May 12, 2023

Conference Equips Adventist Communicators to Share Jesus Online

Event discusses how technology is transforming evangelism, and what to do about it.

Juliana Muniz, Adventist Record
Tim Gillespie was one of the main speakers at the event. [Photo: Adventist Record]

More than 180 aspiring digital evangelists from across the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were equipped to share their faith more effectively on digital platforms at the Digital Discipleship Conference in Parramatta, New South Wales, from May 5 to 7.

Participants from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand gathered to hear featured keynote speakers experienced in digital evangelism across various media such as TikTok, YouTube, podcasts, gaming, Instagram, and film.

The conference aimed to equip, inspire, and motivate church members to share their faith using digital tools. Tim McTernan, the event organizer and Adventist Media marketing manager, highlighted the importance of using digital tools to promote spiritual growth, particularly among younger generations.

He shared the statistic that 46 per cent of Gen Z use TikTok on a weekly basis to make spiritual decisions. “If young people are going to social media for spiritual growth, what will they find? We need to be there. We need to be present to guide these young people and equip them with what the Bible says,” McTernan said.

Speakers such as Justin Khoe, Colby Maier, Tim Gillespie, Dave Adamson, and film producer Terry Benedict shared their expertise in using media and digital platforms to spread the gospel and make disciples. The conference also offered workshop sessions on various topics, from building church social media plans to understanding the power of storytelling.

During the special awards dinner on May 6, American film producer Terry Benedict, who co-produced the Oscar-nominated movie Hacksaw Ridge, highlighted the power of storytelling in conveying biblical principles and inspiring people to be better versions of themselves. He emphasized the need for creative people and storytellers “to create and tell stories based on biblical principles that people can relate to and apply in their own lives.”

A survey conducted after the event revealed positive feedback from attendees, with many expressing that they felt inspired and equipped to share their faith using digital tools. 

Josh Stothers, associate pastor of Castle Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church, expressed his excitement in applying the insights and tools learned from the conference to his local church’s digital ministries.

“I’ve been a big advocate for digital discipleship in the church for a few years now and was so excited from the get-go to be a part of this conference. I was also excited to go with a team from church and learn together,” he said.

“I plan to apply what I’ve learned in a couple of ways: First, I would love to continue to build up the digital ministries of the local church that I pastor and continue to work on our strategies as a team. I also really enjoy making short-form content for my personal social media, and I got lots of awesome new tools and ideas from the event to test out,” Stothers said.

To continue supporting and encouraging church members and leaders, the digital discipleship team said they plan to upload the conference presentations to their website and social media pages, making the content accessible to church members worldwide.

The original version of this story was posted on Adventist Record.