Ministers told digital media essential in reaching more people

Feb 11, 2019


Dr. Arlecia Simmons speaks at the Granville Hicks Leadership Academy. (Photo special to The Panther)


Reaching more people with ministries through the use of digital media was the focus of the “Go Ye and Tweet: Using Digital Media for Ministry” event on Feb. 1 during the Granville Hicks Leadership Academy held at Claflin University.

The Rev. Dr. Arlecia D. Simmons, a minister and Claflin professor teaching social media/digital media, promoted use of social media in church by highlighting positive outcomes from fusing technology with old concepts. She suggested churches hire a market place ministry consultant.

Simmons posed the question of how congregations can be served in the present age.

“Some of you believe Facebook is the devil. It can be used for the Lord’s work,” Simmons said.

Several audience members expressed fears of incorporating technology into their ministries.

Their concerns:

  • “Someone taking something political that wasn’t mean to be taken political.”
  • “Reaching people who don’t have good intentions.”
  • “Turning off the older generations in the church because of technology.”
  • “Not having someone who can run the technology.”

Simmons urged the audience not to be offended and to understand where she was coming from in regard to traditional ministries’ success. Grow with the times or get left behind, she said.

She said the cellphones of today are great tools. Younger generations can be put to work and monitor and keep up via digital -- even if older generations do not want to.

Ministries today are competing with those reaching a broader audience by use of online, she said. Younger people can be motivated throughout the week instead of only on Sunday.

She said there are no excuses now for not incorporating an online presence in ministries, saying she knows a 91-year-old woman using social media. Age is not a reason to forego social media and other digital tools.

Simmons reiterated that adults can no longer fear technology.

“Congregations that fail to reach out to potential members through digital media will fail,” Simmons said.

She left the audience with tips and solutions for the transition.

“Technology must be coupled with engagement,” Simmons said.

Her tips include knowing the difference between electronic church (radio, television, prayer lines, etc.) and digital church (streaming, podcast, blogging, etc.), investing in SEO and ministry websites and considering other ways of reaching their audience.

“Sometimes people connect with God and words. Other times during the week, so look into podcasting,” Simmons suggested.

She challenged those who are digital ministers and those interested to sit down and turn on Facebook Live to record. Within that, they should highlight sermon points and where they are located for traditional church.

“You’re reaching more people. Keeping the engagement going and connecting with people while you’re speaking brings more viewers,” Simmons emphasized.

She reminded the audience that the goal of the conversation is influence you to go back and talk with your board members about strategies.

“The gospel is free, but ministry comes with a cost.”


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