Online Engagement w/ Juanka Barrero, Yenny Buitrago, & Diego Gonzalez


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In this episode, Cara Garrity, interviews Diego Gonzalez, Yenny Buitrago, & Juanka Barrero. Diego & Yenny are the Love Avenue champions and Juanka and his wife, Bibi, are the Hope Avenue champions of Communion de Gracia Internacional Bogota, Columbia.

“We thank God for the technology because it is just another way to have a conversation about Christ and about his plan. This makes the church more flexible, and more relationships can be developed with the technology. The main purpose of the church online or virtually is the same purpose of the church face to face. So, it’s something very positive.”

— Juanka Barrero, Hope Avenue Champion
Communion de Gracia Internacional Bogota, Columbia

 

Main Points:

  • What role does online engagement play in the witness of the Love Avenue? 4:52
  • What online platforms do you use to engage? 11:43
  • What best practices have you found? Or things you’ve tried that haven’t worked so well? 19:26
  • What does collaboration between the Avenues look like with online engagement? 26:00
  • In practice, how do you distinguish between online presence as simple social media and online presence as mission and ministry? 31:32

 

Resources:

  • Church Communication Plan – Church Hack with four fundamental systems for your church’s communication plan.
  • Hybrid Avenues – Church Hack outlining digital engagement practices for each of the Avenues.
  • GCI Microsite – Your church’s website is your virtual front door. Having an up-to-date website is a great way to make a good first impression and communicate who you are and what you believe. The GCI Microsite is a resource we provide to help you have a professional, easy-to-customize website.

Program Transcript


Online Engagement w/ Juanka Barrero, Yenny Buitrago, & Diego Gonzalez

Welcome to the GC Podcast, a podcast to help you develop into the healthiest ministry leader you can be by sharing practical ministry experience. Here are your hosts, Cara Garrity and Jamie Garcia.

Cara: Welcome friends to today’s episode of GC Podcast. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to this quarter’s co-host, Jamie Garcia. Jamie is from GC Crossway in Pasig City, Philippines. As an extrovert and a connector in the 5 Voices [System from GIANT Worldwide], she loves being with people of all ages and connecting with them. She grew up in GCI for her whole life, participating in, serving in different ministries that allow her to love her church community and the bigger GCI body, all the more.

And at this time, she is a GCS student—a Grace Communion Seminary student, and she’s on her third semester and doing her best to balance work, ministry, and seminary, which she’s having a lot of fun at. So, Jamie welcome and thank you so much for being a co-host on the GC Podcast this quarter.

Jamie: Thank you, Cara. Hey everybody, Jamie here. Hello to the person listening to this podcast right now. I’m actually very excited to be here and to learn from today’s GC Podcast episode.

Cara: Yes. And speaking of that, Jamie, in this episode today, we’re going to be talking about online engagement and especially in the Love Avenue. So, I’m wondering what is one way that you have already been impacted by online or virtual ministry?

Jamie: Just one? Okay. I can actually share a lot, but basically in these two years of the pandemic I believe that as an extrovert, I couldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for my local church engaging with me online.

For the past two years, I can really say that I feel more connected with our seniors and also young people than ever before. Thanks to our virtual ministry.

Cara: Ah, amen. Thank you for sharing that. And I love that it comes back to connection. And I’m wondering, as a young adult yourself, what thoughts would you share with our listeners who are hoping to connect with young adults in their neighborhood through online ministry?

Jamie: There are many ways actually, but two things I have right now. So, the first one is look at online presence as an extension of whatever is developed offline or in real life. So, it has to start in the real world first and then be supplemented by engagement efforts in the online world. And so basically that’s the first thing.

And then the second thing is to realize that most of the time people are online to express themselves either with a meme, a rant, a joke, whatever. Therefore, one way is to engage them by loving them when we listen to them, and it always works. So basically, that’s my second tip to love by listening. People want to be heard and understood both in the real world and in the online world.

Cara: Jamie, that is so good. Thank you for sharing that with our listeners. I think that’s a really good place to start.

In GCI, we love that we are an international denomination. And so, for this interview, we are going to be having a conversation in both English and Spanish—our first ever bilingual episode of the GC Podcast. We’re going to be having real time translations during this episode.

So, we are very excited, and we hope that you are too. And so why don’t we go ahead and hear what Yenny, Diego, and Juanka have to say about their experiences with online engagement in Bogota, Columbia.


Cara: Hello friends, and welcome to today’s episode of GC Podcast. This podcast is all about exploring best ministry practices in the context of Grace Communion International church. I’m your host, Cara Garrity.

And today I am blessed to interview Diego Gonzalez, Yenny Buitrago, and Juanka Barrero. Diego and Yenny are the Love Avenue champions and Juanka and his wife, Bibi, are the Hope Avenue champions of Comunión De Gracia Internacional Bogota, Columbia. Thank you all so much for joining us today. I’m looking forward to discussing online engagement in the Love Avenue with you. So, thank you so so much. There’s so much to explore in this topic. So why don’t we just dive right in.

