“As organizations often have limited budgets for social media, content and marketing, but these constraints can be empowering: limitations define the playing field and often encourage creativity.” (BLOOMSTEIN 2012:124)
Internet age started long time ago and was only made available to few group of people in universities and government establishments. Nowadays, the internet has evolved into a user-friendly tool enabling people of all ages learn the technology fast in a short amount of time. Internet today was faster, more affordable and available in almost every home and personal electronic device people carry around. Hence, this present generation became very well knowledgeable on social media.
Majority of people around the world use Facebook and/or Twitter when they want to communicate with their friends especially when they are difficult to locate. Social media has become an everyday part in today’s society. So using social media in evangelism and discipleship is an easy way to spread the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ–as easy as how we served an instant coffee on the table. But as Christians we believe that what we publish online should glorify the Lord and not ourselves. A Christian believer can post any idea about Jesus Christ. Thus the idea of delivering and sharing Jesus’ message online could have positive impact in people’s lives.
I realized the importance of social media in my Christian growth when I arrived in Oslo, Norway on August 2013. I was already a member of a growing church community in the Philippines prior coming to Europe. Thirsty for more wisdom while in a foreign land, I decided to yearn more about the word of God. My first challenge was to find a church of worship and continue my ministry work. I asked several others to help me find a church that suited my work schedule. At that time I was in the process of adjusting in a strange land. I also asked the Holy Spirit for guidance and help me find a church I can attend until I go back to the Philippines.
During my first week in local school here in Oslo, I met Juna, a Baptist missionary from Denmark. I asked her if she knows a church nearby. I told her that I was interested in attending a Baptist church. Cheerfully she personally invited me to join her at a next fellowship service. As days went by Juna and I exchanged messages through Facebook informing me about the fellowship service the church offers. Juna explained to me about a fellowship service being held inside someone’s home while watching “church live streaming” on a computer. At first I didn’t understand the concept. When I tried and saw how Juna and the rest of the members did, I was amazed how useful the internet was.
Live streaming with chat board enabled us to send messages directly to the person-in-charge for prayer requests, questions, and comments. Although we’re not physically inside a church we conducted ourselves with respect as if we are inside a church in Denmark. If the members stand and pray during church service we do the same thing during a live stream fellowship service. Juna used to attend church service in Denmark when she was still an au-pair. When she moved to Norway she decided to become a missionary and continue God’s work. Like me, she went out looking for a Baptist church.
When I met Pastor Calba I asked if I can be a member of the church and permit me to do some ministry work in Oslo thereby helping Juna and the rest of the members. Pastor Calba explained to me via email that becoming a member is not just attending the church, that I need to undergo a seminar called Class 101, a handbook composed of 31 pages about “Discovering Church Membership”. I was determined to be part of this growing church and I promised myself that I must attend a class to understand the roots of this Baptist Church. Class 101 was only the beginning of my journey and there are plenty more to study. Aside from myself there were three other new members who were willing to take the seminar. After some serious talk, our Pastor taught us how to do it without leaving Denmark. The solution… through “ SKYPE”.
Skype for me was for family and friends to communicate each other one-on-one or in a group setting. But for Church service? This is a smart idea to use a communication tool like this to evangelize and study the Church Doctrine without going to Denmark. The Skype application software is freely available on the internet and easy to use once installed on a desktop computer or on any mobile personal electronic devices with data service. In addition, we also continued on using Facebook Messenger, an online messaging service, to inquire and check availability of everyone to attend the seminar. After a group chat on Facebook, we decided to do it on days that were convenient to us. On March 2014, Class 101 started with Pastor Calba on the Skype with video. This was made possible with the help of Sister Irene inside her apartment. She placed the big table and chairs in front of her big screen monitor and computer and together we learn.
The seminar normally lasts at least a week but because of our jobs and school commitments we made it in 2 days, about 13 hours including breaks. Pastor Calba understood we were on a very tight schedule. He answered our questions on Skype very diligently and patiently. I heard how he answered questions from the group. As I talked the longest more than anyone else in the group was enough to exhaust any available time for the pastor to respond to my questions or comments. Regardless, Pastor Calba still had the momentum to entertain whatever questions we have on our mind regarding the class. Everyone was also welcomed to watch a video “Discipleships Training” archived on the church website in order to further increase our knowledge.
John Eckman notes” Strategy is just using limited resources to accomplish a goal.” (BLOOMSTEIN 124-125)
Pastor Calba evangelized on live video streaming via Skype. Sister Juna also did it by using Facebook as our means of communication. Using mobile phone via Viber or Instagram also made it more possible for us to evangelized anytime, anywhere.
I remember just a few days ago, a friend of mine was very worried with his wife suffering from severe anxiety and depression. I was in the workplace and before going home I asked if we can pray together for his wife through the prayer warriors of the Church. He gave me his permission. The following day I used Viber to send a message to our brethren and Pastor to add this man’s family for healing in their prayers and it did work. I had given this man a hope by telling him that there is nothing impossible with the Lord and just hold on faith on Him. The church was indeed far from Norway but because of the internet and the power of social media it was only a mouse-click away.
How do I become more informed about the church community I served? It’s up to the church I belong to use the internet technology to its advantage. The Pastor and the members had used social media to evangelized the works of the Lord. They used every available and mostly free social media applications and websites to Glorify God. Through this technology, Pastor Calba, members of the church, and his many faithful missionaries made it possible to deliver the good news about Jesus. A person like me who hungers for the word of God was able to read and hear the Lord’s wisdom on the internet.
“As we completed the seminar, we realized as members we had an obligation to use our God-given talents to spread His gospel. Discipleship is just only starting once we become fully informed of the many possible ways to become an effective servant of Jesus. It is a modern way to experience God’s unfailing love for humanity whom he created, using smart ideas and tools for saving mankind. Reminding us that God is still in control no matter how advance the technology is.”