Friday, November 13, 2015

7 Media Pro-tips that will Transform Your Ministry

There are no silver bullets. Okay, well there are, but they only work on vampires. Or you can invest in them as a flashy political gesture supposedly combatting inflation. For real.

But investing in silver bullion bullets is not the pro-tip of the day. The real pro-tip is around great digital media resources to improve ministry. Church leaders, and really anyone, can make use of these lesser known resources for sharing faith and strengthening disciples.

Add your other pro-tips in the comments. And enjoy your bullion!

The pastor pro-tip: Facebook Messenger Audio

Along the bottom of Facebook messenger, a series of icons allow you to send recipients different types of messages--standard text, photos, emojis, and now also video and audio messages. As a pastor, I have found it particularly helpful to send audio messages in response to prayer requests. Just click on the record button, record your message, and the recipient has audio of you praying out loud for their prayer concern. They can listen to it right away, later while they travel, or even play the prayer back for the person they sought prayer for.

The apostle pro-tip:

Imagine being able to host panel discussions frequently, teach distributed classes regardless of weather, or just chat with colleagues in an open format where others can listen, chime in via text. And record the conversation so others can listen later. That's Blab, and it's wacky wild, video conferencing on steroids. If you're considering teaching, leading worship, or organizing meetings on-line, I recommend you first check out the context and play around in it for a while first. Join Blab, and listen in on a few conversations. Browse around the community. Then compare Blab to a few other video-sharing resources to see which matches your creative intentions. Other great tools include Periscope, a video sharing site, and Go-to Meeting, a more traditional web conferencing resource.

The deacon pro-tip: Basecamp

Gather all your church council or board conversations into one devoted space, and declutter your e-mail inbox.  Create to-do lists, ping members to check in on their progress, initiate conversation threads, organize projects, post, share and edit documents, and develop a year round calendar that actively reminds the board about key actions and events.

The evangelist pro-tip: Youverse

The Bible on your cell phone. It is downloaded as frequently as Instagram (so far about 200,000,000 times). Increasingly dynamic and social, it's the go-to resource for bringing the bible into the 21st century.

The missionary pro-tip: Uber

Having trouble meeting your neighbors. Need a little extra cash. Sign up for Uber and start meeting people by driving them around town. Yes, you can use this tool to get a taxi. But at the top of the page you can also sign up to become a driver. If you don't like the driving so much, try Couchsurfing instead, and start sharing your house with others.

The prophet pro-tip: Online advocacy

Most senators get less mail than you think. If they get a stack of letters from constituents, they perk up. They might even change their vote. Really. And it takes less letters than you think. So join your denomination or favorite non-profit in their letter writing campaigns. My favorite and most frequent advocacy resources is Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

The teacher pro-tip: Blog

Some people think about starting blogs. Some actually do. Even less keep at it. Persistence is the key. Keep at it, and over time, you find your voice, discover your audience, and create a reliable body of resources people come back to over and over. It's easier than ever to blog. I'm a long-time fan and user of Blogger, but I also quite like the newly minted Medium, and am considering a more intentional relationship with my friends over at Patheos. To get a taste of the blogging world, check out this top 25 list of Christian blogs you should be reading.

Finally, a bonus insight. People keep saying people are leaving Facebook. It isn't true. Not only is Facebook growing, people are going back to it, and Facebook has way less inactive accounts than other digital media platforms. So if you want to be where most people are, Facebook is still the place. However, if you want to be on the platform that has the most influence on traditional media like television and radio and the news, opt for Twitter. Or if you just want to make a really cool Norwegian sweater, then I recommend Pinterest.

Oh, and keep reading and sharing Lutheran Confessions. With or without silver bullets.

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