God for it. I have been sitting here trying to think of all the factors which led to it, and have mind-mapped them below. However, there are two things I have NOT done in what you see. Firstly, I have not distinguished by colour or shape those things which are online and those which are offline. Maybe the difference doesn’t matter? Nor have I drawn connectors between the different factors which led to that particular conversation – it was just too complicated to do so.
I thank God for any opportunity to serve the local community, both online and offliine, and leave you with these thoughts:
- Don’t get defensive when people accuse you of wasting time online – prove its worth instead
- Don’t waste time online
- Do good and be generous with time and talent, and let God worry about the ‘agenda
- Always, always bathe your ministry, your conversations and your encounters in prayer – something which I need to do far more