The Church, Missions & Technology

How Returning Missionaries Can Help With Church Revitalization: Vision Casting

In our last post on how returning missionaries can assist church revitalization I want us to look at Vision Casting. If you are unfamiliar with the term it is basically a way to communicate to the church and community what your church stands for and wishes to accomplish with its time, money, and resources. This is a way for pastors and missionaries to recruit people to join them in executing the vision.


Former missionaries would cast vision in two different ways. First as they would recruit supporters from the states to partner they would cast the vision of reaching a particular people group with the gospel. They would normally explain how great the need is for the gospel and then call people in churches to pray and partner in order to see that vision come to fruition. Second, the missionary would cast vision to new believers of how they can reach members of their own community and country with the gospel. A missionary on the field recently shared what he uses to cast vision among his new believers. “Our Vision is to see a church multiplying itself in every major city of our country.”

There are some pastors out there that can easily communicate the vision and direction that God gave them for a specific church. We are thankful for these men and the time and energy they put into listening from the Lord, asking for his direction. However, in revitalization contexts the church has lost vision and focus and need some help. As we have explained in previous posts, missionaries can easily see the needs in a specific community and how the church can assist with those needs. The former missionary and pastor can help show the congregation the needs and how they feel the church can help meet those needs.

Once the needs are explained the church staff and lay leaders can better understand how the church is going to meet the needs of a given community. Depending on the size of the church you might only be able to meet one need. And that is ok. It is going to be a great start in your community. The important thing about vision casting is that you have to do it often. In the church I now attend weekly I hear the vision of the church about three to four times in every service. It is important for us to remember our role in implementing the vision of the church that we attend locally.

How Quick We Turn. Galatians 1:6

Today Race is a hot topic. I find it a little strange even though I grew up in the South and heard rumors of racial junk going on in churches across America. I think people were scared to react in a way that was counter cultural at the time. When I graduated college I began my career towards being a minority. I moved to New Orleans Louisiana to start seminary and quickly got a job working at UPS. I had entered the minority section of UPS. I didn’t have a problem with it because I was planning to move overseas and I would be an even bigger minority. I just considered it training for the future. During my time at UPS I learned a great deal about African America culture. I learned about the ethics they support and deny, I also learned about the sub culture of African American Christians and of course their worship style. After my educational time in New Orleans I moved overseas and lived among different Arab people groups for almost ten years. Learning they too have Racism that fuels their various sub-cultures. So Racial Issues do still exist in the world. And let me tell you it is much worse in the Middle East.


Paul in his letter to the Galatian believers talked a great deal about race. In the beginning of the letter he was shocked at how quickly the believers turned their backs on one another and really on Christ. He was shocked at how quick they turned their back on the teachings of Christ. When racial tensions start to flare we as believers must not be quick to turn our backs on what Christ teaches us and how He instructs us to treat one another.

In the original language of the New Testament this phrase turning away is more complex than just forgetting what someone taught you. Its meaning is more filled with trading sides in a game or better switching allegiances of a country. We must remember that we are human. We must remember that as believers we must care for all peoples of this earth. When my girls leave the house I remind them of who they are, and whose they are. When we remember whose we are it helps us to remember who we are and how we are supposed to treat others. In a future post we will talk about the importance of the Golden Rule but as for now let me remind you that Jesus expects, instructs, and commands every person that claims to be a believer to treat one another in the same way that we want to be treated. As Paul was saying in the first chapter of Galatians, we cannot turn our backs on the teachings of Christ because an individual or group with a different skin color does something harsh to another. We must stand for the teachings of Christ remembering that His teachings are for all peoples.

Digital Resources

This week we are looking at taking advantage of resources for using digital communication at your church. As we dive into these resources let us first state an obvious one that is often overlooked. Ask for help. If you are reading this then you understand that digital communication is vital to your church and ministry. We all recognize that most churches and ministries are years behind the curve but that is why I am writing and you are reading, to help close the gap. If you attend a smaller church do not think that you are limited, or that you cannot create and produce great content for your church. You might need a little help along the way. One of the first steps is asking for help. On more than one occasion I have emailed, or even better, sent a message through social media and asked for help from communications staff at mega churches. Most of them have responded quickly and pointed me in the right direction. They have even provided me with content that they have previously used. They are more than happy to talk through process and design. Ask for help, don’t waste time trying to create a wheel that was created years ago.

The second digital resource is social media itself. Facebook alone has numerous groups of church social media managers or church visual communication. Members of the group range from lay leaders who want to help their church to full-time communication directors at large churches. Within these “closed groups” people share ideas and get feedback. I have even seen some give away photos, sermon slides, and social media templates. For me personally, when I cannot figure something out I post inside these groups asking for help.

The last digital resource is graphic design related. This part seriously intimidates lay leaders but I am going to talk about two resources that will help you out. The first is called Canva. Canva is a web-based program that has several templates already laid out for you. You just replace the text and the picture and you are good to go. If you want to get fancy you can pay for the pro version and easily add your church logo and color scheme. The second is an Adobe product called Spark Post. This is another web-based program that allows you to create a variety of social media graphics. The templates are pre-formatted for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, & Tumbler. This App also is compatible with all mobile devices. So if you create content on the go this might be a better App for you.

To Recap:
1. Reach out for help directly with other social experts
2. Join Facebook Groups
3. Use tools to help save time with design


Technology in Ministry

When we think about the church we pray that it is always changing. Biblical truths never change, but how we apply them, and what it looks like changes in every generation. This is why I am concerned about the state of technology in churches across America. I see churches on a regular basis that have not changed any of their technology in ten years. Many churches have taken proper steps to get a website and social media pages but I am afraid that they did it just because everyone else was doing it. Or maybe because the “cool” church in town had a website so now we need one too. Over the next several weeks we will look at three key areas of technology in the church. Websites, Social Media, and Digital Resources.

Far to often churches have websites that are ugly, outdated, and not welcoming. We know that people interested in your church will often view the church website or social media pages prior to attending for the first time. However, most of our websites do not properly reflect the identity of our churches. Updating and maintaining a website are easier today than they have ever been. We must take proper steps to use technology as we continue to reach out to lost members of our communities.

Churches have discovered social media but many do not understand social media. It is funny how many churches use their social media pages like they would a website. They do not understand that social media is about relationships. I told a church worker that you need to talk to people and draw them into conversation about a particular ministry through your social media pages. She quickly said but if we place something on social media then we will have to respond and I do not have time for that. I said ok remember that time is a choice. If you choose not to be in the realm of social media that is completely up to you. This is where I remind church staff that although social media is still free to set up and use, it does take time.
The last week we will look at Digital Resources available to you right now. When I was on the mission field we did not have financial resources to accomplish many of our goals so we had to be creative. Almost everything we talked about during training missionaries could start right then for free. Each year free resources are made available to small churches and pastors all across the nation and world. We need to make sure that we are looking in the right places for help. We also need to be able to ask for help from others on church staffs with more expertise than our own. I like to use the example of my father. He is in his late 50’s and does a decent job of using social media for his church. What is really cool is that he is in several groups that share resources. Although they do not advertise it several large churches will assist in any way they can to share resources. Newspring Community Church is one that shares almost anything they create. All you need to do is ask for it.