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The Church of God in Nigeria has been told to take advantage of the digital age to reach out to the unreached and do creative things that will edify them and glorify the name of the Lord.

This was the consensus at the end of a discussion programme anchored by the youths of Christ Apostolic Church at the end of their recently concluded Pastors’ Conference in Ikeji Arakeji, of Osun State.

Discussing The Digital Pastor and the Digital Church in a session of Analysis of the events at the Pastors’ Conference, a team of discussants anchored by Pastors Tolu Tope-Dada and John Adeyinka in conjunction with other computer savvy members and young pastors took their viewers on a journey of how the Church of God, zeroing it to Christ Apostolic Church could play leading roles in making the Church relevant in the current digital age.

The analysis which was an exposition of what it would take to make a good success in digital ministry, would no doubt encourage many would be ministers launching into the digital arena.

They made many profound submissions of what the church and pastors could do to be internet compliant for the current digital age.

Internet was not a devil’s workshop.

They took the advantage to disabuse the mind of some corrupted ministers about the internet arguing that the Internet was not a devil’s workshop. They charged the Church to take the advantage of the digital age now, and any minister of God that refused to take the advantage of the social media would get expired.

According to one of the contributors, US based Pastor Femi King in his opening remarks said, “Pastoring in a digital age is about renewal of the mind and digitalising oneself, and undigitalised Pastors with their anointing will be caught unaware,”

He explained further that pastors would need to go the extra length by understanding the technicalities of the digital elements and they must prepare beyond the four wall of a building.

The Church has shifted from the brick walls

“Pastors must now understand IOS, Java Script, Python,  The Church has shifted from the brick walls to the digital space, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Talk, The Church is on You Tube. It has gone beyond the four walls of bricks and blocks. Many people, even in their offices can now prepare for service at the comfort of their homes and offices, and the message of the gospel still goes on.

“We cannot but advance and move with digital technology. Technology is not anti-gospel but pro gospel. Technology will take the message of the gospel to the world.” explained Canada based Pastor Tolu Malla.

Explaining that 4billion people watched the burial of the Queen Elizabeth II online and it was translated in about 45 languages, he said that more than 180 countries of the world heard the gospel through the burial of the Queen.

“That is the gospel reaching the entire world. A pastor cannot afford not to go digital in our digital age.  We can use online streaming to raise altar call to win souls. It is one of the ways to reach the unreached, the high and the low. There are places we may need visa to visit before we can go and preach the gospel, but with internet connection and the social media, you don’t need any visa,” expressed Pastor Malla.

They also discussed about Church without walls and how to make oneself relevant in this computer age, the role of Church members and how unreached people could be accessed through the internet in a digital age.

Asking “How do pastors update themselves and be relevant in a digital age?, they explained that Churches needed not to break bank before going digital, as they could start from the simple use of the smart phone.

“Whatever you can afford, start with something, start somewhere. Digital evangelism is very expensive though, yet every Pastor’s laptop or smart phone is the new pulpit. Digital pastors must go beyond the analogue level. Pastors must be on all digital social media handles,” they concurred.

Another issue that came up for discussion was whether the new generation pastors would not be labelled as lazy. This they quickly dismissed, arguing in favour of the positive influence of a digital church.

Record Keeping, the Church and the Internet

They took time to discuss about how to keep records with digital facilities, expressing that digital works would help to keep records, and pastors were advised to be mindful of the implications of record keeping of the digital messages, as the world would be keeping watch.

Dangers of the computer age and the Gospel

They also looked into what dangers the computer could pose to the world in the digital age, saying, “It is good to be a digital pastor but it could be dangerous. Many things we didn’t count to be important could be careful. Many things are easily recorded and such can be used against the digital pastors.”

They advised that “digital knowledge comes by humility, training, and reading and pastors need digital training on how to handle digital matters.”

Legal Implications

On the legal implications or ethics of digital contents, they noted that one may need permission to put some people on air. They posited that there are some things that are not supposed to be on social media like what to say and what not say on social media.

Other areas well noted by the discussants were that there were digital Churches without digital Pastors, and how a church and its pastor could go digital.

