Pastors today are expected to not only study and preach God’s Word, but to be financial managers, counselors, song leaders, groundskeepers and even interior decorators. Recently, security officers and public health specialists have been thrown into the mix as well. Suffice it to say, pastors are wearing many hats with a lot on their minds.
It is easy, then, to understand why some pastors may have overlooked or been unable to add the extra role of social media specialist. This is an area that can be critical for church growth, and one in which church members who are a bit Internet savvy could put their talents to good use.
In the South Carolina District, Rev. Mark Wilson noticed that several churches had either no online presence or did not have enough details such as address or times of service for a guest to know when or how to visit. A few had only a Facebook page.
As he attempted to compile a list of district churches with addresses and service times so he could pay them a visit, Wilson, assistant professor for discipleship, multiplication and renewal at Southern Wesleyan University (SWU), could not find that information in one place for a few churches. Something stirred in him to do something about it, so he mentioned this fact to his friend and fellow SWU colleague, Rev. Brent Dongell. Wilson also contacted the district office for help.
Dongell, associate professor of youth ministry, and his work study student, Paige Rouse, decided to offer their time and web designing talents to any church in the district that needed a website. The South Carolina District office messaged churches about this service, and two immediately jumped at the chance.
“It’s hard to fill some of the responsibilities [pastors have], and therefore, it’s great when people from outside are willing to support us with their expertise,” said Rev. Mireille Tanner, lead pastor of Nueva Generación in Duncan, South Carolina. The Hispanic church is working with Dongell to create a church website on a platform and in a format that will be easy for them to maintain.
Dongell and Rouse have chosen the website platform Wix for Nueva Generación, and the second church to respond, Glenville Wesleyan in Glenville, North Carolina, whose pastor, Rev. Ralph Campbell, also asked for assistance. The amount of time it takes per website and the content for each one varies by church, but Dongell estimates 10 to 20 hours per church before a final coaching meeting and handing off of the “keys” to the website occur.
With the school year back in full swing, adding this ministry to their workload wasn’t something Dongell and Rouse had planned on. They are doing it, however, because “our heart is to connect with and care for our churches,” Dongell said.
October may be Pastor Appreciation Month, but these pastors are the ones who are doing the appreciating. As Tanner notes, pastors can’t know how to do everything. And at a smaller church like Nueva, which often relies on YouTube for worship service as it prays for a dedicated worship leader to come along, it must rely on volunteers and lean on the talents of its people. “While many in our church are serving in some kind of capacity, we don’t have that many skill sets due to the fact we are a small church,” she said.
The South Carolina District office is thrilled and thankful for Tanner and Campbell (and any other pastor who may benefit from this offer) as they continue to serve and minister in the challenging days of 2020 and beyond.
Jennifer Jones is the district administrator for the South Carolina District.