This pandemic taught us that ministry is not static; the way we worship, fellowship, and study together looks dramatically different than it did two years ago. Much of our church experience changed in the blink of an eye.
With this perspective, a conversation early in the pandemic between John H. Cress, Southern California Conference (SCC) executive secretary, and Iki Taimi, SCC senior youth and young adult ministries director, sparked an idea. Many of our pastors had been thrust into circumstances they were not trained for. “How could the conference best support these pastors?” they asked themselves. By answering that question, the SCC Digital Ministry Support Network (DMSN) was born.
“We want to help our churches expand their digital footprint in a significant way in their communities,” Cress said. “Our goal was to provide a place where pastors could find resources and gain the understanding they need to do that.”
The DMSN committee came to include Tim Cress, pastor of North Hills church and committee chair; John Cress; Taimi; Lauren Lacson, SCC communication director; and Danny Chan, SCC L.A. Metro Region director.
“During this unprecedented ministry season, many pastors have felt isolated and uncertain about how to adapt to ministry post-COVID,” Chan stated. “Many have struggled to find answers to the question the pandemic has raised about their unique ministry contexts. As society becomes increasingly digital, having a network of support through these uncertain times to help address their digital media needs is essential and is sure to be useful in years to come.”
A DMSN Facebook group brought SCC pastors together, and the team began hosting weekly livestreamed trainings in January 2021. The trainings featured various guests, diverse topics, and practical, hands-on instruction.
“Technology is used in so many spaces, but not much of the conversation is centered around moving the gospel forward and empowering our churches to accomplish their mission more effectively,” Tim Cress noted. “This group takes a pastoral approach to learning SCC Pursues Innovation During a Difficult Time so that whatever is covered can be implemented more directly and more quickly.”
With brief videos, practical guides, and peer-to-peer collaboration, the group has brought needed information to pastors without requiring a large time commitment. “The most valuable aspect of this group is the practicality and accessibility it gives to pastors on tech and ministry,” Taimi said, explaining the research and time usually required to find this information. “This group has worked to be a CliffsNotes version for any ministry leader trying to engage in this new digital landscape.”
While the pandemic was the springboard for this group, the network’s benefits will continue long after. “This type of support and training is not just for COVID times,” Lacson said. “Digital ministry is going to be with us beyond this pandemic, and we have to continue to integrate these tools. Ministry in our churches has changed forever.”
DMSN will continue, recognizing that this is not a static ministry. “We are currently transitioning, but that does not mean we are going away,” John Cress stated. The committee is working to meet needs more specifically moving forward, maybe on a different platform. Learn more at https://scc.adventist.org/dmsn and click here to subscribe on YouTube.