Post by Mike Calacci
Writing exercises that help people grow spiritually can be a challenge. As a pastor for the past 24 years, I have done my best to serve people in this way. So recently when I, as part of team, was asked to write a large number of these exercises, I thought it sounded like a good fit. I underestimated, however, the task that was ahead.
The exercises were to be written to four broad segments of people: those exploring Christianity, new to Christianity, fairly mature Christians, and, lastly, those completely sold out to Christ. The challenge intensified as we faced the reality that the four segments were actually sub-divided into 21 segments. That is, 21 unique places people could be on their spiritual journey. The challenge increased even more when we considered that each exercise needed to be written in an interactive applet smart phone ready format.
That’s when both fear and excitement hit me. I was afraid that this might be impossible and, at the same time, excited about the possibilities of bringing together technology and spiritual growth.
Fast-forward six months with the task now complete. I only wish I knew then, what I know now. Here are four things I experienced:
- The Power of Personal Knowledge – The more you know a person the better you can create an exercise that will help them. Call to mind the faces of people you know as you’re writing and create an activity to help them personally.
- The Power of Simple Language – The Christian world is filled with Christian jargon, words familiar only to a particular group of Christians. Choose words that would speak straight to the issue and force yourself to explore the foundational concepts of your content.
- The Power of Brevity – Since our assignments were created with a phone screen in mind, they needed to be brief. Though tempted to say more to ensure clarity, we found that saying less could produce greater clarity. Further, a short assignment can be helpful. In our busy world, a ten-to-fifteen minute interruption in our day to engage with God is impactful.
- The Power of Community – People grow spiritually in community. So, designing exercises that encourage people to interact with others adds a greater potential for change. I found great hope in imagining what God would do through the conversations we encouraged in the exercises.
I am thankful to God for providing me this challenge of writing in the digital space. I was reminded of the importance of these key communication principles and, at the same time, encouraged by the possibilities of using digital space for the church. Like all things, technology can be used for good or evil, so I encourage you to be proactive and lead the way in using it for good to serve your congregation.
Mike Calacci is the Content Lead and Church Deployment Director for Engage International, a partner of Willow Creek Association that helps church leaders leverage technology for ministry. Find them online at EngageChurches.com and @EngageChurches, or visit the charging stations at The Global Leadership Summit, powered by Engage International.