In one of his recent articles, the church researcher, Carey Nieuwhof, poses the question: What if the main purpose of church online is not to bring people to you, but to bring the gospel to people where they’re at?

So, to you, what role does online engagement play in the witness of the Love Avenue?

Yenny: [Spanish]

Diego: Yes, as Yenny says, in such case we will be obeying and truly responding to the call to love our God makes to the church and of which he speaks to us in Matthew 28:19-20. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, every day until end of the world. Amen.

Fulfilling the great commission since the mission of the church is to bring the gospel to every place, to every person where they are, in their locality, between localities, or even outside of countries of region. Sharing the gospel is not a burden, but a joy that we call members missionary work, which is an attitude to love and participation to help those around us.

Cara: Amen. Juanka, do you have anything that you would add to that?

Juanka: Yeah. Yeah. So, Matthew 20:28, very powerful, right? It doesn’t matter if we have a very incredible time face to face, you can also have an incredible time virtually. And it says that the main purpose is just to go and make disciples. And this is as the first prayer.

We thank God for the technology because it is another way just to have a conversation about Christ and about his plan. And so, this makes the church more flexible and more of relationships can be developed with the technology. So virtually—the main purpose of the church online virtually is the same purpose of the church face to face. So, it’s something very positive.

Cara: Amen. And I love how you all, connect that to the group commission that this is online engagement is for the purpose of mission for building relationships, for connecting with the people that are in our neighborhoods.

And so that, brings me to our next question. In the Love Avenue, we talk a lot about our neighborhoods and engaging in our neighborhoods, neighborhood churches. [But] the internet has no physical or geographical boundaries. So, what does it look like to maintain a neighborhood focus on your online engagement?

Yenny: [Spanish]

Diego: Yeah, Cara, in this case, Yenny says that also the internet has no limits. The use of information and communication technologies is very personal. So, to maintain a neighborhood approach, personal contact is essential, we make sure we can find a handshake, a kiss, a hug. And where I feel our fraternity arises among all, it is their work with joined forces is sometimes very important. We truly commit ourselves to work together towards the fulfillment of the stated objective.

Juanka: I would like to say that in this case, it is like a difficult question. Because we know that the internet has no limits, but to maintain a neighborhood focus on our online engagement is very difficult.

It is very difficult because nowadays we all know that a lot of our children and a lot of people are being educated or are spending a lot of time on the social media. And it has become a competition and a very difficult mission to make your content relevant—especially having a conversation about the church and about Christ.

And yes, the internet has no limits, but as Diego and Yenny were saying, it is very difficult not to have a very personal approach. And now, how do you connect with people online? How do you engage with those that are, for example, in a hospital bed, in a hospital room, or they just cannot go on a Sunday?

And it’s just to prepare the topics, to pray to God, and to just send invitations on the social media and hope to build community—an online community that is going to be, maybe not that close, maybe not having that personal contact that we are used to, face to face, but God can use whatever way, different ways to talk and to reach a heart.

And so, we believe that it is important that we continue with the internet mission, although never risking and never jeopardizing our presential meetings.

Cara: And I like what you all say that—what it sounds like to me is almost that, how you show up in the online presence is important because even with no limits, it’s: are you showing up personally? Are you showing up relationally? Are you showing up in a Christlike manner and creating that kind of Christlike community in that space? Yeah, I think that’s an important thing to think about.

And like you said, Juanka, it’s a hard question to think about because the internet is different. It does have no limits. And so, I think it’s something that we wrestle with. But like you said, we pursue it without jeopardizing, but we don’t neglect it either.

And so, on a practical level, I’m wondering, can you share what online platforms do you use to engage?

Diego: Thank you. In the church, we have an online platform at Zoom, Facebook, website, TikTok, Instagram. In these channels, we invite our [members] to participate in the love of God.

Cara: Yes. Church TikTok. Okay. I love it.

Juanka: Yes. So, Zoom basically is used for every meeting, right? So, regarding the middle of the week, Wednesdays Bible studies, Zoom is one is 100% virtual. Regarding the ministry meetings—couples, men, women, youth, and servers, even sometimes the worship team, is also Zoom 100% on Saturdays. We use Zoom also (you know about this possibly) on Sundays for our Sunday services. We have one at 8:30 and the other one is at 10:30. And both of them are very important because 50+ % of the attendance are on Zoom.

And okay, that’s everything regarding Zoom. So, for example, all the ministry, the praying ministry and people that gather to pray on Saturday mornings is also on Zoom. It’s 100% virtual and this changed due to the pandemic situation.

And then we have Facebook. Facebook is our platform in which we share all the invitation to our meetings and whatever’s going to happen during the week or during the month. And so, Facebook is that platform. It is very similar to Instagram, both of those platforms. We use them for, just making a little bit of noise of whatever is going to happen and to invite people.

