Sydney, New South Wales
Around 150 people attended the Adventist Church’s first Digital Discipleship Conference over the July 15–17 weekend.
I began to see how the digital space provides a place where church members are once again inspired to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples.
Hosted by the Adventist Church in Greater Sydney, the conference featured international speakers, interactive workshops and great networking opportunities for Adventist “creatives” and those who are passionate about using technology to share the gospel.
Attendees came from all levels of the Church and from all around Australia, sharing ideas for new ways of reaching out to support and witness to their communities.
The theme of the conference, “What’s in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2), challenged attendees to use what is most often in their hands to reach others.
“My church sponsored me to come and learn about social media,” said Roven Clark, a retired missionary from Galston church. “As it is, I like sharing Jesus and the love of God, and I wanted to improve my digital skills to do so. With social media, I learned how to be more intentional. You have to engage with people. I’m going to do what I can digitally for Him.”
In her workshop Morag Patton, from the YesHeis app ministry, impressed on attendees the need to engage with any responses they get back from the messages they share.
During the weekend attendees were encouraged to rethink what is possible and collaborate and come up with new ways and ideas to share Jesus.
Greater Sydney communication coordinator Rachel Aitken, who organised the event, was unable to attend as she gave birth to her first son the night before it started. We asked her where the idea for the conference came from and what is next?
JS: Tell me a bit about the vision behind the conference and why you decided to hold it?
RA: As crazy as it may sound to some people, at the beginning of 2015, God asked me what was my “big, hairy, audacious goal”? It’s a term from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
I didn’t have to think long to answer that question. Since starting at the Greater Sydney Conference, I wanted to create a space where communicators and creatives could gather to explore how their talents could be used for ministry. I wanted people to understand how communications within our Church is vital and equally as useful for evangelism as it is for corporate messaging.
After sharing the idea for a conference with God, the wheels were set in motion.
JS: Why focus on the digital space?
RA: In our Church, all too often communications has been viewed as an ancillary service. As a result, we have yet to fully realise its power for evangelism, especially in the digital space. We often see local church communications as being confined to bulletins and a church website, but what if God is waiting for the photographers, videographers, graphic designers, bloggers, social media mavens and digital marketing experts to use their talents for ministry as much as He is the worship leaders?
I started having lots of light-bulb moments about how God could use digital marketing, social media, online platforms and content creators, distributors and engagers for ministry. Most importantly, I began to see how the digital space provides a place where church members are once again inspired to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples.
JS: What does the future hold for the conference?
RA: You can expect to see engaging content from us, as well as future events that will inspire and train our members for ministry in the digital space. In 2017, we will gather for the next Digital Discipleship Conference so we can continue the conversation about how God is moving among people in the digital space.
I’d like to invite all creatives and those interested or curious about the digital space to get involved. There are lots of opportunities to engage in between conferences. We invite you to email us at email@example.com to join our mailing list and keep the conversation going!
Jarrod Stackelroth is editor of Adventist Record.