By Jim Moon III
The most fundamental element to the church of Jesus Christ is relationship - relations with people and a relationship with God. Truly, love of God and love of neighbor have spurred the church forward through good times and bad. In this modern era, we have been blessed with the tools to maintain relationships across diverse conditions.
No longer are relationships dictated by proximity, frequency of contact or direct eye-to-eye communication. We still desire these age-old modes of relating but with the ever-increasing mobility of our society and the globalization of our world, we often times are left in want. Anything that helps us maintain relationships and interject the message of hope that comes from Jesus Christ is an awesome ministry tool.
Our tweens, teens and college-aged students, have adopted a communication tool that helps them relate to each other across time and space. I believe this tool has the ability to increase our pastoral contact time with them and an increasing number of others like them. This way of relating also may enable us, as minister's of the Gospel, to reach across barriers we would not otherwise overcome.
Since October 2006 I have been involved in an Internet ministry through two different online tools www.myspace.com and www.facebook.com. "Facebook" claims to be a social utility that connects you with the people around you. "Myspace" claims to be a place for friends. Each of these tools is free and takes very little time for one to start using.
Originally, I started this ministry for the sake of pastoral care, in order to spend time where teenagers are most located, but I ended up realizing that much more could be done. I started posting copies of my weekly sermons on my profile as a blog (an online note that others can comment on). Since it is your blog, it keeps track of how many people actually read your information. I was surprised how many people took the time to read and comment about my most recent postings.
One admitted atheist asked to be my "friend." About my sermon "Building the Character of Christ: Being Who You Say You Are," he recently commented, "I could get into that. I wish more Christian were. Jesus was a commendable leader." This young man has never stepped foot into my church, but I have the ability to minister to him anyway.
I am still realizing the many ways this technology can be utilized. Recently, one of my "friends" was sent to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. During his stay, he and many of his comrades took time to read my weekly sermons and said they felt the sermons were uplifting. I could have never done this without this awesome ministry tool.
To get started in this unique ministry, go to the Web site (www.myspace.com or www.facebook.com) and sign up. Then create a profile of who you are and locate your "friends," those with whom you want to communicate on a regular basis. When a "friend" leaves a comment or a message on your profile, an e-mail notification is sent to you, so that you can check your profile.
Even with its advantages to young and young adult ministries, there is a caution. Many secular organizations have realized the power of communicating with people through these connective services as well. These include advertisers, marketers and, yes, even the darker sides of the Internet.
For more information about how I do Internet ministry, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 812-282-5739. To view Park Place UMC on Myspace, log on to www.myspace.com/parkplaceumc. Click on Friend's - PJ.
Jim Moon III serves as pastor of the Park Place UMC in Jeffersonville, Ind.