THE IMPLICATIONS OF MULTIMODALITY AND INTERACTIVITY (INCLUDING SOCIAL MEDIA) FOR THE NATURE AND EFFECTIVENESS OF DIGITAL COMMUNICATION
Communication is very important tool for establishing and maintaining a local church. We communicate in order to convey our message and be understood. Communication comes in different forms or modes depending on available technology already used. Finding effective ways to spreading God’s words is not confined to just one mode of communication but a combination of two or more modes such as telephone, radio, television, print media and internet through Twitter, Facebook, etc. In today’s digital society multimodality is a normal method of maintaining human communication. Multimodality provides effective use of available technology to connect to a large audience. It is imperative for a local church to avail multimodality so it’s church members will become well informed of ongoing church activities, goals and ministry works. A well-informed person is mentally and spiritually prepared and works more effectively to the local church advantage. Our society and technology are very dynamic. Adapting to the situation is a must without sacrificing the main goal of bringing the Gospel of Christ to the church community.
Copenhagen Bethel Missionary Baptist Church (CBMBC), my local church, was organized on May 13, 1990 by Pastor Gerry Calba. He first started a small home bible study group in Denmark and Sweden. As time went by more members joined. Encouraged by his members, Pastor Calba soon established a local church in Copenhagen–and the news spread. New members who joined the church also brought with them friends and relatives to hear the gospel. Hence, local church membership further grew and multiplied.
Upon knowing this, German missionary Pastor Reinhard Schneider established the mission on October 6, 1991. The church provided ministry works from place to place until June 1992, the Lord led them to Købnerkirken. There the church held it’s first Sunday services. To further strengthen the spiritual growth of church members, an invited guest named Pastor Roy W. Culley from Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Texas, USA came to preach in the congregation. As years went by the local church determined that it needed to do missionary works outside the country. The local church in Copenhagen began to support missionary works in the Philippines and other parts of the world. Thanks to many local church members who graciously supported the missionary activities outside Copenhagen.
Our local church started to grow because of continued communication, the old fashioned way. In the early years of the church people only knew there was a new Baptist church in the area through posting of banners on the streets, face-to-face invitation, by telephone contact, and giving away written invitations about bible study groups and Sunday services. It is very different now compared then. After 23 years since the birth of the local church, the need to embrace globalization was unavoidable.
The effects of globalization are clear. From (relative) permanence and stability there has been a marked shift to provisionality and instability. Representational and communicational practices are constantly altered, modified, as is all of culture, in line with and as an effect of social changes (GUNTHER KRESS 2009:6-7).
Let’s not forget that globalization was made possible by modern technology. Modern technology has made the world “smaller.” From the traditional means of communication to the worldwide internet made exchange of information instantaneous at a global scale. The use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube the Church indeed had much more advantage on reaching everyone. By the year 2013, CBMBC started it’s own website reaching those other members worldwide. It gave everyone with fast internet access the chance to join Sunday service via live video/audio streaming. In addition to the live broadcast of the Sunday service, everyone can also read posted topics related on Christian growth and church doctrines. People can also watch archived videos.
Constant blending is by no means a new phenomenon, even though the (now fading) fashionability of the term “hybridity” had seemed to suggest otherwise. Blending is as old as humankind itself, as archaeologists demonstrate even in parts of the globe still remote now to the first world (GUNTHER KRESS 2009:12).
Connecting with people using social media had a great impact in promoting the Gospel. Letting the church blend with society through social media as a communication tool makes easier for the church and church members to continuously connect with each other even from other side of the world. Therefore, getting “online” on the internet is one convenient way of knowing what’s happening in the church community.
To understand the target audiences, CBMBC has considered the high number of church members from Denmark, Norway and Sweden are mostly Filipinos. This group comes from various walks of life–seamen, medical & technical professionals, domestic helpers, au-pairs, students, etc. People in this group are mostly in their late 30’s onwards; majority are using the social media. This group is typically in need of answers pertaining to spirituality, baptism or any information about the Bible. To those who wanted prayer request and counseling can look at the website. Facebook is a popular (as it is user-friendly), useful social media forum for members of the church. It is really easy to reach the Pastor using Facebook although very informal way. Mostly people have done is posting questions on Facebook page of the local church or sending private message.
For those people who have questions and are still seeking for answers from the church website will surely come back for more inquiry. Therefore it is very important for CBMBC to provide a website forum specially made for answering questions relating to the Word of God in a very well organized and easy to understand topics. The purpose of creating the local church website is to provide everyone easy access to the gospel anytime. This is helpful to those who cannot attend church services because of disabilities, sickness and other unavoidable situations.
However, nothing is more spiritually inspiring and satisfying but to be physically present in church every Sunday, practice the faith that Jesus and interact with our fellow church members in person. Regardless, let the love of Jesus shines in our lives, be a blessing physically not just on Sunday but everyday.