The Rocky Mountain American Baptist
A Newsletter of the American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains
in a high tech,
low touch world
Once upon a time, churches worked with basic (if somewhat flawed) ways of measuring engagement. Growing up in Southern Baptist churches, it was the offering envelope that measured not only giving, but attendance, and Bible Study. In Seminary, I was a student intern at a church that had the ushers with “clickers” at the door.
We all know that these “nickels and noses” metrics were always suspect in trying to measure things like spiritual growth and discipleship. Often the most important instrument we used for measurement was our eyes. We noticed when a family stopped coming to worship together. We noticed when someone “didn’t look right” or sound okay.
Today, we are missing many of these ways of measuring engagement. So, what does a pastor and church look at when trying to assess the level of engagement by people.
Join in the weekly Pastors Conversation
via Zoom with our ABCRM "shepherds"
out there in the field with you
as we navigate this confusing new territory and keep watch over our flock!
Tuesdays, at 9 a.m. each week
Meeting ID: 984 754 6141
First, we pay attention to our priorities. Steve Van Ostran observed that as good shepherds, the pastor’s function has changed. In times of high threat, the shepherd’s primary role shifted from guide/provider to protector. In this time, it is right that pastors are not focused as much on increasing the flock as they are about protecting the flock.
Many churches now have some kind of online presence. We have come to understand that both Zoom and live streaming have strengths and weaknesses. Zoom is good at helping people who already “belong” connect when they are not able to gather, but it is hard to incorporate new people. Live steaming allows churches to reach across the country, but it is hard to build or deepen relationships. Both are limited by the technical capability of people in the congregation.
Questions for us to consider in defining "Engagement" in this new environment (drawn from the weekly Pastors Conversation):
Christianity is a high-touch faith; so, how do we live out our faith in a low-touch world?
How do we provide “side doors” for engagement?
Congregants have preferred levels of contact with others. How do we provide enough opportunities for people to engage with each other and with the community besides via Zoom and Facebook Live or even through in-person worship. Some ideas include:
Volunteering in small groups while practicing Covid-19 safety.
Serving your neighbors and bringing a little cheer. (Pumpkin drop-off with a note of encouragement. Thank you Karen Schneider).
Writing letters of encouragement to teachers, city/county leaders, nurses, pastors, etc. (Thank you Karen Van).
How do we make disciples in a virtual world? How do we move beyond information sharing to “Go and do likewise?” or the request “Rabbi, teach us to pray?”
How do we encourage and celebrate the ways that our churches are already serving the community? How do we measure the volunteer hours of calling the elderly, writing notes to the nursing homes, working in food pantries, etc.
How do we create new pathways to connect with people?
As we often discover in all facets of life, there are no "easy" solutions or "quick fixes." However, as with any challenge, God will provide new opportunities for our missional effort in response to this difficult time. Let's go forth and make disciples wherever we shall find ourselves ... even online in the virtual world!