More than 120 media-savvy church members from across the Pacific recently gathered in Sydney for the annual Digital Discipleship Conference.
Held at the University of New South Wales, the event, now in its third year, included practical training with digital tools to share Jesus. Workshops focused on online marketing, podcasting, blogging and digital evangelism, while Sabbath highlights included the annual Gabe Reynaud Award presentation and a Sabbath School program hosted live by the Faith FM Breakfast Show team.
“It has been really amazing,” said Western Australian pastor Marcos Torres, who runs the PomoPastor.com blog. “I just love the fact that there’s a space for innovative and creative Adventists to get together and just inspire and challenge one another. I’m a creative person but I feel pretty isolated most of the time, so being able to be surrounded by people like this and see what they’re doing, get fired up about their projects, and get their feedback on my own projects, it’s priceless.”
“I’d like to go back to my church and start live streaming services weekly,” said Luisah Vele, a graphic designer from Port Moresby (PNG). “This conference has helped me realise consistency is key and to keep going no matter what happens.”
A new feature this year was the introduction of an “Ideathon”, where 15 local ministries from around the South Pacific pitched their ideas to receive feedback and solutions to potential problems—projects ranging from fitness to how to reach young professionals, podcasts, bloggers and new animated TV shows for children.
“It was really hands-on and there were a wide range of ideas,” said Laura Hutchinson, a communications graduate from Sydney. “There was a lot of ‘how-to’ practical advice, so it didn’t really matter what level your idea, church or skills were at, you were able to gain something.”
“I really appreciated that we could freely share,” said Brisbane-based tech enthusiast Aaron Peterson. “We were able to bounce ideas around and encourage each other, and it was great.”
The digital discipleship movement, which was initially funded by the Adventist Church in Sydney, is now part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia (AUC), a move that will bring digital discipleship tools to a wider range of people.
AUC president Pastor Jorge Munoz said he hopes members will not only use the discipleship tools available online, but also create content that will inspire and motivate others.
“Our vision for media in Australia is to continue empowering our members to connect and share with others about God and His kingdom,” Pastor Munoz said. “Digital discipleship is one way we can continue to cultivate a thriving, disciple-making movement, and we are excited about the opportunities a conference like this creates.”
Plans are now underway for next year’s Digital Discipleship Conference, but in the meantime, attendees are encouraged to keep dreaming ideas and making those happen in their local churches.
“The conference is just a place that we gather, but there is a ministry that happens outside of that weekend,” said conference founder Rachel Lemons Aitken. “That’s what we’re really preparing to do, to help people in the next 363 days between now and the next conference. That’s what we’re most excited about.”