eMinistry - Virtual Pathways for Spiritual Leadership by Rev. Dr. Lauren Speeth by Rev. Dr. Lauren Speeth - Read Online
eMinistry - Virtual Pathways for Spiritual Leadership
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Summary

When we have questions, whether they be questions of fact or faith, where do we go in search of answers?  More and more the answer these days is the internet.

With over 2.4 billion of us online today, being internet savvy is essential for spiritual leaders. Rev. Dr. Lauren Speeth’s eMinistry - Virtual Pathways for Spiritual Leadership serves as a guide for ministers looking to learn how to effectively communicate and expand their ministry online.

Written by a lifetime computer programmer and specialist in eMinistry, this book uses real-life examples from eMinistry websites to concisely detail:
• How to craft a message that works for you and for others.
• Messages: what works, what doesn’t, and why.
• Social media – building bridges and growing your ministry.
• The basics of creating an effective website.
• Learn the language of color, font, symbol and imagery.
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ISBN: 9780985975333
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eMinistry - Virtual Pathways for Spiritual Leadership - Rev. Dr. Lauren Speeth

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Speeth

INTRODUCTION

WWW…WWJD?

Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. (Mark 16:15)

Welcome to the virtual world where it’s possible to reach out across the street or a across the world in the same nanosecond to invite people of great diversity into one small, interconnected global village. Talk about daunting… and empowering! It does take a savvy communicator to navigate this new world effectively, and my goal is to empower you and your church or ministry to go forth confidently and competently. Whether you’re just putting a toe in the virtual waters, or you’re looking for ways to expand and deepen your current connections, let this be your guide.

If your faith is like mine, your charge is not just to do it but to live it – in the world. Every day. In every place. Well, today much of our everyday happens in a virtual place. We shop, date, chat, work, and learn there, it just makes sense that we should be spiritually connected in virtual ways, as well. Scripture says, "Go into all the world…". Would the disciples have engaged in internet evangelism if the web had been around back in the day? With over seven billion people spending a good part of their day there, I’m betting yes. Would the disciples have written blogs about the Sermon on the Mount from their mobile devices? Why not? Would they have shared images of the wedding at Cana to give witness to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry? I can certainly imagine it.

The point is there are exciting new virtual pathways offering incredible possibilities for connecting to the people you want to reach. And spiritual leaders on every front are taking advantage of these new opportunities.

I think that a good website is becoming the doorway and place of first impressions for many church visitors. I now run into visitors who recognize me and call me by name because they have seen my photo on the website, and they come with much more background information on our ministry. Often on Fridays, I will meet some new folks who say, I was looking online for a Friday evening worship service, and I found (ours). These folks arrive from as far away a San Francisco and San Jose. So, I greatly value an interesting, easy-to-navigate website for the church. And we have a good webdesigner.

– Pastor J. K., Burlingame CA

A proud Luddite for years, I’m finally warming up to the web. Posting outreach events on neighborhood group sites has helped bring so many potential new members to our church. It’s been a wonderful way to introduce ourselves to neighbors who might be looking for a church and also a way to get the word out about events we sponsor and activities we provide that are of interest to the community.

- Rev. R. M., Oakland CA

I’m fascinated with this topic! I’ve now been in three different congregations each with different approaches to their web site and web ministry, and find, as a pastor, that navigating this can be really tricky. It can be wrought with «church politics» as well as technical issues.

- Pastor L. M., Oakland, CA

When I was building the website, I mostly needed help with how to best market my own brand, which is not particular to ministry.

- Rev. Dr. K. S., Cambridge MA

We totally depend on the web to register people and get them the info they need for their upcoming attendance at the retreat as well as pertinent payment methods and the like. Because we are in a kind of ministry that has a high degree of spiritual warfare, we do not advertise anywhere. The ministry happens because God has ministered to people who then go home and tell their friends and family about the deliverance they received and the love and care that they have felt during the weekend. Although the web is a public domain, it allows us a certain degree of anonymity. People come from all over the U. S. and from several countries to receive ministry and need to feel safe and secure in their surroundings. Sometimes people share very intimate personal life stories, so flying somewhat under the radar is good. I am not sure if this helps with your thoughts about web ministry, but I thought I would share what the web means to us and how we use it to minister Luke 4:18-19 to those whom God entrusts to our care.

– Pastor R. M., Southeast GA

Totally agree with necessity of it. More and more people stay at home for various reasons, but spend more and more time on internet. I am not sure it is possible to create web-community, since church is all about community. However, as for individuals, who are so lonely, it might be a great opportunity to be ministered. It can be pastoral consultation, certain resources for spiritual journey, chat-room. There are plenty of opportunities and challenges for individuals. As for community – that’s harder.

- Pastor AV, Davis CA

I hope the content you find on the following pages will both inform and motivate you. I also hope it inspires you to take a deep, honest look at your congregation or ministry. If you do, I believe you’re likely to learn a good bit about your true vision, about who you are, what you care about, what you want to convey and to whom.

There’s much practical information inside this book on everything from developing an eMinistry strategy to building an effective web site to maximizing the potential of social media. And I’ve included thought-starters, strategic worksheets, step-by step how-to instructions, examples of hits and misses, plus a number of tools you can copy and use to help make your journey onto the virtual world more effective.