“There are lots of Pastors looking for digital churches but are not digital. Such can create digital platforms and make use of experts. A Church can assemble a digital team. That you have a digital platform does not make you a digital pastor. Get digital contents. Gather your contents digitally, and create your contents with wisdom,” they advised.

A New Task For Christ Apostolic Church

They did not close their discussion without taking the challenge of the digital church to the door steps of Christ Apostolic Church. They believed that CAC had more than enough materials to work on, yet they grossly under-utilise the internet. While appreciating the giant strides made by some of the fathers in the Church who have been making great impacts on the internet, they believed they could do more.

They noted that Prophet Hezekiah, the General Evangelist had 161, 000, followers, Prophet Sam Olu Alo has 297,000 followers CAC Youth has about 102,000, and the Church as a whole has just 18,000 followers.

“There is a big lacuna that needs to be attended to. With all we have in CAC, a new arm needs to come up, CAC as a whole has so much content, digitalisation is all about content. The church needs to stand up to go and start digitalising its contents. The Church should go ahead to digitalise all that had happened in the past, to go and start digitalising its revivals. Because the unborn baby wants to know what Apostle Babalola did, what Oba Akinyele did, people will like to know, what Pastor Oladele did, what Prophet Hezekiah did, and all these things need to be recorded.”

They also brought out a comparative figure of how other ministers of the gospel fared on the social media.

According to their figures, Pastor Adeboye had 5million followers on Facebook, Kenneth Copeland 1.7 followers on Facebook. T.D. Jakes 4.2 million, Bishop Oyedepo had 889,000. Pastor Chris Oyakhilomeh 2.1million, Creflo Dollar 2.2million, 5m Joy Oesteen 25million, Bishop David Abioye 2.1million, Joyce Meyer 11 million, and many of them still refer to CAC and the exploits of the fore fathers, and many of them still refer to the revival of Apostle Ayo Babalola.

In their submission, they pointed out that “CAC has so much contents of what has happened, what is happening and what is about to happen, charging the church “to go and start digitalising what has happened in the past, the revivals, the crusades, the testimonies,” arguing that “the Anointing that is not digitalised now will soon be forgotten.”

“CAC has a way of honouring records. The revival in Oke Bola 1930 took place in September (7, 8, 9, 10, thereabout) when Prophet Orekoya raised the dead pregnant woman of 1930. We need to digitalise the Church. Pastors must have blogs, and keep records. CAC must do a digital documentary on the 1930 revival.

“We need to digitalise our Church, Pastors need to keep Blogs, we need to keep records. We need to see ourselves as the digital man, with the digital mind, the digital Pastor, the digital community, and the digital Church.”

Commending the leadership of Pastor Samuel Oladele, the President of the Mission on championing the cause of a digital church, they all agreed that the church had a digital leadership in the president, they went further to explain that the Church also needs to raise digital members.

“The Church needs to raise digital members. The message of the gospel is for all people across the world,” as they also tasked the church to work on having its own social media handle.

“When are we going to have our own social media handle? Pastor Chris (Oyakilomeh) created his own Church Social media handle,” they noted.

They were very quick to point out that the digital arm of the church could not be run by volunteers, and as such competent and interested professionals should be raised to look into the computerisation project of the church.

“We have enough contents and materials. The church needs to look into what could be put together to have a secured website. Big organisations are talking about cyber security. We have a long way to go and we have to start now. 

On what infrastructure they needed to bring the materials together? They argued that a lot of money might be needed to put things in place.

“CAC is big enough to have its broad band and server. We have the members that have this knowledge but we need to bring the experts within together, to build the church of the 21st Century.

Concluding, they all agreed that many pastors who were said to have anointing would be out dated pastors if digital Church was not embraced, and pastors must go ahead to maximise the opportunities the computer technology has brought to the world and the Church should not sit idly by.

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Julius Adegunna, a writer, and publisher of good news and reports. He is also a trainer in Writing and Publishing, a Media Consultant and an Entrepreneur. A 1987 Graduate of International Relations of the University of Ife, (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) with Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations, and Master in Communication Studies of Lagos State University. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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