Editing endless hours of sermon audio and video content. Uploading file after file after file. After. Stinking. File. Tediously designing countless original digital and social media graphics on a daily basis. Creating, drafting, sketching, producing, and branding your pastor's sermon series artwork and note templates completely from scratch. Rounding up professional graphic design and video editing software on your own dime because the church you serve doesn't have the budget for it. Faithfully manning cameras and laptops during the morning worship service. Feverishly running power cables, mic cords, and instrument direct boxes across the stage 20 minutes before that pesky countdown video hits the screens. Double and triple checking the livestream software only to watch it gloriously implode as your lead pastor utters the most brilliant and impactful line in the last 20 years of his preaching.
This is the labor of digital ministry, right? Isn't this what we all signed up for when we said we wanted to be one of those fancy Church Communicators?
Eh, well, sort of. But, not really. Something is rather amiss here.
It's easy to only perceive the "exterior" of Church Communications. You know: the digital content, the technology, the hardware, the software, the extravagant visuals. After all, that's what we "take in." We experience that part with our eyes and our ears. We see devices. We see graphics. We watch and listen to video. We hear sermon audio podcasts.
But, the beating heart of true digital ministry — at its core — is an unmistakable, ever-present factor: ministry. See, our eyes tend to gloss right over that word because the word "digital" sits in front of it. And for whatever reason, particularly in the Local Church of 2023, these two words are assumed to be oxymorons. There's just no way they're supposed to coexist. Give me 10 minutes and I'll give you 10 pastors who would actually argue that they shouldn't coexist. [Seriously, I've had these conversations.]
I beg to differ. These two things are meant to coexist. So, for the sake of simplicity, let's break this down with a little "is not" and "is."
Digital ministry is not the ability to design an incredible graphic and post it to your church's three social media platforms in under two seconds flat.
Digital ministry is the ability to manage those three social media platforms with a pastor's shepherding touch so that community is built, connection happens, people are drawn to Christ, relationships grow, lost sheep desire to walk through the doors of the church, faith is strengthened on a daily basis by recurring Scripture and truth, and lives are forever changed because of the Gospel of Jesus.
Digital ministry is not editing video content for the sake of editing.
Digital ministry is editing video in a way that brings the message of Jesus, the hope of the Gospel, and the anthem of His love and grace to an entire demographic of individuals who may never have even heard it until they stumbled across your church's platform and digital content.
See the difference? This isn't rocket science.
I tell pastors and church leaders all the time that I like to think of digital ministry sort of like your town or city's best local coffee shop. It's that place, that thing, that special environment around and in which people gather, build relationships, converse, dialogue, meet with family and friends, laugh, cry, and network with one another in ways that they might not elsewhere. Sure, the coffee shop is cool. You might even argue that it's essential. But, at the end of the day, it's not the primary focus. It's not about the lighting, the tables, the number of beverage flavor options, or even the catchy jazz tune playing over the in-house audio system. The focus is what's happening between the people. The focus is their experience. Are we allowing ourselves to be brought together in a united way as the Local Church — as the Body of Christ — so that we can be restored, healed, increasingly Christlike, and always partnering with our Savior in His mission to love, ransom, and deliver this broken world?
Yes, digital ministry is still ministry.
And, for the sake of lost souls across this world who desperately need Jesus, you should totally care about it.
It might not look, smell, act, or function like the "ministry" you're used to. It might utilize different tools, gadgets, and gizmos than you ever dreamed possible.
But don't get lost in the "how."
Digital ministry is less about the "how." It's more about what we're doing, why we're doing it, and, ultimately, it's about who we are doing it for. [That's Jesus, by the way.]
What do you think? 🤔 How do you define digital ministry? 💻🙏 Drop your thoughts into the comment thread below. 👇