How do you envision using digital technology into the future in ways that you did not do before COVID-19?
The new future is the present!
The world has gone digital. Few were ahead of the curve; most are adapting quickly.
What do people need?
- Need customized/customizable platforms and applications that are versatile
- Need user-friendly tools
What do we need to do?
- Need to identify, develop and use tools that are compatible for all devices
- Develop digital resource managers in-house to handle logins, uploads, develop content and use CMS (Content Management Systems)
- Procure and manage security systems to keep off potential threats
- Ensure that prescribed Biblical principles, patterns and best practices are not compromised as we migrate to digital formats
THREE KEY AREAS OF FOCUS
1. Planting Digital Churches:
The need and the opportunity are ripe. Many unchurched folks who would otherwise never walk into a Church building, willingly join an online community upon the invitation of a family member or a friend. All religious strappings/obligations are stripped away in the context of a digital platform which makes it conducive for the irreligious to join. For an online gathering to be a Church, one needs to look at how the scriptures define Church.
Biblical Definition of a Local Church:
A local Church is a visible heterogenous community of disciples of Christ gathered together in a particular locale who pray, study scriptures, fellowship, break bread and take care of each others needs and actively engage in the mission of Christ, who are shepherded by elders/deacons where every believer is growing into maturity and are equipped to do the works of service.
The greatest challenge for the planting and sustaining of Church in digital formats will be to transform online gatherings to be the Church in keeping with the essence of what truly a Church is according to the scriptures.
2. Building online curriculum and communities for effective discipleship
Discipleship is primarily a life on life transformational process and not mere transfer of dry theological concepts. Having said that it is neither a random collection of teaching without progression and coherence.
A disciple fundamentally learns, lives, and teaches the teachings of Christ.
Therefore, there is a clearly defined learning process, but the learning involves doing as well. Disciple-making process is to assist people to obey everything Christ has commanded us.
To fulfil such a unique need, one needs to design and develop curriculum that would be simple and have multiple approaches to learn and apply them.
This is how we could approach this need:
- Short teaching videos/e-curriculum with worksheets to facilitate processing of ideas with lead questions for discussion and reflection along with a rubric for assessment, in the form of a matrix or grid, as a tool to interpret and not “grade students' work against criteria and standards”.
- The future of the methodology of learning is neither formal nor informal but non-formal.
- Online structures and tools coupled with the relational element of a spiritual leader who is convinced and committed to the process can impact lives.
- The limitation of physical proximity is overcome through good use of technology.
- This would also bring about a unity in the teaching and not result in fragmentation of a Church or a movement.
- It requires financial and human resources to build and sustain tools and systems.
3. Developing leaders with character, capacity and digital tools
There is a need to develop leaders who are people of character and capacity who are also quite tech-savvy.
For effective discipleship and church planting, we need more leaders who can lead a small group online. Large online meetings are not productive. If there are too many people, there will be no possibility to nurture relationships and have meaningful conversations.
My experience in recent times:
I have been discipling leaders in different nations in small groups for over three years using Google Hangouts. Some I have never met physically and might never meet on this side of eternity but have become like family though we are from different ethnic backgrounds. They are actively involved in door-to-door evangelism and in discipling others in their country through these online discipleship and leadership development efforts.
Asian Access South India has progressed into a new leadership development program of developing potential graduates to lead fellow graduates in their cities in small cluster groups. Thirteen pastors who have been through the program have been handpicked and meet on a zoom call for two hours on a monthly basis and are going through a training process.
The National Leadership Team has already scheduled monthly meetings for the year 2020 and have been meeting regularly online to fellowship, pray and strategize leadership development initiatives.
Going forward, digital technology is going to be the order of the day.
It's time to go on a war footing effort to go digital and build Christ’s communities the "SMART" way!
Pastor Rajiv Hubert is a graduate of Asian Access and currently serves on the working team of Asian Access /South India. In his primary roles, he serves at the Apostolic Christian Assembly Church at Chennai, India as the Lead Pastor of the English congregation and as a resource person at schools, colleges and involved in developing leaders across denominations and in different countries. Married to Selvi and blessed with two children, John and Joanna.
- Part 1: Use of digital technology during and post COVID times?
- Other articles about Rajiv Hubert
- Photo credits: All images of media team members courtesy Rajiv Hubert, ACA Church.