“Developing Cultural Competent Leadership and Viral Communities is about what this site is for.”
I recall a day in year 2012 when I suddenly realized that the first PC users were turning fifty. In another decade they will find themselves in sixties. And the changes in the world only seem to accelerate as the time is passing. I remember the time when the term “Millennial Generation” was used to refer to infants, but the Millennial have now grown to be the most numerous group in our society and will become its backbone when they will be in their 20s, 30s, and 40s in ten years. This is the generation that has been born into and raised with what was a dramatic change to the older generation – technology as a medium of relationship. Indeed, they were “born with a silver mouse in their mouth!” Because of the way in which the Millennial naturally embrace technology in their relationships, it is certain that they will bring forth further changes distinguished from those of the preceding generations.
As I look at where our church is today, I am saddened by the reality that one of our biggest concerns seem to be just to keep the church building standing. It pains me to see empty pews, but it is excruciating to see the deep disconnect between the church and the local communities. The rigid voice of the old generation that insists blind obedience to the old way, denying the place of technological advancement in church, has long become a meaningless noise. Many still refuse to recognize the intimate connection between the church and the current culture, only repeating, “we were just fine without those technologies.”
It is undeniable that we now have come to an age in which our life is inseparable from the technologies we use – from Google search to tablet PCs and smart phones, which have become necessities in our life. Tens of millions of people are making and developing relationships through online and mobile social networking sites at this very moment. If H. Richard Niebuhr wrote his book “Christ and Culture” sixty years later than he actually did, the title would have been “Christ and Technology.” However, our church has severed and isolated itself from the communities that are saturated with technology. The hope of new channels of relationships is nowhere, and the precious time and energy of many ministers are being expended on closing down churches. We find ourselves losing the “wildness” of Christians in the reality we have created, in which the increase in fund balances from the proceeds from sale of church commensurate with our definition of “vitality.” Despite that our young people are reportedly the most religious generation of all, it is not easy to find them in churches. I do not think it would be too much of a stretch to say that our church has completely lost touch with them.
But the Holy Spirit kindly comforts my distressed heart and guides me in prayer, and the first step in that guidance is the launch of RPMBox. RPMBox stands for Relational Pastoral Ministry toolBOX. This organization embodies my life experiences, prior to my life as a minister, as a computer engineer and a CEO at a couple of IT Companies who worked with many Fortune 500 companies for twenty years. When I was called to ministry in 2002, I was very blessed to serve two mega churches in New York and New Jersey, and my prior professional experience was exceptionally useful. I, then in 2007, planted a new church in Manhattan for the diverse young adults and incorporated my IT background into ministry, for there were technology presences everywhere in their culture, which was the inception of my indispensable ministry. Now I feel that it is time for me to seriously share the digital ministry with fellow servants of the Lord. The church I planted in Manhattan, which really is the laboratory for digital ministry, was chartered in the New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church within three years under the leadership of its members in their 20s and 30s and was subsequently selected as a Vital Congregation by the Conference. This young congregation has successfully launched a multi-site project and developed five sites, as transferring its vital DNA of ‘Cultural Competent Leadership and Viral Community Development’ into the new congregation, within 18 months. This project resulted in two independent congregations still growing and several pastors willingly planting a new church or a faith community for the diverse young adults in the urban area. The mother congregation is still growing as serving the young New Yorkers through dynamic and innovative ministries. This project, in 2015, was highly celebrated and exemplified, by Path1: New Church Start, Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, by naming the congregation as a thriving and vital new & multiplying church in the Northeast Jurisdiction.
I have shared, since year of 2000, all my experience, knowledge, trends, skills, insights and paradigms in numerous seminars, conferences, classes and conversations over a cup of coffee at Drew Theological School, Claremont Theological School, Wesley Theological School, Discipleship Ministries of The UMC, School of Congregations, Path1 Church Planters Conference, and events at Conference and District-levels. Through all, I am more affirmed that developing culturally competent leadership and viral communities through digital ministry will surely help us now move forward to the future that God is opening in the digital age. The news of innovative ministries and birth of viral congregations through digital ministry is the very reason that I am penning this article at this late hour, although I need to get to sleep soon since I need to be up in a few hours for our online morning service, where young people come together in cyber space to praise the Lord together, read the Scripture and pray in community. And the best part is that, beyond this culture saturated with technology, the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ will continue to reach every generation in every corner of this world. O Come, my Lord!
Rev. Dr. Paul Moon, Founder of RPMBox