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10-31-13 Social Media Catches Up With Week of Prayer
By Ivan Williams, director, NAD Ministerial Association
Written for the October Adventist World NAD Edition)
|[Photo by Digital Vision]|
A Different Kind of Fellowship
Grace represents many of those who treasure times of fellowship, prayer, and revival, but whose schedules will not allow for a nightly trip to the church. Yet things may be changing in the North American Division this fall. George Johnson, Communication director for the North American Division (NAD) is turning social media loose on solving the Week of Prayer scheduling issue.
“We wanted to try something new this year,” says Johnson. “We know that not everyone is able to get out to the church every night, but we didn’t want them to miss out on the week of prayer. Now, with the technology of social media, they can read and pray together through a virtual week of prayer.”
Week of Prayer has been a long-standing tradition in the Adventist Church. Stephen Chavez, coordinating editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World, reflects, “Back when I was a pastor we would order extra copies of the Review for the church, then gather together Sabbath evening and read and discuss the devotional. Then we would continue throughout the week, sometimes at the church, sometimes at elders’ homes to study and pray together.”
The tradition continues this year starting November 2-9. A special edition of Adventist Review dated September 26 carries all eight readings for the week of spiritual emphasis. The title, And they Followed Him, explores what it means to be a disciple of Jesus ion the twenty-first century. The primary author of this year’s readings is Larry Lichtenwalter, director of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies and chair of the Theology faculty at Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon. Other authors include Ted N. C. Wilson, General Conference president, and Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Church co-founder.
“The Week of Prayer focuses on revival and the Christian life,” says Wilson, “and how we can have a vibrant, happy, and rewarding relationship with God.”
For Grace and others who have a scheduling conflict, social media may provide a way to participate in this year’s week of prayer without space and time constrictions.
Embracing the Technology
Social media is a world where people can interact, create, share, and exchange information without having to be in the same room at the same time. Facebook may be the most familiar social media site, with more than a billion users worldwide. Churches have begun to take advantage of social media by engaging the greater virtual community on a personal basis in discussions, Bible studies, and mission projects. Social media savvy churches see themselves not confined to a specific time or place. Local ministry can happen 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world. This fall social media catches up with Week of Prayer.
Dave Gemmell, associate director of the NAD Ministerial Department is looking forward to harnessing social media for this year’s Week of Prayer. “Our staff will be hosting this year’s Week of Prayer virtually via Facebook. This November you can go to www.facebook.com/NADAdventist and find the reading for the day along with discussion questions. You can share your feedback on the reading as well as prayer requests. My colleagues in Ministerial will be there. I’m looking forward to meeting you. Together we can study and pray together.”
Perhaps things will be different for Grace Underwood this year. After the kids are tucked in she may have some quiet moments to sit down with her computer or tablet device and take in the reading for the day. She might type in her reflections on the reading. She could read others comments and give words of encouragement. Grace may be brave enough to type in her prayer requests and enjoy having many in the virtual prayer meeting lift her up in prayer as well as pray for others in the virtual meeting. Even though she is physically alone, Grace may experience the fellowship of hundreds this November in NAD’s virtual Week of Prayer.