The ‘What if?’ question sparks possibility thinking and promotes creativity. Unfortunately, people spend so much time on ‘What if?’ that they never move on to actually doing anything with their vision.
What if we could engage the lost with online ministry?
‘Should?’ is an evaluative question. We need to evaluate things, but we need clear time limits and trigger points on the evaluation process. I’ve seen too many discussion bogged down by people asking the ‘Should’ question without any intention of letting the process move on.
Should we engage in online ministry? What are the indicators that we should? What are the indicators that we shouldn’t? How long are we going to evaluate the process before we launch a test project? Is a test project necessary to answer the ‘Should’ question in the first place?
‘Who?’ is a leadership and staffing question. ‘Who?’ is important because the people you assign to a directly influence that project’s success. I can teach and train potential online missionaries all day long, but if I do not start with someone who loves God, deeply cares for the lost, is a learner, and is a self-starter, I will be pulling my hair out inside three months.
‘Who?’ is also a focus question. Who are we trying to reach?
Who do we need on the team to make online ministry happen? What is it going to take to find that person? What is it going to take to keep that person on our team?
“What?” is a resourcing question. You can have the right personnel in place, but if you don’t give them the resources they need, the project will fail. (Don’t forget, your people may have to develop the resources they need to get complete the project.)
What do we need to get our online ministry started?
‘When?’ is a timing question. You may have a great project, great staff, and abundant resources, but the timing might be against you. Five years ago we didn’t have the online tools we needed to do the kinds of online ministry we can do today.
When is the right time to start our online ministry? What are the trigger points we’re looking for to let us know if it is the right time?
Where is a location question, which is kind of funny when you are talking about online ministry! ‘Where?’, though, is important. Where are the people we want to reach hanging out online – Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Plurk? Where are we going to engage them? Are we focusing our online efforts to reach people in our offline geographical area?
‘Why?’ is a motivational question. No one can tell you what your motivation.
Motivation can influence the nature of the fruit of your ministry – whether it will be good or bad, whether it will grow beyond the first generation or not.
Motivation can also affect longevity. If you are in online ministry for the money, you’re probably not going to be in it very long.
This question should be answered by your ministry and each person involved in your online project.
Why do we want to get involved in online ministry?
‘How?’ is an implementation question. In my opinion, everything should lead up to ‘How?’ But, as I attend conferences and talk with people, I see them getting hung up on ‘If?’ and ‘Should?’ and never ask ‘How?’ If you never get to asking and answering ‘How?’ you will never have an online ministry
In my opinion, we need more conferences that help people deal with ‘How? Instead, we have internet conferences that debate ‘If?’ and ‘Should?’ without any plan to move on to ‘How?’ I watch people enjoy the power they have to stall the conversation with ‘If?’ and ‘Should?’ when they never had any intention of moving on to ‘How?’. And that really bugs me.
How are we going to reach lost people online? If we don’t ultimately ask this question, all the others are meaningless.
*Special thanks to David L. Watson to helping me identify and analyze these questions.