My philosophy of pastoring an established, smaller, rural church is simple: Honor the past, look towards the future. A church like ours has a rich heritage that spans several decades. Traditions have been established and certain notions have been set in stone. But we’ve also got a good future ahead of us as we look ahead and try to discern how we can continue to carry the Gospel out into our community in the 21st century and, God willing, beyond. That’s why I believe it is so important for a church like mine to communicate using a variety of different mediums.
For instance, on the one hand, we look towards the future, so Our Saviour is a digital church. The newsletter is delivered in .PDF format. Church members and church council can exchange ideas and information on an internet bulletin board. We podcast sermons and email prayer requests and follow Tweets. Some people stay connected throughout the week by texting. Many of us use Facebook for our friendly “water cooler” time. These people expect—and, I think it safe to say, need—digital communication.
But because we also honor the past, we’re also a paper church. Paper bulletins. Actual hymnals. Hard copies of newsletters for those that want them. Hard copies of church council minutes. A phone prayer chain still makes the rounds every so often. We make verbal announcements after church and have a coffee fellowship so that people can share thoughts and ideas and friendship.
There are some days that I think it would certainly be easier if we could stick to just one type of communication. If we had a different sort of church we could probably do just that. But precisely because we are what we are—an established, smaller, rural church—we have a group of people that vary in age, in technological savvy, and in communication preferences. And so we deliberately communicate across a variety of different mediums because we want to keep as many people as possible connected to the life of the church, to each other, and ultimately to Christ.