Web Ministry
Sole 
Seed

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To encourage and promote ministry with...
To empower through education,  nurturing community with...
To share hope and celebrate life with...

Everyone.


Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21 CEB
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An outreach ministry, nurtured by Prosser United Methodist Church

Web Ministry

Honor the subject

by Alethea McGavran on 06/15/16

Allow me to take a minute to share a really good way to use a quote from the Bible. Take a look at lectio divina, a personal meditation that invites the reader to absorb a passage of scripture, contemplate it, read it again, contemplate further, grasping the word or phrase that resonates with you, continuing to pray over it. From this practice, we can take insight from our holy books and find a way to absorb it into our hearts for use in our personal lives, and our daily struggles.


Proof texting on the other hand, takes a verse, or a fragment of a verse, out of it's holy setting to instead wield it as proof of righteousness in someone's personal convictions. You can avoid it by reading the whole story, trying to understand the context of the setting and the nature of the message, and then deciding if that quote really offers a glimpse of the message from the story, which you can share with your readers. Proof texting differs from lectio divina in that it is an outward facing message, meant to be used at others, instead of within ourselves.

Judge not, lest ye be judged - Matthew 7:1 KJV is an interesting example of this. I see it used most often as a threat that the reader or listener will be judged by others for being judgmental or hypocritical themselves. That seems like circular logic to me. Instead, if we embrace the passage and take the message personally, perhaps we can embark on a journey of self-exploration, looking for the way we may inadvertently judge others, without even realizing it.

That's the difference, and it's huge.

Why is this relevant to web ministry? Sometimes it's called cherry-picking or quote mining, it gets used as click bait. We do it to other texts and to people as well, and it's almost always bad. 

When you ask for, or go looking for, personal information about a group or an individual, what are your reasons? Do you seek to understand out of compassion or are you looking for details to confirm a belief you already hold? Are you looking for ways to correct your own soul or to correct others? I often counsel that we only ask questions for two reasons: curiosity and compassion. Sometimes it's both, often it's one or the other. Be honest when you ask someone to share their story with you. Let them decide if they want to engage, knowing how you intend to apply that information.

How we interact, how we ask others to confide in us, how we use publicly accessible information, tells the world about how we choose to be viewed as well. If you use a quote that sounds good, but the source doesn't back you up, you may be viewed as untrustworthy. If that source is a living breathing person, they may rightly feel manipulated and refuse to share with you again.

Choose carefully between what resonates with your audience so you can celebrate their experiences, and what resonates with your own soul so you can keep it there and grow from it. Your web presence is never so small or so private that you should risk someone else's story in a way that does not honor them. 

How present are you?

by Alethea McGavran on 05/31/16

Here's the thing: I don't have much of a web presence, personally. I don't have much to say. So let's talk about your mission and your identity as a part of that mission.


Demographics tools: Your neighbor is a dentist and he knows if more people were educated on dental hygiene, it would promote better overall health. Your pastor is the child of a migrant farm worker and he knows if there were better ESL programs, more kids would succeed in school. While these may both be true, they may not be the highest priority in your mission field.

A good demographics report will tell you the age ranges in your target area, the education levels, the household sizes and makeups, salary ranges, employment status, and even the ideals and priorities of the people you wish to serve. It can tell you where to start, and what kind of questions to ask.

Time and talent: make a list of other organizations that touch on your same audience and build relationships with those groups. Ask for help, and offer help, assessing the strengths and challenges of everyone involved. Be practical and try not to reinvent the wheel.

Ask more questions than you answer. Have you ever heard of the second disaster? Unsolicited and unwanted donations of goods and services may make your donors feel good, but it doesn't make any friends in the community you are trying to serve. Ask people what they need, and ask lots of people in your primary mission field, not just the nice ones or the clean ones or the ones you pass on your commute. Be involved and get invested too, or you won't get many answers.

Now talk. Real talk. People are more wary these days of generic welcome messages and stock photos. They also don't like reading long winded expositions. (You know, like this one. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you do, because you're trying to figure this whole web presence thing out and you're willing to take some time and make a few notes.) But if you're trying to reach people who don't know they need you, keep it short, relevant, and if possible, witty.

Try Twitter. Try a website. Try Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr. Try newspapers and radio ads too, if you like. Try new things and find something that works for you and your audience. Have something interesting to say and add to it frequently. Add with integrity and use positive language. Be sure that the words you use don't lift up one group by tearing another one down.

Review: Keep really good notes. I mean really good. Track the reach of your tools, ask new clients how they found you. Ask existing clients why they keep coming back. Then look at the old bones of the communications tools that didn't work out, forgive them for failing, learn what mistakes were made, and either correct them and build it again stronger, or delete them and start over.

The internet is a fluid place, constantly alive with the thoughts and prayers of the global community. Be with them where they are and you may find a far richer experience than expecting them to come to you.