Online Chats: 15 Years of Invitation!

14 03 2014

by Brad Bryant, Steve Ferguson, Richard Hawks, and John Wight
Sunday Night Live

Sunday Night Live, our church’s online text chat for seekers, sponsored by the presidents of seventy, recently celebrated a key anniversary!

Every week for 15 years, one or more seventies has logged onto www.CofChrist.org/pathfinder, expectantly and prayerfully waiting to see who God would bring to our 9:00 p.m. (central time) chat room. For an hour, we explore Jesus, the church, sacraments, our spiritual journeys, scriptures, and other topics. We also offer prayer and support during every chat session, helping first-time visitors and longtime attendees with life situations.

Over the years, our moderators have included Mike Richard, Vern Foster, Ron Wood, John Wight, Steve Ferguson, Richard Hawks, and Brad Bryant. Several hosts have moved to other ministries and callings, but chat ministry continues. Sometimes, the moderator also will invite a “guest minister” or other supporting minister to share with seekers.

The chat’s format and focus have evolved over time, but the foundational message of Jesus Christ and Community of Christ continues to be “what matters most.”

It amazes us how God uses Internet communication through chats, e-mail, and other tools to change people’s lives and help them find the blessings they need through ministries around the world.

Besides visitors from across the USA, folks from other nations and time zones join us. Because chats are English-based, we struggle a bit when a visitor who speaks only Spanish, Portuguese, or another language shows up. These experiences help us realize how big this type of ministry can be. It is a portal to the world, allowing God to bring together people who never would have met otherwise.

Throughout the years, we also have encountered many “lost” members, helping them re-engage the church. We are a vital open door with a message of hope and invitation. For others, who because of geography or life situations are unable to attend a brick-and-mortar church, the chat has become “their church,” offering a special time to evaluate life, personal journey, God’s call, and other factors that bring blessings and help them reconnect with God.

We also have shared with ministers from other religions and denominations who chatted with us in our safe format. They’ve included a Jewish rabbi and an Anglican priest.

Our experiences have brought us to where we are today. The Spirit continues to stir among people of the world, and we must continue to grow, develop, and adapt to their needs. Perhaps our future will include offering chat ministries in other languages and time zones with new moderators or new technology.

Steve Ferguson, while reading a devotional, recently had an interesting thought about chat ministry. While our mission intent has remained constant since Jesus told his disciples, “Go ye and teach,” our missionary strategies have evolved. In each age, missionaries have taken advantage of the travel and communications afforded them.

Our chat rooms may be the modern equivalents of the itinerant “tent revival” preacher!

Our goal is not merely to provide a safe and welcoming gathering place for seekers, though that is important. Our goal is to get folks interested and excited about connecting with the church and participating locally.

We’ve seen that happen as God uses chats to introduce the church to folks, who then find a congregation and are loved into relationship. Baptisms, confirmations, administrations, attendance at retreats and reunions—they’ve all occurred, at least in part, because people passed through our chats on their journey to God.

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2 responses

18 03 2014
joelross2014

I have enjoyed the chat room conversations and they generate some good spiritual discussions. Try it!

14 03 2014
terryflowersblog

A good place to come and share the love and grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.




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