“This Good News about the kingdom will be spread throughout the world as a testimony to all nations. Then the end will come. (Mat 24:14 GW).
Ministry Going Global
This must have been an amazing statement to disciples who viewed salvation primarily for the Jews (Mt 10:6, 15:24). Additionally, their view of the Earth was very limited. They had never seen a globe, or an image from space, or an accurate world map. As far as they were concerned, they could reach the whole world in their lifetime. They could have never dreamed that there would be a day when people would use GPS for directions with street corner views of every turn on their path using Google.
Times are Changing for Ministers
The Bible would have been written very differently had Jesus come in the 21st century. Jesus would have approached his ministerial training differently as well. The majority of the New Testament is composed of personal letters written to people from the Bible authors. If the Bible would have been written in modern times it probably would have formed as a collection of emails, blogs, or social network status updates.
Odds are, those reading this article found themselves smiling after that last statement. A real question to consider is why people tend to smile at the thought of the disciples having Twitter and Facebook accounts. The thought of it is no more absurd than the idea that they would also travel by automobiles as opposed to camels.
Over the last 100 years technology has advanced human communication is ways the world has never before known. Technology that once drove desktop computers 15 years ago is now considered minuscule in comparison to the smartphones that fit in the palms of hands. These devices provide new methods of communication such as email, internet, and personal computer synchronization. Advancements such as these have also created new opportunities for the spreading of the Gospel and ministry training that much of the church has yet to consider.
Jesus said, “Worldly people are more clever than spiritually-minded people when it comes to dealing with others”
(Luk 16:8 GW).
Value of Church Leadership Teams
Value that translates into skills on your ministry resume
Organizational leaders and employers are beginning to understand the value of non-traditional education and experiences. Interestingly, it is not technical skills that seem to be the object of demand in today’s market. Research spanning some 20 years demonstrates that personality, and good interpersonal skills are strongly related to employment success and promotion (Howard & Bray, 1990; Hartmann, Larsen & Nyborg, 2009). These attributes are sometimes referred to as people skills, interpersonal skills, or soft skills. People who exhibit these qualities are described as self-aware, good communicators, having the ability to negotiate, initiate conflict resolution, seekers of mutual understanding, and being good team-players (Baker, 2009).
Shouldn’t all of these qualities already describe Christians?
Leading Church Ministry by Virtual Teams
The growing demand for people skills is likely due to the increase in communication opportunities on personal, local, national and even global levels –virtual global teams. The current progression of online collaboration technology is ushering a global economy that is revolutionizing the ways in which organizations communicate. One example is the practice of using teams to meet objectives. This is becoming a common approach to modern productivity methods. Even more so, virtual teams are rising to levels of great interest to secular management. Such teams are characterized by selected groups of people who work together toward mutual objectives across the boundaries of time, space, and geographical locations. These are opportunities for ministry that the Apostles could have only dreamed of having.
A survey of more than 375 managers revealed that about “20% of the managers worked predominantly as a member of a virtual team, and about 40% worked at least temporarily in virtual teams” (Hertel, Konradt, & Voss, 2006, p. 478). These numbers are from 2006, which means that they are old by now. The implication is that far more managers are now working in virtual environments. The popularity of these teams is attributed to the interconnectedness of people from every part of the world that has generated a global marketplace that is now managed by global virtual teams. With the widespread availability of communication technology, these connections are expected to continue rising. As a response to contemporary business needs, even universities are beginning to require students to work together on teams in preparation for their careers. Some schools are even requiring their residential students to take one online class every semester. As Choi, Deek and Im (2009) demonstrate, well suited teams tend to make better quality decisions. Interestingly, this success is attributed to proper selection and inclusion of team members with diverse personality factors.
Implications for Christian Ministers
1. The way in which technology is advancing creates new opportunities for ministry that churches have not even remotely tapped. Ministers looking for places to advance the kingdom of God should consider this rich soil just waiting to be harvested.
2. Working on virtual teams offers fresh perspectives to ministry, develops new communication skills, technical knowledge, and experience which is valued by contemporary employers.
3. The National Association of Christian Ministers values the ministerial training opportunities made available by virtual ministry teams using online collaboration. For these reasons, we offer online theology courses that require participation on virtual teams; thereby, developing skills to face modern needs in ministry.