5 Reasons Every Pastor Should Be Online
According to a Barna Study on the State of Pastors, the average age of pastors in the United States is 54. I reference this number because what this age of 54 tells me is that the great majority of pastors in America were born long before the internet because a phenomenon. You were probably not raised around computers. Technology and the internet are like foreign languages or foreign countries. Most pastors just don’t understand it.
For those under 30 though, the internet and all that it brings is a vital, integral part of their lives. They live, eat and breathe around their access to the internet.
I’m going to make the case why you, a pastor, should be online. In fact, I’ll give you five reasons why you should find a way to become visible in some form online.
1. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION
I get it. You weren’t raised with technology. You got along perfectly well without the internet for most of your life. Sure you see the benefit of ready access to news, email, text messages and the like but it doesn’t dominate your life.
That isn’t how the younger generation sees it. For them, social media and text messaging represent their most important method of staying in contact with their friends. Whether they are thinking about buying a house, going out to eat somewhere, looking for a new outfit or just plain bored, the first place they’ll go for ideas and answers is the internet.
The same goes for their interest in religion. The Internet represents a major opportunity for reaching the masses for Christ but it also represents a major challenge. It poses a challenge for a number of reasons but a big one is that no matter what truth or viewpoint you express, chances are, there is a persuasive counter argument online somewhere. Since young people are trained to be critical and naturally suspicious of authority, they will often seek out opposite viewpoints just to make sure that what you are saying makes sense.
Being accessible online means that young people can reach you quickly when they have questions from what they’ve viewed online or from objections or questions their friends threw at them.
2. YOUR PARISHIONERS ARE SPENDING LOTS OF TIME ONLINE
Have you seen the numbers on how much time people spend on Facebook every day or the percentage of people who even check their Facebook account daily? Here are just a few facts for you to consider:
- Worldwide, there are over 2.01 billion monthly active Facebook users for June 2017 (Facebook MAUs) which is a 17 percent increase year over year. (Source: Facebook 7/26/17)
- 66% of Facebook monthly users were reported to use it daily.
- Nearly four in 10 millennials (39%) say they interact more with their smartphones than they do with their significant others, parents, friends, children or co-workers (Bank of America Study referenced here)
3. SMARTPHONES ARE BECOMING THE PRIMARY MEANS OF TAKING IN INFORMATION
A 2015 survey by Pew Research showed that among all age groups, at least one third couldn’t bear being separated from their smartphones. It is higher for the younger generations.
4. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WAYS TO COMMUNICATE ONLINE FOR FREE
Do you have a Facebook account? Yes? Then use it to post positive content. Speak to your church members as well as your friends list. Don’t want to send a message to all of your Facebook friends but only to your church members? No problem, Facebook has an answer for that. You can limit posts to any custom list of people you want.
Don’t have a Facebook account? No problem, if you don’t want to use Facebook, you have plenty of other options. Tumblr.com allows you to create a free blog. Go there, create a blog and then put the link in your church’s communication items / bulletins / programs.
If you know how to use an iPhone or Android phone, you can take short videos (preferrably under 5 minutes) and give people updates of what you are doing or a thought you just had while thinking about / researching / preparing your weekly talks. Get people interested in the topic you are going to be teaching about. Use either of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Youtube to get the message out.
5. YOU HAVE AT LEAST ONE PERSON IN YOUR CHURCH WHO CAN TEACH YOU THE BASICS
Don’t know where to start? Don’t know what to do? Ask around at your local church or among your colleagues. Chances are, one of them is a techie and can walk you through the basics. Ignorance isn’t a reason to ignore the online world. You can be trained. You can go from zero to hero. All it takes is a decision.