One warning: when it comes to privacy and security issues, WWW might just as well stand for Wild, Wild West. Things aren’t tightly regulated on the virtual landscape and unfortunately, there’s a lot to be wary of especially on the internet. Just like the old west, it’s everyone for him/herself. There is a sheriff, but it’s still mayhem. The last section of the book warns of some of the scams and treachery lurking out there and provides advice on how to avoid and combat trouble that may come your way.

Because technology is constantly changing, I know that some examples on these pages are going to be obsolete even before we go to press. But I believe that the principles and concepts here will hold true and I hope the information you glean will be helpful for years to come.

Finally, while the examples and much of the discussion is directed primarily to leaders of Christian churches and ministries, the information transcends sect and will help you accomplish your online goals, no matter what your religion or spiritual ministry might be.

WISDOM OF THE SEVEN PILLARS

Because they’re relevant to any undertaking, I recommend you review the Seven Pillars for Social Entrepreneurs¹ before you roll up your sleeves and get to work. The Seven Pillar methodology, inspired by former U.S. President James Earl Jimmy Carter, can be a useful guide for developing your vision and creating your eMinistry presence. In a nutshell, the Pillars advise: Use your vision and your special skills in a way that fills a chasm. Work in partnership with others, sharing the credit with your partners. Obtain valid feedback so you can stay on course, and then stay for the long haul, even when the going gets rough.

Illustration: The Seven Pillars

Source: Intelligence & Compassion in Action

When applied to a ministry setting, the vision could be anything from sharing the Word, to healing the sick, feeding the hungry, ministering to the incarcerated, spreading peace with justice, and so on. The special skills will vary from ministry to ministry. A knack for eMinistry is, itself, a special skill.

Although you may not see faith as a special skill – it truly is a gift from God – all special skills are a gift, and your gift for sharing your faith is the special skill that lies at the core of all your ministry efforts. So is a deep, nuanced understanding of the Bible combined with the ability to show its’ relevance for today. Don’t discount any skill or personal knowledge. Even painful personal experiences can enhance empathy, leading to more skillful pastoral care or communication.

The world has so many gaping needs that it’s easy to be non-duplicative. This means finding your niche, not reinventing the wheel. It’s okay – even wise – to copy the best practices of others. And there are many opportunities to work in partnership in the real world and in the virtual world. As you work with others to imagine and realize your online vision remember to embrace credit sharing, and be open to constructive feedback. Your call to ministry is lifelong; beginning or strengthening your e-presence allows you to stay the course, answering that call for as long as you can access a keyboard.

1 Speeth, Lauren. Intelligence & Compassion in Action; The Seven Pillars for Social Entrepreneurs. Burlingame: Elfenworks Productions Press, 2012.

ONE

FOCUS YOUR VISION

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making the appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:20

With all the amazing new technology at your fingertips, if you can dream it, chances are you can make that dream a reality in the virtual world. In fact, the opportunities to spread the Good News and communicate your message are nearly unlimited. Focusing first on your vision will help define the route, or hopefully routes, you chose to take, and honing in on the audiences you want to reach will help provide the map for your virtual journey.

VIRTUAL OPPORTUNITIES

The following are just a few opportunities to consider for your eMinistry:

Presence that Supports an Existing Church

If creating and maintaining a presence on the internet for your church hasn’t been a priority, now is the time to make it one – especially when you consider that between 80% and 85% of those shopping for a church today find their way into a pew through online research². A website that represents your church or ministry is the first step. It’s one of the best ways to attract new visitors, to stay connected to your existing congregation and get the message out about upcoming events, activities, prayer requests and more. Once you’ve taken that first step, expanding into social media or going mobile are other pathways to get and stay connected.

Presence Promoting a Specific Ministry or Mission

Whether you’re raising money for a local food pantry, inviting participation in a nursing home initiative, operating a rotating shelter, or building awareness for a domestic or international social justice issue, the virtual world can be used as a gathering place, a point of dissemination, and a tool. There’s no faster, better and cheaper way to reach both members of your congregation and those outside the church who are drawn to a particular issue or topic than doing so virtually. Adding social networking and reaching out with mobile applications offer other interesting opportunities.

Presence that Targets Specific Audiences

How you reach out to teens is different from how you reach out to new mothers, and both are different from how you reach out to elders. How you reach academic researchers is different from how you reach theologians, and both are different from how you reach casual readers from various demographic groups. Different language, different tone, different sensibility, and different methods apply. If you’re building a website, targeting specific sections to different audiences is a great way to maximize your connection and promote programs, links, activities of special interest to a smaller group within your congregation, as well as outside your church. If you’re building something else, the same idea applies. And social media offers a great opportunity to communicate directly with different audiences in a timely way.

Apps that Edify

You may be inspired to teach, and see the virtual world as a way to extend your reach, knowing that anything that you could teach on a small scale can be extended more widely. There are already apps, blogs, and interactive pages to help seekers learn Biblical Hebrew and Greek, and to gain insight into Bible passages. There are more Bible apps than days in a year, and the number is growing. What is lacking is your unique voice, your way of