We all know they [social media apps] can never replace when you can look someone in the eyes, reach out a hand or give a reassuring hug. However, they can allow us to still be the hands and feet of Jesus to those we serve, even if we have to be in different places right now.
Over the past few weeks of quarantining and social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I have heard many people discussing the importance of maintaining community. If you’re like us, you’ve been scrambling to brainstorm new ways of continuing the work you do and maintaining a personal connection with those you serve, as well as those you serve with.
For many of us that work in ministry, we prefer face-to-face connections. Our disicpleship relationships are cultivated in coffee shops and living rooms, not through a TV or computer screen. Because of this, it’s hard for any of us to believe that real ministry, connection and community can take place online. However, just as the Church is not confined to a building, the Church is not confined to being in the same room.
There are many digital tools that are used to help us connect with others virtually, but here are a few I’ve found helpful in various ministry contexts:
If you’re a face-to-face kind of person looking to meet with a group all at once, Zoom is a great alternative. It allows for easy downloading, access and recording of video telephone calls. Even for those who deem themselves technologically challenged, I believe they will find Zoom easy to get on board with.
This is another great option for those who want to see people’s faces! It is essentially a video walkie talkie, allowing participants to record messages back and forth through a Phone app. You can use it to send messages one-on-one or with a group. One benefit is that participants can listen and respond as they have time and are not required to attend a live meeting.
Like it or not, Facebook is still king in the social media world – especially among the older generations. Most people are on it, know how to use it and are actively engaged in it, whether they post or not! Creating a Facebook group is a great way to maintain connection and stay engaged with your small group, leaders, and those you serve. You can share photos, videos, and prayer requests easily within Facebook groups.
Our team at Downline Memphis utilizes Slack to communicate with one another. It’s a great way to stay engaged, cuts down on our team e-mails, and helps everyone stay organized with what’s happening. We’ve found it to be a helpful tool for communicating work that needs to be done, but also sharing helpful articles, funny memes and prayer requests!
If you enjoy group texting but find it challenging due to not everyone having an iPhone, WhatsApp and GroupMe are great alternatives for sending out a group text and staying in touch. The messages come through a Phone app, not directly to your phone, helping to keep the communication organized and maintain sanity – those group texts can get crazy!
While these tools are helpful and useful, we all know they can never replace when you can look someone in the eyes, reach out a hand or give a reassuring hug. However, they can allow us to still be the hands and feet of Jesus to those we serve, even if we have to be in different places right now.
Despite the darkness that floods the Internet, I find great comfort thinking of the thousands of ministries, Churches and believers using the Internet for the glory of God and pointing others to the only one who can satisfy our souls – our Lord Jesus Christ.