These thoughts are wet cement (aren’t everyone’s thoughts?!)… but here are some things I hope to bring to our University Fellowship of Christians (AFES Christian Union) staff meeting today to consider as UTAS moves towards online learning and Australian society moves increasingly towards social distancing strategies to flatten the curve of the coronavirus.
Many of my colleagues in other Christian Union groups around the country are coming up with impressive and substantial plans to move their ministry online. Praise God for the amazing technological tools we have to facilitate this. But here are some minority report thoughts on CUs, coronavirus and online options:
1) People will get screen fatigue: if they are online for classes and church… at some point they’ll get sick of going online.
2) Engagement in online content delivery (as opposed to interactive community) is drastically limited. Don’t put too much emphasis on content delivery.
3) Christian Unions are not necessary the way churches are. If all unis were always online, would AFES have been created in the first place? Would it look anything like what our programs (and our new online versions) be what we’d create. We need to think like pioneer missionaries, not mere online program duplicators.
4) Those theological colleges who have done a great job already at setting up online learning are better equipped to deliver a powerful online learning experience than we are: perhaps we should push students eager for more training to Ridley or Moore or St Mark’s or wherever…?
5) Now is the time to capitalise on our emphasis on every-member-ministry and disciple-making disciples. We don’t need to focus on completely duplicating the influence and role of staff and public meetings
6) Beyond our fundamental purpose, we do have a short-term role to love our neighbours in practical, social, emotional and spiritual ways… so we need to ask how we need to evolve short-term to facilitate these good deeds, while not mutating in such a way that we can’t re-focus on our core mission when (God-willing) the health crisis subsides.
7) The economy is taking a hit. We need to be thinking support raising now… and Plan Bs if support raising takes a hit.