One of the things I love the most about seeing Church be all that it should be is a healthy generational mix. Every time I see this in action it proves to me again that, at the core, the Church of Jesus Christ is a genuine family of belonging believers. Some churches or ‘movements’ may appeal more to younger generations – praise God – but church is fundamentally much more than that: young people you need your elders and elders you need your young people. Imagine a long line of inter-connected, hand-in-hand people standing at the front of your church from the youngest baby on the far left to the oldest person at the end of their life on the far right. This is church family.
So, incorporating the digital world into this kind of generational family would be easy by simply giving it to the youngsters; but I don’t think that’s the way God wants this to work, do you? He wants all people of all ages to benefit from the closer proximity and connectedness that digital/social technology allows.
Here are some tips for the older generations as you think about your senior ministries:
1) Don’t Be Intimidated
It’s completely understandable that older people have a broader mix in competency and response to digital media – a wider spectrum to work with. When you’re intimidated by new and emerging technologies, you may be tempted to dismiss them as being unnecessary (because you managed perfectly without them) or as evil because you default to being suspicious and, even negative, towards the new. I’ve seen this within Christian organisations I’ve worked in and it’s a very sad sight. In the same way that younger people should approach the older ones with humility to learn from their life experience and Godly wisdom, so also should older people approach the social/digital technologies of their youth with a humility to learn and listen. Intimidation will rob you of all the benefits that, in His wisdom, God has allowed to emerge on Earth for such a time as this.
2) Start Small
Getting to grips with the digital world, and especially the world of social media, can be a very daunting experience just simply because there seems to be so much to get your head around. One tip to avoid feeling overwhelmed by this is to stick to the basics rather than feeling you need to get to grips with everything that’s available. I’m in my mid-thirties and have blogged for a decade and used social media for the same time but I only use three of four social media platforms on a regular basis. There are hundreds available.
3) Ask for Help
For developing senior ministries in your church, and coming back to the key issue here which is that of exercising mutual humility, please ask for some help! The church doesn’t need any more mediocre digital/social media. I think the way this should work is for teams within your church, whether a large paid team of qualified digital experts or a small group of savvy volunteers, to provide training and input into senior ministries on a regular basis. Having said that, perhaps they might not know you need help unless you ask! If you’re launching out with new ministry initiatives or have a new event coming up that you’d like to promote, or you’d simply like to raise the profile of your ministry via social media, how about approaching someone in your church to arrange some training at your next gathering?
4) Check YouTube
One of the benefits of the YouTube platform other than broadcasting your ministry, is that it is offers a plethora of helpful videos to actually see how to do something! Whether it’s changing a tyre, cooking a meal or diagnosing a sports injury, there is almost always good information available within no time at all. The same is true with social/digital media – if you’re stuck with something (it could be how to post a photo on Twitter or how to actually set up an account) you’ll find help with this in just a few seconds. You can identify accounts that you find particularly helpful and subscribe (follow) their channel so you can increase your learning that way by regularly watching their content.
5) Remember, Change is Healthy
Remember the digital spectrum of competence I mentioned earlier that tends to be wider within the older generations? This ties in to the general spiritual principle of growth and change. It can be tempting to allow digital technology to pass you by if you’re leading a senior ministry but this wouldn’t be what the Bible says about things. I think the Bible want us to be “green” in our old age in the sense that we continue to have a fruitful, teachable spirit and a willingness to embrace the ‘new’ all the while we approach the whole of life from a place of vibrancy in faith. This is ultimately the fruit of your spiritual health and relationship with the Father…coming to discern and embrace the new (even bewildering) things of worth, with wisdom and appropriateness and adding your own contribution to the conversation too! Imagine if your senior ministry came up with the next ‘big idea’ to help other senior ministries around the world in the same situation – an app or a website etc! Your healthy, prayerful outlook on new, emerging technologies, rather than saying “Why should we do that?” will undoubtedly help many other people who are suffering from loneliness and isolation. Instead say, “Why shouldn’t we do to that?”
Have fun exploring the digital world!
Nick Franks is a freelance digital leader living in resplendent Edinburgh, Scotland. Learning to love as he should, Nick is engrossed in living a contagious lifestyle of worship and prayer. He sweats under his eyes when he eats too much cheese, adores Liverpool FC and has a strong preference for Earl Grey leaf tea. Nick is married to the beautiful Mairi. Consider contacting Nick at www.nicholasfranks.com for any of your media-related projects in photography, writing and film.
You can find Nick online:
Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and get updates on every new article that we publish!