So, you are intrigued by Internet Ministry, but you are intimidated. Who are these people on the internet? What do they need? How can I, a pastor who barely feels confident with email, help these people who seems so different? Why won’t they simply come to church and relate to me in a way comfortable for me?
Janet is a former police officer. She was pulled over on the side of they road on an Interstate and was rear ended by a distracted driver. As she was recuperating at home, her mom had a stroke, since “she was home anyway”, her brother and sister decided mom should move in with her. Almost before she knew it, two other family members arrived courtesy of relatives who felt that, while she looks after her mom, she can look after poor “Uncle Bruce” and “Cousin Sandy”. Now she is dealing with her chronic pain, mourning a life plan that changed unexpectedly, and feels trapped and taken advantage of as she is now a staff of one in an ad hoc family nursing home. She can barely leave home, but needs someone to talk to her about vocation and calling.
Henry is bi-polar. He lived his life feeling not good enough. He didn’t do well at school. His marriage fell apart when his wife no longer could deal with his mania and depression. She took their two kids as he looks at his life and wonders “why would God create a person like me or a life like mine”? He needs a word of hope and to know that he is worth the journey toward healing that he knows he needs to begin.
Running Cloud is an indigenous American. Her mother was the community medicine woman, and her father was a presbyterian missionary. Between the two she was gifted with deep faith and an ability to speak within the culture she called home. Then her father died. When her mother died she found she needed to be there to help her people in their spiritual life. But a big church opened up close by that preaches loudly and slickly the prosperity gospel. She now fights the message that the reason her community is poor is because they refuse to become like the people in the mega church. She needs someone who can theologically help her bridge the chasm caused in her community as she increasing identifies the message of that church as true “Christianity”, instead of the mission work of her father.
I get it! As pastors, we get comfortable buried in the tasks of ministry. We are constantly preparing that next service. We are writing newsletters, leading Bible Studies, doing weddings and funerals. You just wish these people would schedule with the Secretary to catch you and talk to you in your office, on your turf. But they won’t. They are searching the internet for answers and the people with our ability to answer their questions don’t seem to be there.
However, Jesus didn’t just teach in the synagogue, he went to where the hurting people were. He dined with sinners and walked among the “unclean”. That is when ministry is truly transformative. We want to learn how to make our ministry look like that. But there is that learning curve. Will we do it?
I met these people (though names were changed, of course) in my first month. I reached out and discovered that harvest that alluded me, as I was kept busy doing tasks in a nearly empty building. That was how I discovered the need and my calling. We need to face the learning curve to reach these people searching for us, together.