Clergy Appreciation Month: Using Tech Tools for Ministry


October is Clergy Appreciation Month and the North Georgia Conference has approximately 1,300 reasons (and people) to celebrate. North Georgia clergy serve in local churches, as chaplains, as missionaries, as campus ministers, in hospitals, in our related agencies, and beyond. This month we will lift up a few who are doing something inspiring, have a unique talent, or who you might just want to get to know!

Meet three of the many North Georgia Conference clergy using technology in ministry.

Shannon Karafanda Prays on Periscope
Rev. Shannon Karafanda is an ordained deacon who serves as Associate Pastor of Cornerstone UMC in Newnan. She uses a live video streaming app.

1. What drew you to Periscope?
My friend Rev. Lisa Jenkins from St. Matthew's Baptist in Harlem, NY was using Periscope to do midday devotional moments for her congregation. I joined in a few times and thought it was a great way to connect with busy people during the week. Lisa was busy herself. She often did these devotional moments from a parking lot in her car, at an outdoor cafe, or during a walk outside the church. She was a reminder that you are never too busy to connect to God and share God's love with others.
2. What do you use it for?  
Inspired by her, I began to use Periscope as our prayer team prayer-walked in our sanctuary at Cornerstone. We would pray over the chairs and pray for our church and community. As we prayed others would pray for us online and send us their prayer requests. Later I used Periscope to highlight out music groups during rehearsals to give people a sample of would happen in worship on Sunday. I'm not sure how much more I'll use Periscope. With Facebook and Twitter rolling out "live" broadcasts as well, we may switch mediums to ways in which we are already connected. We will stay on top of the statistics to see which has the broadest reach so that we can make the biggest impact.
3. How has using Periscope effected your ministry?
Video is the most popular marketing strategy for businesses. 46% of people say they would seek out more information after watching a video. I can't know for sure if our unknown Periscope viewers went to church after viewing or had a transforming moment, but I do know that I was able to connect to our church Periscope viewers on a new level. Each of them sought me out to have a deeper conversation after viewing the broadcast. They had a different connection to Cornerstone that inspired them to pray or reflect on worship.

Kevin Murriel Hosts Bible Study on Facebook Live
Rev. Kevin Murriel is an ordained elder and serves as pastor of Cliftondale UMC. He takes Facebook to the next level.

1. What inspired you to use Facebook Live for your bible study?
John Wesley believed that the world was his parish. I hold a similar belief. In the 21st century this must also translate into the online, virtual world. Facebook is one of the only platforms that allows instant connectivity to people worldwide. I reasoned that if people could post pictures of parties or write opinionated reviews on a myriad of issues, then I could use Facebook as a platform to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has become a vital part of my ministry.
2. How long are these sessions, and what do they entail?
 I am moving to a monthly study that will last about 45 minutes to an hour. The vision for this study (TGIT-Thank God It’s Tuesday) is to provide a perspective of the Bible that addresses real and relevant issues with the end viewer in mind. This is a very intentional Bible Study. It is meant to target people who are in church, but wrestling with life, and people who rarely, if ever, go to church and are also wrestling with life. Some of the topics so far have covered the racial divide in America, relationships, dealing with heartbreak, faith, and finding purpose.
3. How has using this tool helped your ministry?
Our analytics show that the videos are viewed on average over 1,000 times. We also live stream through YouTube and Google Plus so the videos are saved on multiple platforms that reach multiple audiences. The reciprocity from this ministry is that people share the videos with others and we have had people visit and subsequently join Cliftondale Church simply through their connection to Facebook Live. At the end of each video, I invite anyone who would like to, to repeat the prayer of salvation after me and I conclude with a prayer for our entire online audience (those who were live and those will view the recorded video). The fruit of this ministry is that people have come to know Jesus Christ through Facebook Live. It is a sacrifice but it is yielding positive results.

Robert King Participates in a Group Podcast
Rev. Robert King, a provisional elder who serves as an associate pastor at Cascade UMC, is host of a popular podcast.

1. Why did you decide to start a podcast? What is its purpose?
The name of our podcast is “The Good Life Podcast”. For clarity, I am the only clergy member of the “Last Disciples”: our group name for the podcast. My other four friends are serving God’s church in dynamic ways as laity.
I didn’t start the podcast myself, but it was birthed as a dream through a friend with whom I served in campus ministry during college at Clark Atlanta University. For several years during my matriculation, I served as a Chaplain Assistant for our University Chapel Ministry. During that time, I became close friends with four other Chaplain Assistants. 
One of the blessings of our collective friendship was the rich fellowship we shared together. We often laughed with each other, cried with each other, prayed with other, encouraged each other, and spoke authentically about our journey of Christian faith with other.  After we all graduated from college, we found ways to stay connected with each other in conversation. 
In the midst of one of our chats, God gave a vision to one of us, Jaleesa Hall, that our conversations should be shared with the world. This was the birth of the podcast. In this sacred space, we could create room for Millenials to speak freely, think critically and live authentically through faith in Jesus Christ. After having this vision, Jaleesa invited all of us to live into this bold, creative vision together, and the rest is history.
So as a recap, the purpose of the podcast is to create sacred space for young people to “speak freely, think critically and live authentically” through faith in Jesus Christ.
2. What have you enjoyed most about it?
What has brought me the most joy in doing this podcast is spending time talking about relevant issues in faith, life and pop culture with my friends. Throughout the years, I have shared so much of my life’s journey with these four friends. It is a blessing to have the opportunity invite others into our conversation so that others can become more Christlike in their attitudes and actions.
3. How has having this podcast aided in your ministry?
Having this podcast has aided in my ministry in several ways. First, the Christian community I experience with the Last Disciples has sharpened my personal faith in God. The monthly conversations we have strengthen my faith in Christ and expand my imagination for what meaningful discipleship and ministry look like for young people in today’s culture.
Also, the Good Life Podcast has created a great entry point of faith exploration for young adults who are at varying places in their faith journey. As a result, the Good Life has helped to draw people closer to God whom might not immediately come to a church worship service.
Lastly, it has expanded my ministry so that I’m able to share the Gospel in a relevant, conversational way with people all around the world. Our online podcast is accessible in ways that touch people beyond my local community. So that is a blessing from God.

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