- the possibility of getting pregnant, again;
- welcoming a new pastor to my church and fostering a new friendship;
- renewing my own body and spirit this summer with exercise, right eating, and spiritual disciplines;
- working on my relationship with my wife that the experience of this season would help us to deepen our relationship for the next.
Unfortunately… and I can only speak for the United Methodist Church, but our UM Communications and, in Illinois, our Conference Communication team make the church look old-fashioned (that’s honest, mostly, I suppose) and they move too slowly and carefully. Worse, they focus on communications rather than relationships! Our denominations are stymied and they make us look terrible (recently at our annual charge conference we were shown a video of our bishop that made him look like a used car salesman, oh- and the district office couldn’t provide my church a digital copy when asked!!!). But at the local church level and in our own communities we can now accomplish bigger things than they are even capable of with social media. Our reach can be effective in our local communities (even the most rural) and they can grow our local, walled churches… yet our reach can also,now, go well beyond our local communities and walled churches. When we effectively use the internet, social media, and blogging we can share faith, touch lives, and experience community in places that we never before dreamed possible.
- Make sure you have Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts and (and this is the really important part) grow your presence:
- Work hard to cultivate a following by:
- posting often
- posting quality and relational materials
- try not to use insider language
- continually adding friends / followers
- Look at other accounts / pages / walls / feeds and share interesting items
- Don’t be afraid to share personal things about yourself (within safety and reason). Use these avenues as a way to foster relationships!
- Get a blog account!!!
- There are several sites that can help you, I especially recommend: Blogger (by Google, just use your Google user/pass) or WordPress.
- Get your blog and social media accounts connected to your webpage. It makes your page more dynamic and personal.
- Share your blog by social media. It turns 140 characters into a full and on-going narrative.
- I can’t emphasize this enough: don’t be afraid to share your own personal stories, yet connect them to your faith.
- Keep it short. Think in terms of a 1/2 to full page of paper at most when you write your blog! (This blog post is pushing the limit)
- Keep your eyes peeled for new ways to connect online. If lots of people are using 4square or LinkedIn, etc…then go where the people are.
Paul used tent making to build relationships, John Wesley went out to the masses in England preaching in fields and cemeteries…I don’t know what it will look like entirely yet, but we have to find new venues and ways to build relationships and share our faith story! Now, in 2012, we must be a Pentecost people! We must feel the Holy Spirit as it enlivens us to share our faith and we must speak the languages that God is giving us the gift to speak. It is our time and our new and exciting world. Let’s share our faith as disciples of Christ!!!
Meet Rev. Dr. Mark Fowler
I have often thought of Pentecost and the activity of the Holy Spirit as wind and fire, of the birth of the church with thousands of folks swept up in the witness of Peter (although I have been amazed that the church does not utilize the scripture from Joel that Peter used in this “birth” sermon of the church, hmmm!) It is a dynamic and dramatic experience that is reported at Pentecost.
In an age when we are drawn to the “big show”, the dramatic increase in numbers, the pyrotechnic displays and the moment-by-moment sensory overload so central to our consumer culture, the Pentecost story could be easily exemplified as a reasonable expectation. Shouldn’t the people of God, using God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, use the craft and expect the results of Pentecost to draw the world?
In a time when the traditional church is in traumatic dislocation, loss of privilege, bereft of its traditional social influence and seemingly in disarray. At the recent United Methodist General Conference, proposals for changing ecclesiastical structures are left on the table, traditional covenants of ministry are tossed aside for a more effective way in which “only the temporally effective pastors are allowed to stay on the bus” (without a similar capacity for assessment being placed on the unassailable Episcopal office) and a casual vote declares a rather sizable number of delegates have put a restraint on the prevenient nature of the grace of God, a distinctive principal of the Methodist movement and a hallmark of its proclamation and effective evangelism. And, we all will move forward to try to capture lightening and wind in a bottle as an assurance of the future survival of the denominations.
For me this year, Pentecost has been preceded by a delightful bit of weather in Chicago. It has drawn me to the lakeside to sit and relax, reflect on the future. I have felt close to the experience of the disciples prior to the amazing events on Pentecost that gave birth to the church, a ten day retreat in the upper room. My mind flew to John Wesley prior to the Aldersgate Street experience that renovated his soul and was the source of the regeneration of the church through the birth of the Methodist movement. It came to clear memory that in a difficult turning point in my own ministry, that it was preceded by a time of wilderness in the desert southwest where I experienced the disorienting reality of my own life in the vast and unfamiliar landmarked desert.
In this anxious time for the church, we cannot fancy ourselves capable of doing the work of the Holy Spirit in the regeneration of the church. Nor do we exactly know what form it will take or what methods of evangelism and discipleship will be most effective to be embraced in the mission dei toward the fulfillment of God’s purposes for the creation and the beloved. We must discipline ourselves to be open to the Holy Spirit’s presence and work among us and in the creation. We must Sabbath intently and yearn for God and trusting the promise that “in these last days, God will pour out the Spirit on all flesh…and the daughters and sons will prophesy and the old will dream.” And, the dreams and visions will be of a world re-born and the loving purpose of creation will be fulfilled in our experience!