Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/epublicist/8716178557/‘Social Media’ has become one of the hot topics over the last 10 years.  The Church has been said historically to seriously lag behind in tech innovation;  while that may be true the bivocational minister will find Social Media offers some unique opportunities to expand ministry.  Here are some ways you can start using social media for ministry today.

1)  Start a Facebook page for your church.  There are many voices today saying Facebook is on the way out, but even if it is, it still has a large user base.  Most likely a majority of your congregation have a Facebook page already.  The account is free, and has many useful features.  We use our page to announce and invite people to events, share pictures of significant happenings in the church and occasionally post links to articles of interest.  I even post quotes from the sermon the previous Sunday, so our people who attended have an extra learning point and those who did not attend have at least some idea of what was said.  Download the Facebook App onto your smartphone and you don’t even have to be at your computer to conduct Facebook ministry!

2) Use texting (and email) to keep in touch with people. Want to remind people of an upcoming event?  Text’em!  Want to find out if Joe Cool is alright because he wasn’t at church on Sunday?  Text’em!  Again, right from your smartphone.  No stamp required.

3) Use YouTube to post video excerpts from your worship service.  It is free and easier than a full-on podcast, although the free accounts limit the clip duration.  Put the link to your excerpts and channel on FaceBook and your church webpage.

4)  Need to make quick announcements?  Set up a Twitter account.  This is great for doing things like making weather-related announcements during winter, and for reaching targeted groups of people (separate groups for youth ministry, etc.).  You can send out a ‘Scripture-a-Day’ message, or short sermon quotes.

5)  Finally, a warning.  Social Media allows us to keep in daily contact with our people.  But sometimes that daily contact can be a hindrance as well.  I lost a family from my church because of things they posted on Facebook which were inappropriate; they were offended and left when I brought it up.  Sometimes a thick skin can be handy (sometimes it is better to let small matters pass and recognize that everyone is growing in Christ), as well as letting people know that their life during the week should match what they are saying on Sunday.  This one is difficult, but we all need to know the possibility and develop a plan  BEFORE we actually need it.

Paul says in Ephesians 5:16, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Social Media…it can make a big difference in your ministry as a bivocational.  Make the most of the opportunities you have been given!  

BONUS:  Free eBook from Chris Forbes  Click here –> Facebook For Pastors

writing - Source: Roco Julie "https://www.flickr.com/photos/iamroco/6880096005/"I recently found an article on sermon preparation for the bivocational pastor.  It contains some good tips and worthwhile instruction for those of us who have to fit sermon prep around the edges of secular work, ministry and family time.  I have linked it in the resource section for future reference, but here is the link for your convenience… Sermon Prep link.

This is an area many bivopastors struggle with, myself included.  With median time for sermon preparation in a recent study being about 13 hours, how are we supposed to fit that in without infringing on other important areas of life?

One clear area is finding the right tools to do the job.  I have found that BibleGateway.Com and the Olive Tree Study Bible (on my iPad) are invaluable.  For you the tools may be different, but these two in particular seem to streamline my preparation.  I can access these anywhere as long as I have my iPad and a WiFi connection, so I can work on sermons almost anywhere I find a free moment.  Find the tools you personally can work most easily with and stick to those.

The clear winner, though, is simply determining my preaching schedule ahead of time.  At a recent meeting of our “Mission Area” someone asked me how far out I planned my schedule and nearly died of shock when I told them it was planned out for a full calendar year!  Being planned out I can take into account church and secular holidays, holy seasons, mission emphases and other events.  It allows me to space out my preaching in a more unified approach than otherwise possible.  This does not mean I cannot change things at the last minute if something unexpected happens or the Holy Spirit tugs me in another direction, but the majority of my schedule is set.  I can begin looking for sermon illustrations a year in advance and putting them aside.  I can read resource material and commentaries, do research and find statistics, I can boil down a complicated subject into something the typical person in the pew will understand. One of the best books I have read on this topic is “Engage: A Guide to Creating Life-Transforming Worship Services” by Nelson Searcy (on Amazon here).  It is available on Kindle, Nook and in paperback.

What is YOUR best tip for sermon prep for the bivocational?

podcastIn our digital world it is amazing what opportunities we have for various kinds of continuing education.  In the Church of the Nazarene we have a requirement for ordained clergy to take at least 20 hours of continuing education a year, although the requirement doesn’t really have any ‘teeth’…yet.  Still and all, especially for the busy bivocational pastor, we need to ‘keep our heads in the game’ and in a way that not only stimulates our hearts and minds, but is also flexible enough to be of practical use.  One of the methods I have found to do this is to listen to podcasts while driving to and from work.

First of all, for those who may not know, a ‘podcast’ can be defined as the equivalent of an old-fashioned radio interview.  The recorded podcasts I listen to are downloaded onto my iPad, which I then broadcast in the car to a Bluetooth-enabled speaker.  Last night I was challenged by a podcast recorded by the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God.  The speaker was Pastor Wes Davis, and was a lecture delivered to the NMN at their Annual Conference in 2010.  The title was “AC10 Preaching to Reach Pre-Christians”.  Pastor Davis challenged many of the assumptions and attitudes held by typical church people, and I foresee several sermons being developed from this one podcast.

I do not just listen to Christian podcasts; many are business related.  Even within these interviews and discussions I find that my ability to speak to others in my secular job is enhanced, and there are direct applications to the Church as well.

Rather than listing out software and specific podcasts here, I recommend doing a Google search for applications for your specific platform (tablet, computer, mobile phone…).  I will occasionally bring a specific podcast to your attention through these articles, and will list those in the resource section of the website as well.  Listen to those, and have fun exploring!

Source: http://pixabay.com/en/technology-informatics-computers-298256/The term ‘Technology Overload’ is a strange one to western ears. Technology is always supposed to be ‘good’, isn’t it? How can you have too many gadgets or apps? That seems to run contrary to our culture. But this is a matter which ministers must pay close attention to in order to actually perform ministry.  Bivocationals are usually looking to save time and effort when they can, so this can be a tricky area for us.
The key question here is, “What does this technology do for me and is it worth the effort?” Each gadget, app or piece of technology  we decide to use should have a specific task or set of tasks which it handles. The end result must save enough time, money and effort for ministry purposes to make the effort productive. If it does not, then the technology actually hinders ministry.
An example of a positive experience might go like this: The pastor needs to send birthday and anniversary cards out to a number of people. He knows that these people are technologically savvy and check their email frequently. He goes onto the Internet to a favorite site and selects an Electronic Greeting card for each of them, spending about 3 minutes each. Not only does he do this in the same time it would take to write the cards by hand, he saves the cost of the card, the cost of the postage and the card is delivered nearly instantaneously. As long as the recipients regard an e-card in the same way they regard a physical card, he has found a way to leverage technology to his advantage.
When considering new technology, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is it going to save me more money than it costs (including labor time)?
  • Is it going to save me time over what I am doing now?
  • Is it going to open new possibilities for me?
  • Is it going to save me effort?
  • Is it going to be more accurate, and does that matter to me?

If you can answer at least three of these questions positively, then it probably is a good thing. If you can answer four positively, then it definitely is a good decision to incorporate the technology. Anything less than three, don’t bother.

Remember, technology is supposed to help you do a job. If it doesn’t do that, then it is failing to give you what you need.