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8 The Circuit Rider :: SPECIAL EDITION

L
ets say that you were called
by God to be a missionary in a
foreign country. What would you
do: Well, If you were lIke me, the rst
thing youd want to do is learn the lan-
guage.
If you were a missionary in Mexico,
you'd learn SpanIsh. f you were In Cer-
many, German.And even if you were
going to the United Kingdom, youd still
need to learn the colloquialisms of our
friends across the pond.
Maybe you arent called to in the for-
eIgn mIssIon eld. Perhaps your church
is in small American town, like mine,
and not in Korea. Does that mean that
you are not called to be a missionary?
No.
All of us, whether we are foreign
missionaries or lay people in a local
church, are called to be missionaries,
or ambassadors, for Jesus each day of
our life.And we need to learn the lan-
guage. What language is that? Well, in
our current environment, I believe it is
the universal language of social media.
In other words, you, and your church,
need to be on Facebook!
But Andy, you say, thats only for
teens. First, if that statement was true,
then what we as Christians are saying,
and the church is saying, is that teen-
agers and kids dont matter to God.
And I dont know about your Bible, but
mine says for God so loved the world.
Teenagers included.
Second, that statement Is absolutely
not true. Currently, 86% of all adults
19-30 are on Facebook. And they are
not alone. According to recent stud-
ies, 61% of Facebook users are 35
or older. In fact, the average age of
a Facebook user is 38. And 47% of all
adults between the ages of 50 65 are
on Facebook. This is a huge section of
the population that uses Facebook as a
means of connection.
But are they connecting to a local
church?
Lets go back to our missionary ex-
ample. Some In
the Body of Christ
are called to the
foreign mission
eld, some are not.
However, as we all
well know, we are
all called to be in
ministry. Through
our baptism, we
are each marked
by God and called
to represent Him
in all that we do. As United Method-
ists, our mission statement is, Make
Disciples for the Transformation of the
World. Thats you. Thats me. Thats
each of us. Thats what we
are about.
But perhaps that vision
of mission isnt enough for
you. Perhaps you need a
little more encouragement
to understand your role in
the world today and to rep-
resent Christ in all that you do. Listen
to what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Cor-
inthians 5:20:
We are therefore Christs ambas-
sadors, as though God were making his
appeal through us. We implore you on
Christs behalf: Be reconciled to God.
As a missionary or ambassador, you
are charged with reconciling others to
God. And in order to spread that mes-
sage, you must know the language, the
culture and modes of communication
of the people you are trying to reach.
SImultaneously, we, as the Church, and
as Christians, must be willing to reach
and communicate with people however
possible.
All of these people young and old
matter. They matter to God, and
they should matter to us to as the
church. And we as the church need to
be invested in whatever ways we can to
reach and connect with them, includ-
ing Facebook and other social media
and/or networking.
A missionary would never see it as a
source of pride or badge of honor that
they didnt speak the language of the
place they were called.
Do you, and does your church, see
it as a badge of honor to not be con-
nected? If so, ask yourself, is that re-
ally what Jesus wants for His church? I
believe, personally, that Jesus wants us
to use every means at our disposal to
further His kingdom.
The notion of reaching out to the
world isnt the only reason why we as
the church and as Christians should be
on Facebook. SocIal medIa also can be
used as a tool to reach into
your church and touch the
lives of your congregation.
As a pastor, I use Facebook
to be in connection with the
members of my church on a
daIly basIs. SometImes the
connection is just silly stuff,
lIke makIng Dle |Iss/|SU
jokes (Go Rebels!), but other times it
is quite serious. Ive been able, as a
pastor, to reach out to people in a way
that ts Into theIr schedule and helps
me stay within mine.
Through Facebook, while Im in my
ofce and my congregatIon Is at home
or at work, Im able to be a part of
their day. Im able to share in their
happy moments. Im able to be a part
Ret. Andu Stoddcrd is c Irm belieter
in utilizing social media to connect with
his congregation.
This ueel ct Annucl Con[erence, uou ccn leep up
uith uhct is hcppeninq, lite on the spot, bu secrch-
ing for the hashtag #msac11. You can go to http://
secrch.tuitter.com cnd secrch [or #mscc:: to Ind
out all thats going on at Conference!
Connecting with Your Congregation:
Why You Should be on Facebook
By Rev. Andy Stoddard
:: Continued, page 9
of their joys, their achievements and
their victories. Yet, at the same time,
and through the same medium, Im also
able to reach out to people who are
struggling, who are having a bad day,
or who need encouragement and let
them know that I love them and care
for them. And so does their church.
And as the pastor of a church that
is experiencing dramatic growth, Im
able to connect to visitors quickly and
keep them in the loop of whats hap-
pening at Asbury. Im able to interact
ZLWKSHRSOHQRWMXVWRQ6XQGD\PRUQ-
ings or Wednesday nights, but through-
out their entire week, keeping them
connected not just to me, but to the
church as a whole.
And it isnt just me, as a pastor, who
can do this. Daily I see messages of
members wishing each other a happy
birthday, or offering prayers, or giving
encouragement. As the people called
Methodist, we treasure our connection
above most everything, save for Gods
grace. Facebook and other forms of so-
cial media are, for many people today,
just the newest form of connection.
And as a people of connection, this is
our calling.
And thats why I, and Asbury Church,
are on Facebook.
Q You can connect to Andy at www.face-
book.com/rev.andys and Asbury Church
at www.facebook.com/asburypetal. If
you are on Twitter, you can follow Andy
at www.twitter.com/revandys and As-
bury at www.twitter.com/asburypetal.
:: SOCIAL MEDIA, from page 8
The Circuit Rider :: SPECIAL EDITION 9
WESLEY
FOUNDATION
Campus Ministry for
all Gods Children
MGCCC-Jefferson Davis Campus
and USM-Gulf Coast Campus
P.O. Box 7794, Gulfport, MS 39506
228-209-5268 / 228-863-4296
wesley4jd@aol.com
wesley4usmgc@aol.com
More Walk/Run participants walking near the
Capitol Saturday.
And theyre off! Runners and walkers at the start of the Arise! Shine! 2K Fun Walk/Run. The event was
held bright and early on Saturday morning.
Bishop Ward and husband Mike enjoying
the 2K Fun Walk Run.
A jubilcnt pcrticipcnt o[ the Arisel Shinel zK Iun Wcll/Run strides ccross the Inish line.
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