Conference inspires innovation in online ministry

The event also featured a line-up of experts in the use of media for mission.

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More than 200 people gathered in Auckland, New Zealand, to explore innovative ways to use technology for spreading the gospel and building community at the Digital Discipleship Conference held from June 21 to 23.

Organised by the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) with the support of the South Pacific Division and local conferences, the event was themed “What’s in Your Hand?”—based on God’s question to Moses about the staff he held—and encouraged participants to use the tools they have for digital evangelism and discipleship.  

General Conference associate communication director Pastor Samuel Neves, who spoke at the event, said the conference was an antidote to the “procrastination of waiting for the perfect tools or circumstances” to start God’s mission.

“What do you have in your hand? Is it a phone, an old computer or even a piece of paper? Then use that. The mission is God’s, not ours,” said Pastor Neves. “We need the best methodology we can muster, but our methods are to mission what our works are to salvation—filthy rags. So God uses whatever methods we have available, and we need to use the best there is, but salvation is a supernatural process.”

Workshops and presentations covered topics such as leveraging technology for digital discipleship, enhancing church communication and online presence, effective website planning, video production, using artificial intelligence, Instagram growth strategies, podcasting, and harnessing digital tools for community engagement and ministry.

The event also featured a line-up of experts in the use of media for mission, including Oakwood media pastor Kirk Nugent and Pastor Matthew Lucio, assistant to the president for the Illinois Conference. “Both speakers challenged the attendees, sharing their experience and expertise, and setting the bar high for what is possible in digital media today,” said Kirsten Øster Lundqvist, a pastor from Wellington.

To provide ongoing support in online ministry, the conference organisers launched the Digital Discipleship Journey. This initiative will provide continuous mentoring and resources for individuals and churches committed to being effective in the digital space.

“The conference equipped attendees with the skills and confidence to take their first steps or enhance their existing efforts in digital discipleship, now the Digital Discipleship Journey will sustain the momentum generated by the conference and further empower digital disciples,” said conference organiser Pastor Victor Kulakov.

According to Pastor Neves, training church members and leaders in digital evangelism is essential for the Church to accomplish its mission. “The very calling of the Adventist Church is to share the eternal gospel. This is communication. So if we’re going to fulfil our mission, we’re going to communicate. In fact, we should be the best communicators on the planet, able to explain, share and call people to an experience with God. So it will take communicators if this mission will be accomplished,” he said.

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