Rachel Lemons Aitken
Communications Executive of the Greater Sydney Conference and Founder of the Digital Discipleship Ministry of the Greater Sydney Conference.
As a local church member, pastor, elder or youth leader, you may be wondering how relevant Digital Discipleship is to your church. The Digital Discipleship ministry exists to create, inspire, encourage and resource disciples of Jesus Christ to share His love through their creativity and innovation in the digital space. What does this look like in action? After reading this article, you will be equipped with actionable ideas for integrating Digital Discipleship principles into the fabric of your church.
A church’s strength – its unique quality – is in its community and its ability to be a place of life-changing teaching, learning and launching.
In the Bible, we see the church doing every day, ordinary things together – eating, sharing problems and burdens, sharing dreams and discouragements and sharing financial obligations. Community was natural – almost inevitable.
When the biblical model of church is so reliant on in-person interaction, what does Digital Discipleship have to offer? In many ways, this question lies at the heart of the discussion of the relevance and efficacy of Digital Discipleship at the local church level.
In the minds of some, community must happen exclusively in person while in the minds of others, community happens online. However, Digital Discipleship offers a “both, and” approach instead of an “either, or” approach.
The local church can now add digital tools to its available resources to reach, disciple and provide community. The local church has the opportunity to recognize the gifts of its members in the areas of creativity and technology and to acknowledge the abilities of these people to move the work of the church forward. The local church is positioned to amplify its message while becoming more targeted in its approach through available technology.
Local church leaders and members can implement any of these principles as they work to integrate Digital Discipleship into their church’s ministry plans keeping in mind that this ministry encourages churches to equip its members to make disciples and grow in discipleship by meeting a need in the digital space, addressing a digital need or utilizing digital tools.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT DIGITAL DISCIPLESHIP AT YOUR CHURCH:
If your interest has been piqued and you’re curious about introducing Digital Discipleship principles in your local church, consider the following steps:
Please let us know if you are implementing digital discipleship models in your church or ministry. We would love for you to share you experience and what you've learned. Comment below!
Click here to read the full, original article. Re-posted with permission from digitaldisciples.info.
Rachel Lemons Aitken
Communications Executive of the Greater Sydney Conference and Founder of the Digital Discipleship Ministry of the Greater Sydney Conference
In the wake of his father’s suicide, Gavin Larkin grappled with the realities of death. He wondered, “If this could happen to my father, am I susceptible to it as well?”
He was not okay
He looked back fondly at memories with his father and mentally replayed conversations. As a successful businessman, Barry Larkin had given no indication that he had been contemplating suicide. But the reality remained. Barry Larkin was not okay.
After documenting the impact of this experience in a documentary in collaboration with Janina Nearn, the pair realized the documentary served to tell the story but wasn’t sufficient to build a movement.
Building a movement
“In 2009, Gavin Larkin chose to champion just one question to honor his father and to try and protect other families form the pain he endured.”
“Are you ok?”
This single question, in all of its simplicity, is powerful because of the intentionality behind it. It challenges a nation to ask a question that now shapes the way Australia views suicide prevention with the hope that it will “genuinely change behavior Australia-wide”
R U OK
Karen Mudge, author of a Bible Society article published in 2012 said that R U OK Day “fits naturally with our calling as Christians to care for each other and those around us.”
Taking it one step further, R U OK day — its principles and intentionality — are especially pertinent to the Digital Discipleship movement: engaging with people online can be seen as a spiritual discipline.
Engaging online as a spiritual discipline
As Christians, we are familiar with the spiritual disciplines – if not as a collective than at least individually.
In order for these online encounters to happen, we must reach out. We must meet people where they are in the digital space.
Much of life is lived online.
While some see the online space as a public photo album, displaying pictures of kittens, vacations, clothes and food, others find the online experience cathartic. They find strength in speaking online that they wouldn’t have in person. They type away their sorrows, are often overly honest and send out digital distress signals.
Sometimes, even their silence online can be a loud cry for help. The question is, is anybody listening?
The R U OK Process
R U OK Day prompts us to ask this simple but important question and gives us tools for how to ask it.
As Digital Disciples, we are encouraged to be content creators, distributors and engagers. And as important as the creators and distributors are to the Digital Discipleship process, the engagers give humanity to a world of pixels, bits, bytes and code.
Step 1 – Ask
First make sure you’re in a good headspace to ask. Start with something simple like “How are you going”. If something has caused you to be concerned, mention it specifically. If you receive a bit of pushback, just follow-up with a question to make sure things are really okay.
Step 2 – Listen
Listen genuinely to their answers. Don’t rush them and hold back any judgment you may feel. Follow-up with questions like, how did that make you feel?
Step 3 – Encourage Action
Ask them how you can support them in their situation. Prompt them to tell you how they’ve dealt with a similar situation in the past. Share how you’ve dealt with similar situations. (Sometimes the situation may be too big for you to deal with alone. In this case, bring along an expert to help. Check out this link for resources for expert help).
Step 4 – Check in
Putting a reminder in your diary will prompt you to follow-up. Keep in touch and continue to show genuine care and concern. (For the full guidelines to How to Check-in, visit the R U OK resource page.)
For much of the nation, today’s focus on the health and well-being of their co-worker, cousin or online friend will soon fade. It will be lost when the celebrities stop appearing frequently in yellow, when the pamphlets have been distributed and the commercials have run their cycle.
For Digital Disciples, engaging in genuine conversations online with our friends, family and strangers is a lifestyle modeled after Jesus’ life. It gives us permission and intentionality in our questions and it gives us purpose behind why we’re asking them.
So as you reach out today to ask R U OK, ask yourself how you can exercise the spiritual discipline of engaging online with your community with intentionality and purpose in order to grow God’s kingdom not just today, but every day.
Who will you reach out to to ask R U OK, and how can you build relationship with them and meet the needs they may have?
Re-posted with permission from digitaldisciples.info.