The myriad methods of communication available to almost every one is another good thing about today. Once I have completed writing this post it will automatically be announced to my 186 friends on Twitter, my 433 friends on Facebook as well obviously being on my website. While Twitter you may have to sign up to, and Facebook you certainly do, my website is open to anyone with internet access
Further, on my website you can sign up for RSS feeds from my site to be sent directly to your RSS reader and even for it to be delivered to your inbox as an e-mail. These methods are easy to sign up. They are free. They are automated. Yet for all that there are things I share here which many of my friends, family and supporting churches will never see. Why? Because this method of communication is unfamiliar and perhaps even disliked by them. This is no criticism of them, it is just the way it is.
I favour a method of communication, in most instances, where I put information out “there” and it is freely available for anyone to go and get it. Others prefer the method of communication which involves me going directly to them with the information and practically placing it in their hands.
My preferred methods involve e-mail lists, blog updates, Twitter/Facebook statuses, RSS feeds and so on.
Other people prefer an individualised e-mail, a letter in the post, a phone call or perhaps a text message.
So there are times when someone may not have heard some news and my reaction is, “But I thought I told you?” My problem is not identifying other people’s preferred methods of communication and catering to it.
This is probably better detailed in a single post, but think how much time, energy and money you could save a missionary by not requiring a physical letter. I know, I know, it’s only a $1 or thereabouts to send a letter, even from overseas. But consider if a missionary just has 50 supporters and sends out updates 4 times a year. Over a twelve year period it will cost close to $2500 when with modern methods of communication, such as e-mail, that could be reduced to $0.
Take it further, what of physically requiring a missionary to come back every four years? I am thankful in that my supporting churches do not ask this of me. But some do. How many thousands upon thousands of $$$’s does it cost for them to fly to the USA from their field? How much damage does it do to their church while they’re gone? What of the impact on their family as they live on the road and try to home school in hotel rooms? While it is not exactly the same, much of this can be done via a video link using the freely available Skype software.
I realise I have painted a bleak picture there of furlough, certainly many enjoy the fellowship and the opportunity to visit various landmarks around the country. I certainly enjoy the travelling and the fellowship. And the food, I enjoy the fellowship and the food. But if your missionary were to request a video update rather than a physical visit would you allow them?
I know this is a bit of a rant, but there are so many ways in which modern missions could and perhaps should adapt, but are we making the most of those opportunities? A missionary has the responsibility to get information to his supporting churches, but supporting churches can meet them half-way by using the methods of communication so easily available today.
Are we honouring God by best utilising the technological advantages available today? Will God one day ask why you had your missionary spend $2500 on letters when it could have been used other ways?
Just thinking out loud.