Archive for April, 2014

Social media and our church

By Jess Ward.

Before you blame social media for rotting the minds of young people everywhere, causing traffic accidents, inciting bizarre and useless flash mobs, and pretty much ruining the future of all mankind, consider the fact that social media is a tool. Its usefulness is completely dependent… on the user.

calloutLet’s start with the basics: Social media is vicarious technology. You get to visually experience what’s happening in your friends’ lives with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram. It’s rather like a choose-your-own-ending book (remember those?): you create your experience based on who your friends are. It can be positive and personal or just a complete waste of time. Don’t get me started on “twitpics” of people’s lunches. I mean, really?

Social media also has infinite potential to be used as a tool for meaningful communication. When I was interviewing to work here at FBC, one of the search team members asked me what kind of role I thought social media would play in the life of the church. I explained that social media is not a silver bullet, but it’s a free and easy way to turn people’s attention toward what you want them to see: volunteer opportunities, a need for donated books, a not-to-be-missed series on happy marriage.

During my eight-year career as a local TV news producer, social media was one of the quickest and most effective ways to drive the audience to our broadcast. It didn’t subtract any worth from the product, like so many people had feared. Social media was the perfect “teaser” for our content. That’s exactly how I use it here at FBC. I’ll tweet the link to our live webcast along with a sentence like: “you don’t need to get out of bed to be at #FBCRichmond.” (A hashtag, #, is basically used to indicate a thread of related tweets.) On Facebook, you’ll see posts that include upcoming events, the menu for Wednesday night’s dinner, a link to Dr. Somerville’s latest blog post, and our daily devotional. Our social media content is meant to encourage personal interaction with the church and its congregation.

The ultimate goal for the Ministry of Communication is to use Facebook, Twitter, and any future social media to invite people to be part of our community. Just like using a tool. And I’m pretty sure Jesus is okay with tools; He was a carpenter after all.

FBC Facebook page

First Baptist Church Facebook page

FBC Twitter page

First Baptist Church Twitter page

Jess WardJess Ward has served Richmond’s First Baptist Church as Director of Communication since September 2013. She comes from a live, local TV news background and loves all things to do with journalism. Her vision for FBC is to make the worship services easier to access digitally (webcast, broadcasts, podcasts) and most importantly: in person.

Read Full Post »

By Susan Beach.

Resurrection StoriesResurrection is core to our faith. Even if we have trouble understanding or explaining it, we believe Jesus was resurrected, that He triumphed over worldly powers and over death.
We have more trouble appropriating resurrection for ourselves – not doubting it will happen when we die so much as what it means in our daily lives.

How do we deal with our mistakes, broken relationships and doubts? How do we forgive those who have hurt or disappointed us? Does resurrection shape how we love those who aren’t Christians, much less how we work with those whose rules for being Christian are drastically different from ours? Are the personal, the mundane or the uncomfortable exempt from the powerful experience of resurrection?

Resurrection speaks to the changes caused by major life events: retirement, divorce, empty nest. It speaks to broken hearts and broken lives, to how we live with our faith family and how we live in our neighborhood, to how we face our workdays and to what we dare dream of. It affects every part of our lives.

Resurrection is more than a new beginning. It is a beginning with purpose and joy, a beginning that opens our lives to time redeemed through our relationship with God.

Check out the Resurrection stories blog where some FBC folks have told their stories. Comment on those stories, tell your own story, or ask a question. We hope this will be the beginning of a wonderful conversation, one that will make resurrection part of our daily lives.

Read Full Post »

Story and photo by Skyler Cumbia.

In the dusk of the evening, I watched across the field. The burning bush illuminated the dark sky, and rats scurried to escape the fire’s wrath. God’s fire was consuming me; my inward rats were fleeing and if I waited long enough, the charred earth of my life might give way to green sprigs of life. I hoped for something new to come.


Intentional bush fire flushes out rats and mice in Ghana.

I believe that it is not so much in the winds or earthquakes or fires of life that God speaks to us, but in the quiet afterwards. We can be so overwhelmed with what the world has to say that we forget to sit still and listen to what God has to say. Sometimes we are frustrated when we don’t hear God’s voice; we only hear the silence. But maybe silence is all God needs for us to hear, maybe just a few minutes of quiet and rest is enough to give us a fresh outlook on our circumstances. God uses the peace that follows the turmoil to speak to our hearts.

The cycles of nature are like the cycles of faith: Fire’s destruction gives way to new life; Jesus’ death offers resurrection to all. Something new is coming.

Editor’s note: Read about Skyler’s experiences in Ghana and check out her blog.

Read Full Post »