Book Review: Ministry in the Digital Age

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As a 26 year old associate pastor, I have never known ministry to not be in the “digital age.” I remember discovering my faith for myself during my freshman year of undergrad and landing on the Desiring God website by myself in my dorm room. I devoured articles by John Piper and set my homepage to classic.studylight.org. The Holy Spirit truly stirred my heart and gave me an appetite for knowing God through online resources. To put it simply, I wholeheartedly believe that digital ministry is not para-church—an auxiliary avenue into the church. In our day this is one of the front doors to the body of Christ.

Ministry in the Digital Age by David T. Bourgeois (IVP Books, 2013) assumes little on behalf of the reader. Instead it walks through the various “streams” of digital ministry in a way that will be incredibly helpful to those who are new to online ministry, and just as importantly, to those who are already doing online ministry. Bourgeois does this not just by defining the various digital resources available, but by systemizing the dozens of services and outlets that we all tend to discover and utilize more haphazardly than we’d like to think.

The big idea is that “We are now living in a post-website world.” (23) This fact alone should be enough to motivate any ministry to consider if they are really participating in digital ministry or simply reminding people of service times on their website. Bourgeois argues that people are no longer seeking information alone, but are looking for relationship with an online presence. This is why you see mega-corporations engaging people on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The brand becomes relatable, part of our everyday relationship.

According to Bourgeois it is also important to understand the notion of “streams.” This is the flow of digital content along established paths that people already engage with. Facebook, text messages, email, Twitter, search results, these are all streams that people participate in every day. The idea is not to lure people into another stream, like a website for your church, but to inject your digital presence into the streams already being utilized by people every day. Your missional church can’t stop thinking missionally when it comes to digital ministry.

All of this comes in the first couple of chapters, the rest of the book gives incredible, seasoned advice on how to get your digital ministry up and running with all of the best practices of the industry. It is actually incredibly comprehensive in just 114 pages. If you are considering revamping, relaunching, or starting digital ministry for the first time, this book is a very helpful starting point.

A free review copy of this book was received from the publisher.

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David Lyell is associate pastor at Westwood United Methodist Church and Photographer at Stephanie Lyell Photography.

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