On New Year's Eve, 1999, I was getting ready for church, and a party. I lived in New York City, and while we joked about 'Y2K', there was still a little bit of nervousness in the air about whether the computers would keep up with the rolling over of a millennium, and what technological disasters could occur. I was just about to be ordained a priest, and the church and the world seemed poised on the edge of an amazing era. When the ball dropped, and no clocks stopped, we felt a wave of relief and optimism.
It seems like such an innocent time now, as we were unaware that 9/11 was 20 months in the future, and that since then, so much in the city, the church, the country and the wider world feels precarious. But we also live in an unprecedented time of astonishing technology, increasing peace, and global community.
The church has changed, too. We all know that church attendance and the practice of any kind of religious faith has dropped precipituously in the 21st century. But we also know that this opens a brand new mission field - a chance to meet a new world with the Good News of God's love. As the second decade of the new millennium begins, we are called to see how much opportunity is in front of us.
2020 is the Year of Perfect Vision - the challenge to see beyond our fears and divisions and be guided by the light of forgiveness, peace, and resurrection. Here are three resolutions for how to meet that challenge in YOUR ministry:
1. Practice Hope Hope is our business as Christians. It is the radical notion that no matter how dark it seems out there, no matter how much we suffer, we believe in a God who is redeeming the world, and all those in it. It means we know we cannot fix or save everything, but we know who will. We live in a world that seems woefully short on hope these days. This is our time to share this precious commodity with everyone, every day.
2. Be an online angel 'I am leaving Facebook,' 'I just don't spend that much time online anymore.'
I cringe every time I hear my clergy friends say things like these. They often cite bad behavior, misinformation, and time wasted as the motivation to leave social media - or the internet in general - behind. But this is also proof that clergy - and all ministers! - should be spending MORE time in the digital world.
Online is where most people spend most of their time. That's where the church should be. Social media in particular is desperate for peaceful conversation and deep truth. That's what the church has to offer. If things are difficult or unmanageable, that is exactly where we need to bring the love of God.
Don't quit the online world - bring more love there. Make it the place you want to see.
3. Don't forget the basics Many people ask me where to start with Creative and Digital Ministry. I always say, 'start at the beginning!'
Since most people are not in church these days, there are many who do not know the first thing about the Christian faith. So much of modern religious practice is really ancient - telling the story, gathering around the table, witnessing to miracles and joy.
HOW we do this has changed dramatically over time, but WHAT we share has been the same since Jesus taught his first disciples. It's simply a matter of translating the basics in a new world. We are always called to this.
RE/Vision Ministry in 2020 It's the perfect time - the perfect year - to be open to new vision in YOUR ministry. How - and where - are you bringing Good News in new ways? And how are you being called to greater clarity?
Free Range Priest can help.