Pastors Are Choosing the Wrong Platform: How to Choose the Right One
I’m on social media just as much as the next person, if not more. I manage six different accounts including my own. Whether related to Intrepid, my personal account, coffee, academia, or urban studies I spend a lot of time of social media. Not as much time perusing feeds as I am posting and interacting. As a result I see a lot of accounts and profiles. I also see a lot of social media accounts and profiles of pastors and church planters. Too many. It’s painful to watch. I feel like that person who comes upon a car crash. You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t help. That’s how I feel about the innumerable social profiles from churches, church plants, pastors, and church planters.
In today’s digital economy the name of the game is building your platform and capitalizing (i.e. monetizing) on it. I get that. I also wrestle with that tension as well. Since part of my life revolves around academia I am most certainly trying to promote my writings and books through a variety of platforms. I’m not crying foul. But what I am saying … or will say is this … if ministry is your focus, whether via a church or church planting, then building your personal platform is not the way to go. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great if you’re about connecting with other Christians in your community and wooing them to your church. But if it’s the 90-95% “other” who’d never step foot into one of your worship gatherings then your supposed platform is self-promotional at best.
I love spending time in the classroom everyday with university students, particularly those who didn’t grow up in church. You see, they have no idea who the latest Christian celebrities are. They think Hillsong is about that scene from the original The Sound of Music when they are, well, singing in the hills. They don’t know the latest celebrity pastors (nor their books) in their expensive shoes and Gucci belts. They are wonderfully unaware that that world even exists. So young pastor or church planter when you try to build you platform with that same template it lands with a hollow thud. Only a small slice of church people even know. Everyone else has no idea. The questions are … what kind of platform are you trying to build? Who are you trying to connect with?
You’re building the wrong platform.
At Intrepid we’re all about helping you establish and build a platform to connect with people in your community who don’t get or like church (although they may think Jesus was a solid dude). But this is not your platform. This platform looks like a new business or non-profit. A social enterprise. Why is this important?
If you walk into a social circle with your I’m-an-awesome-peacher-pastor-platform people look at you oddly. It doesn’t resonate nor connect with the rest of culture. On the other hand, if your platform is a new artisan bakery, non-profit tutoring program, bike repair shop, coworking space, new chapter of a trail building organization, and more then all of a sudden people will get you. They’ll get you for you. Not that you know how to preach verse-by-verse in the ESV and like to read and quote dead theologians. All they will know is, “Hey, you’re that dude who fixed my daughter’s bike.” Or, “Hey, you run that new bakery. I LOVE your gluten free muffins!”
See the difference?
If we’d spend more time building these kinds of platforms rather than our own we’ll see the gospel demonstrated more in our communities and even more people will have the opportunity to hear the good news of a savior who left his platform, serve (not to be served), and give his life as a ransom. All it takes is a willingness to set yourself aside (like Jesus) and start a business or non-profit.
Written by Sean Benesh
Director of Intrepid