In light of yesterday’s healthy discussion, I thought I’d follow up today with an insider’s perspective of how God is using video technology via the internet. The following is a guest blog from Brian Vasil, Internet Campus Pastor at Flamingo Road Church – Miami, FL
A little while ago, I was in a chat room with an Internet Campus Pastor friend and colleague, Brandon Donaldson. He and the brilliant team at Lifechurch.tv were early adopters and trailblazers of the notion that real church could happen on the Internet. As we talked about one thing or another, he referred to the two of us as “old school” Internet Campus Pastors.
I had to stop and drink that in. Can you be “old school” at something that didn’t exist before 2005?
Maybe… and with that comes the responsibility of sharing what you’ve learned. I’d like to do that here…
Here are three things that I’ve learned (so far) about Internet Campus Pastors and what I’ve been called to do in the past 3 years:
1) It’s much more about the Pastoral side than the technical side… I tell any church that is even remotely interested in starting an Internet Campus…if you are going to put your messages out there, chat about them, and allow prayer requests, you have to have a dedicated Pastor available to help shepherd the digital flock. Sometimes my inbox resembles the online prayer scene in Bruce Almighty…but I consider it a privilege to pray and care for people around the globe. Many churches don’t start Internet Campuses because they don’t have the right “technology” person to lead it. The tech will take care of itself. Find a person whose Pastoral heart beats for people he may never meet physically but loves just the same.
2) Your motives will be questioned… You will be criticized, ostracized, analyzed, and unfairly questioned. People will challenge your salvation and say that your ministry is worthless. Soldier on. My heart beats for the lost…even if they are in prison, sick, phobic, or otherwise unable to attend a physical campus. That’s why we’re here. It’s all about the vision God’s given us at Flamingo Road through our Lead Pastor, Troy Gramling. We believe God has called us to have an Internet Campus…and we would be disobedient to do otherwise.
3) Learn from everyone… I love talking to brand new Internet Campus Pastors. They are packed full of fresh ideas…new thoughts… and brilliant strategies… God gives them a different angle or a varied look at the internet community that we’re all working to save from hell. No matter the size of the church or its Internet Campus, I can always glean something new that may help us in our journey. In turn, we are always ready to help anyone just putting their digital stakes in the ground.
I know that reflecting about Internet Campus Pastors is a little like writing a biography of a baby still in the womb. There’s still so much to do and explore. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for iCampuses… real churches seeking real people with real hearts in virtual space.