Darin has been on staff at Crossroads Community Church for 20 years and has served as the Executive Pastor for the past 18 years. He currently serves on the Board of Spiritual Directors for Crossroads Church as well as the Board of Directors for Undivided, a racial solidarity movement.
Jesus and Digital Ministry
Digital technology has revolutionized various aspects of human life, including communication, entertainment, and commerce. In recent years, it has also made a significant impact on religious practices and spiritual outreach. I contend that Jesus, were he to be present in the digital age, would likely embrace and utilize digital ministry to spread his message and connect with people worldwide. And he would be great at it.
Side Note: I see too many churches “checking the box” with tools rather than pressing into the technology to maximize their ability to reach and grow people.
Jesus certainly reached people through his preaching and teaching. His Sermon on the Mount is one of the most quoted passages in scripture. And we know that he gathered as many as 5,000 and 7,000 men (probably 2-3 times that number if you include women and children and you can bet modern-day pastors everywhere would be) on at least 2 occasions. And that was without amplification. Digital platforms have the power to transcend geographical boundaries, allowing individuals from different corners of the world to connect and engage with one another. Through social media, websites, and online streaming platforms, both live and recorded, Jesus’s message could reach people in remote areas, places with restricted religious freedom, and even those who are physically unable to attend traditional worship services.
One of the defining characteristics of Jesus' ministry was his ability to meet people where they were in their lives physically, spiritually, or emotionally. He interacted with individuals from all walks of life, offering guidance, healing, and hope. But that was one on one, and limited to where he was within the constraints of space and time. In today's digital age, people spend a significant amount of time online, engaging with various forms of content. By utilizing digital platforms, Jesus could connect with people in the spaces where they spend their time, making himself accessible in people’s daily lives. An influential teacher of mine once said that Jesus always introduced himself to new communities through comfort and care. It was common for people to be jostling their way closer to him so he could care for them and heal them. What better tool could we possibly have to meet new communities with comfort and care than with the digital platform?
Digital ministry offers opportunities for individuals to connect, engage, and support one another in their spiritual journeys.
Online communities, cohorts, and virtual support groups can create spaces for people to share their experiences, seek guidance, and find support. There are 59 instructions in the New Testament on how the church should be one-anothering one-another. Things like “love one another”, “spur one another on”, and “bearing with one another.” Wouldn’t the internet be a more pleasant environment if these were more common than arguing with one another or bullying one another?
Unfortunately, there are individuals who may feel hesitant or excluded from traditional churches due to past baggage or stigmas. We have seen consistently at Crossroads that digital ministry breaks down these barriers by providing a safe and inclusive space for individuals to explore their relationship with Jesus without fear of judgment or exclusion. Jesus' message of unconditional love and acceptance could shine through digital platforms, offering hope and healing to those who may have felt marginalized or forgotten.
If Jesus were present in the digital age, I have little doubt that he would embrace digital ministry as a powerful tool to spread his message of love, forgiveness, and salvation. Jesus used what was current at the time to reach people beyond his reach. When sending out the 72 to do ministry according to his instruction, the digital framework would allow him to send out 72 million (hypothetically).
Jesus was most focused on the expansion of the Kingdom of God, not a specific time and place method of expansion. He would have utilized all tools in his toolbox. And we believe He still will.