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Bobby Gruenewald: Is Anyone Listening?

• Targeted advertising. With simple adwords, someone who is searching for pornography can be greeted by: “Looking for nude photos? Try this instead.” How we leverage this technology is, for these people in these moments, the way God speaks to them. And in services like Facebook, we can direct our advertising toward friends of people who have liked our church’s page, reinforcing personal invitations they may have received.

• Niche ministries. In the past, establishing a new ministry required funding and resourcing from the church, which usually had to wait until enough demand was demonstrated. Now, we can empower people to tap into the passion God’s given them without the obstacle of determining how the ministry fits into our staffing structure or budget constraints.

• Location-based outreach. Thanks to geolocation features within services like Foursquare and Facebook, people are openly sharing where they live, work and hang out, which enables us to focus our efforts on people within a certain geographic radius. For example, our youth ministry could reach out to students who check in at Friday night’s football game to invite them to a postgame meet-up.

• Individual conversations. These can lead to some of the most powerful experiences of in-the-moment ministry. It can be a response to a direct request, like someone who is asking for prayer. Or it could mean starting a dialogue with someone who is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, and following up with an expression of support, an assurance of God’s love or providing a clear path to help.

These are anecdotal examples, but so much more is possible. How can we leverage these tools to change how the Gospel is shared and received? How should this technology shape the future of the church? Let’s seize this opportunity as we find, explore and invent new ways to reach people together.  


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Bobby Gruenewald is pastor, innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv. FastCompany.com recognized him as one of the 100 most creative people in business in 2011. Bobby is an Outreach magazine contributing editor. His column, “Innovate,” appears in each issue.