What are your new year’s resolutions?
Not for you personally — reading more and scrolling less and getting at least 30 minutes of movement a day is great — but what resolutions do you have for your digital ministry?
(Don’t tell me I’m the only one who makes new year’s resolutions for their digital ministry…)
I have five and I’m eager to share them with you, both because they might be something you want to borrow and also to have a bit of accountability. If you make a plan but don’t tell anyone, no one knows whether or not you stuck with it, right?
So here they are: my five new year’s resolutions for digital ministry:
- Focus on community more than content
It’s easy to be lulled into the mindset that digital ministry is all about online content. And don’t get me wrong – the online content is essential and can be a lot of fun to make. But if it only exists for itself, to be tapped and swiped, then it’s missing the point. Yes, the content we make cane teach people something, inspire people to do something, remind people that they are not the only one’s who see the world a certain way. But the content is the starting line, not the finish line. The content should open doors to community, not an endless feedback loop of itself.
And let’s be honest, as much work as it takes to create content online, it takes even more to cultivate community online. But this is the work of digital ministry, inviting people to know and be known, to share space with others, even if done digitally.
So that’s one of the things I’ll be focusing on this year. Yes, I will continue to create and produce content. But always as a means to another end and my focus will be on organizing and coordinating and creating spaces where people can connect with other people.
- Grow a digital ministry team
It’s always been easy to do ministry alone, to think that you have all the secret wisdom and that the whole world rests on your weary shoulders. And when we stop and think about it, we always know that this is not true. And the same goes for digital ministry. It’s easy to think that I’m the only one who knows how to set up the livestream or run the perfect Zoom call or make the viral TikTok. But the reality is, ministry is meant to be done together. We see this as far back as Jesus sending out his inexperienced interns in pairs and then leaving the whole movement in the hands of a dozen or so groupees who were very much building the plane while it was in the air.
So when it comes to digital ministry, we can’t let “we’re still figuring it out” get in the way of collaboration. We must focus on doing this together. The process matters just as much, if not more, than the product.
And so in my context, I’m focusing on growing a team of volunteers who can help in various ways: greeting people in the chat on YouTube and Zoom, recording scripture and other parts of worship to be played as part of our Sunday morning worship service, a team of coaches who can help others in our community who have questions about technology, and more that I don’t even yet know we need. But what I do know is that I cant do it all on my own.
- Learn a new skill
It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of all the things you already know. And when it comes to digital ministry, many of us were thrown in back in 2022 and somehow figured out how to not drown. And now a few years later it’s easy, comfortable even, to just stick with what we’ve learned these past years. Why try something new if what we’re doing is already working? (More on that in the next one.)
One reason I think we hesitate to learn something new is because we admit that there is so much we could learn and it feels like some sort of all-or-nothing scenario. But it’s not. That’s just an excuse stopping you from learning anything new. So let’s start be admitting that we can’t ever learn it all, but we can learn something. Pick one area that interests you – graphic design, video editing, sound, lighting, all those advanced settings in Zoom – and learn one new skill. Chances are this one new skill will quickly multiply or at least become applicable to many areas of your digital ministry.
- Try something new
Like I mentioned in my last point, it can be easy to avoid trying new things, especially if the things we’re currently doing seem to be working just fine. And I’m not saying stop doing what works, but innovation only happens when you give yourself permission to try something regardless of whether or not it will work. The goal isn’t for it to “work,” but to learn from it, regardless of how it goes.
So this year, try something new in your digital ministry. Whether it’s a big new project or a small shift in what you’re already doing, don’t just rinse and repeat the years behind us but trying something new for this new year.
In my digital ministry work at Riverside we have decided to end one project, a seasonal devotional podcast, and we’re about to launch something new, a daily shortform video projet that teaches people about the Bible, inspires them to open it and read it for themselves, and models a progressive lens of Biblical interpretation. Be sure to follow The Riverside Church on YouTube and TikTok and Instagram so you can see it when it’s out!
(And did you catch that? Not only are we starting something new but we’re stopping something old. Because we all have the same 1,440 minutes in a day. We are all zero sum economies. Your time and attention are two of your most valuable resources. So yes, try something new, but don’t burn yourself out along the way.)
- Meet new friends
Last, but certainly not least, I want to meet new digital ministry friends. I continually say that none of us our doing this work alone, and this year I want to be even more intentional about connecting with other people who are splashing around in these digital ministry waters. I want to learn from what you’re doing and I hope you can learn from me. This means learning from both what works and what doesn’t work. Because when we share what we’re learning, especially from the things that didn’t quite go as planned, we all learn what potholes to avoid and how to navigate the inevitable speed bumps we’ll face along the way.
What about you? What are your digital ministry new year’s resolutions? Send me an email and let me know!