[“Church Without…” is a series of think-pieces designed to slowly deconstruct what we think is essential to having church and to call attention to the hidden barriers we’ve erected between ourselves and the Great Commission.]
My dad is the state superintendent of all of the churches and ministers in my denomination. Before that, he was the pastor of one church for over twenty years. One of the things that best exemplified my dad’s ministry was an abundance of ideas. He was constantly thinking of new things to do, offer, etc. He was a constant innovator.
When we were finishing the construction of our new church building, he told me that one of his ideas was to eventually have a pastor on hand, in the building, twenty-four hours a day. He wanted the church to be open for prayer, light counseling, etc.
That never materialized, but that idea has always stuck with me. It was such a “people first” approach to ministry. Think about it: when are you more likely to be in a real crisis of faith, conscience, or just life in general? 10 in the morning or 10 at night?
With more and more churches shifting more and more of their parishioner interactions, their actual “shepherding,” to the internet, that idea seems all the more doable and, perhaps, even more, needed.
I’ve written previously about how social media venting only feeds our baser, animal instincts and does little to actually bring us to a place of peace and health. What if people had an outlet to vent or, in a manner of speaking, to confess to a minister through the internet at the moment of their crisis? Couldn’t we save people the damage of the social media bubble’s rush to validate them in their self-focussed venting? Couldn’t we help these people by hearing them, counseling them, and praying with them?
Using the internet, churches could unite with sister churches across the country, the world, to staff internet ministers, available around the clock, across the time zones. Would that be a difficult mission field, a difficult job to staff? Absolutely. But maybe it would be worth it?
The point in this series, in case I haven’t been clear, isn’t to tell churches what they should do but to begin conversations about what they could do.
Churches should look for ways to reach more people with the love of God and the truth of new life through Jesus. They could look at using internet ministers as a way to do that.