Much has changed since I first arrived in the Philippines over nine years ago.
One of the most precious possessions I brought was my Dell laptop. I believe it was an Inspiron 8100, and it was a pretty good computer in its time. Having a laptop was kind of a big deal in those days. I remember my roommate discouraged me from carrying it around with me, afraid someone may try to steal it. I don’t guess leaving the apartment with it would have done much good anyway, since WiFi spots weren’t that common (I don’t even remember if that particular model had a WiFi card).
A few years later I upgraded to a Dell Inspiron 8600. That one is still sitting on my desk at my apartment–a monument to how quickly technology becomes obsolete. It still works pretty well, though it looks like I’ve cooked it in a microwave. That old Dell is my “public” computer: I allow students to use it if they want to check their email, type something, or play around on Facebook after Bible study.
Filipino students also introduced me to social networking. I dropped by an internet cafe one day during lunch and noticed almost everyone was on the same website: Friendster (this was back in 2003 or 2004 I guess). I figured I should start my own account–one more way to connect with students.
How times have changed!
Laptops are no longer a rare commodity, even among college students. Students no longer ask me if I have a Friendster account, but Facebook is another story. The jury is still out on whether or not Google+ will be the “next big thing.”
There’s a point to my rambling (I think): technology gives us unique opportunities in terms of ministry–especially when it comes to reaching students.
This blog, for example, began as an experiment of sorts (back in 2006). The whole TLW/purity seminar thing was growing beyond my expectations. I wanted to have some way to inspire and encourage those students whom I may not get to interact with personally. The ongoing blogging adventure has resulted in two books, a radio show, and a few TV appearances (I’m still waiting on my modelling contract with Clear Dandruff Shampoo).
I hope those of you in ministry are also taking advantage of technology–I’m afraid some ministries are still under-utilizing this invaluable medium. I’ll give you a few suggestions:
1. Start a blog for your church or ministry.
Don’t be intimidated–it’s really pretty easy: if you can use email (like gmail or yahoo), then you can blog. Still afraid you can’t do it? Ask one of the students in your church to give you some pointers. There are plenty of free blogging platforms (like Blogger or WordPress).
It’s fine to also create a Facebook page (more on that later). But I think you should focus more of your energy on a blog or website independent from Facebook (or other social media sites). This allows people to learn about your ministry anonymously if they wish (they don’t have to “like” or join the group to read your content). Your own blog/website will also help ensure your content remains accessible and in a relevant format. Many people now regret the time they spent developing ning and multiply blogs/groups.
2. Create a social media team.
You already have church members (especially students) who know how to blog and use social media. Ask for a few volunteers to redeem the time they are now wasting on Farmville or Mafia Wars. This team can help you keep everyone updated about ministry events, sermon topics, etc.
3. Use Social Media to Disseminate Information
It’s fine to create a Facebook fan page/group for your ministry (I’ve done this myself http://facebook.com/kuyakevin).
But don’t stop there: encourage members to post events from your ministry blog on their Facebook wall, Twitter accounts, etc. Most of your church members (especially students) have a Facebook account with at least a few hundred friends in them–it is a 100% free way to advertise and invite people to worship and other ministry events.
I hope this post has given you some helpful suggestions.
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