The Christian Leader in the Digital Age
- Tuesday, February 26, 2013
But the Internet has also disrupted the stable hierarchies of the old information age. A teenager with a computer can put out a blog that looks more authoritative than the blog written by the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation – and perhaps read by more people as well. Most of what appears on the Internet is unedited, and much of it is unhelpful. Some is even worse.
And yet, if you are not present on the Internet, you simply do not exist, as far as anyone under 30 is concerned. These “digital natives” rarely receive and even more rarely write letters. They know nothing but instant information, and studies indicate that they multitask by instinct, utilizing several digital devices at once, often even when sitting in a classroom.
The digital world is huge and complicated and explosive. It contains wonders and horrors and everything in between. And it is one of the most important arenas of leadership our generation will ever experience. If you are satisfied to lead from the past, stay out of the digital world. If you want to influence the future, brace yourself and get in the fast lane.
Developing an Internet Presence
By now, just about every church, corporation, business, school or organization has a presence on the Internet. If not, realize that you just do not exist, so far as untold millions of people are concerned.
If you are a leader, you are responsible to see that your organization’s Internet presence is useful, attractive, inviting, and well designed. If you need help, get help. The first impression on the Web is often the only impression you will make, so make it count.
Content is king. People come to your Web site because they are looking for information. Make sure they can find it, and make certain it is worth finding. Your Web presence advertises to the world who you are, what your organization is all about, and the seriousness of your commitment to that mission. The information on your site must be up to date, regularly updated, and worthy of attention. If your Internet presence looks stale, visitors will assume that your organization is stale as well.
As a leader, consider establishing your own Internet presence as a part of your organization’s Internet site. If this seems self-aggrandizing, just recognize that this comes with the territory when you are a leader. Visitors want to know what you think, how you communicate your organization’s mission, and whether you inspire trust.
You have a message to communicate, and there is absolutely no virtue in failing to communicate that message. Make it serve the mission of your organization and drive visitors into its Web pages. Offer good content, and visitors will come back again. Let it grow old, and they will go elsewhere. This means a loss for your organization and its mission. Never forget that.
Make certain that visitors can find you and your organization. If search engines do not know you exist, only those who already know your Internet address can find you. That is not a growth strategy.
The Gospel Imperative in the Digital Age
The church is assigned the task of sharing the Gospel, taking the message of Christ to the world, making disciples of all the nations. Christians have been about this task for more than 2,000 years, and we are now witnessing a resurgence in Great Commission vision and vigor in a new generation of Gospel Christians.
Just as the Gutenberg Revolution granted the generation of the Reformation unprecedented new opportunities to communicate their message, the Digital Revolution presents today’s believers with tools, platforms, and opportunities that previous generations of Christians could not have imagined.
Christians – and Christian leaders in particular – should be taking advantage of blogs, social media, and every available platform for communicating our message. We should be exercising stewardship in new opportunities to learn, teach, and study online, recognizing that no generation before us had such rich opportunities.
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