We also have the website. The website is very important because we have the Equipper and some translations that we have been working on. And many leaders can get the information, the translated information from our pastors in Grace Communion International. So that’s very important.

Another platform that we use a lot is YouTube. We have noticed that a group of 70 plus people every Sunday is very aware of our sermons and our content. So, there’s like an online church that doesn’t go, that doesn’t attend or connect on Zoom on Sundays. Yeah. But during the week or during different times, they watch the YouTube videos, especially the sermons. So, we know that there are some people that maybe possibly they’re working on Sundays, or they have a different schedule.

And yes, finally, TikTok. One year ago, we opened an account. We started uploading Bible verses. And it’s talking about Jesus more than any other thing. But I think that we have to develop a plan, because TikTok is a difficult platform. By this, I mean that there are a lot of people creating a lot of content and so how are you going to compete with that? But we’re kind of doing that. And yes.

Cara: Yeah. I love the diversity of the platforms that you’re using and that each has a particular purpose, like you said, these are the ways this platform is used.

This is the way this platform’s used and even, oh, we’re using TikTok, but we want to think about how do we be more thoughtful? How do we be more strategic because of how this particular platform works or is built or how other people use it? I think that’s an incredible example to think about.

I think our churches all around the world can wrestle through, What does that look like for us? What platforms are a meaningful platform for us to engage with in our context and why? How will we use it? What will its purpose be? And not just to do things to do things, but what specifically? Why will we use this? What will its purpose be?

And I think what I love about the diversity of the platforms that you use too, is it comes back for me to that question from the beginning of our conversation: what if the main purpose of church online is not to bring people to you, but for you to bring the gospel to where people are at.

You’ve said this, people are online in all these different places and like you said, there’ll be people who don’t come to the Sunday worship service but can still connect through the YouTube channel. And that can be part of mission and connection that maybe grows into something different. Or TikTok, right? Yeah. People are on TikTok. Yeah. And so, when we think about mission, don’t we go where the people go? Yeah. That’s beautiful.

Juanka: Maybe the dangers of, specifically talking about TikTok, is that you can get swayed by a lot of information that is irrelevant or is just not good, and so I’ve learned to educate TikTok to what I want to actually see. So, there’s like an option that you kind of get an option of “not interested, not interested, not interested”, and just letting the algorithm work. Because you can get a little bit (how do you say this?) obsessed over many things and Reddit stories and oh my God, it’s crazy. But yeah, if you educate TikTok—I call it that, educating TikTok. You can get the content that you want. If you only want content relating, for example, to Christian content, you can do that. You can do that, and the algorithm works.

So, it’s just a matter of choice of your decision.

Cara: Yeah. And that brings up a really important question that’s a little beyond what we’re talking about today, but I think it’s really important for our churches to wrestle with, Juanka. There’s this question in a Love Avenue, how do we engage online platforms?

But then also, how do these online platforms form us as the church and as followers? And so, I thank you for mentioning that, because these different platforms can be formational to us, and if we’re intentional about that, that can be a good thing. Exactly. So, I like that idea of educating TikTok and being intentional.

Juanka: Yes. I say this because I have a lot of friends that they’re Christian and they don’t want anything to do with Instagram or Facebook or TikTok because of the type of content. I understand that is sometimes difficult. The content—you feel that it is like an attack, but as I mentioned before, you can decide. You have to do it, by the way, otherwise the system is going to throw at you whatever. And it is something that you have to do intentionally.

Cara: Yeah. I think about that too. When we think about mission, in general, but then online mission specifically, that’s preparation that we need to think about that’s maybe different. Yeah, that’s a really good word, Juanka.

Thank you for mentioning that; it’s something to think about. How do we prepare ourselves to engage missionally online? And maybe that’s part of our intentionality that we think about educating our algorithms. And so that really connects well to this next question that I have for you all.

What best practices have you found with online engagement? Or things that you’ve tried that haven’t worked out so well?

Yenny: [Spanish]

Diego: Yes, Cara, Yenny says that how best practice have been found opening again in spaces to meet personally and to which we invited new people to share the love of God: sermon invitations by Facebook and Instagram, Wednesday Bible started by some and youth meeting on Saturday. However, it’s over.

Juanka: So, let me explain. The sermons as I was saying before we always invite people on Facebook and Instagram, and that has been very, very successful. Once or twice a month, some brothers and sisters in Latin America, from Peru, from El Salvador, Honduras and also Barranquilla. They connect to our services online.

And so, we have a lot of people connected on Zoom, more than the people that are attending the church physically. And so that’s one of the best practices or on Sundays.

And also on Wednesdays, I think it’s a very strong habit of our members to meet on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. for a Bible study on Zoom. And those two have been the strongest.

And regarding the youth meetings and the couple meetings, all of those meetings that are regarding the ministries, we have been developing a plan to just make them face to face again. In the case of the young people, the youth they gotten bored and there was a point of what are we doing gathering on Saturday? Let’s go out and do something. Let’s play ping pong at the church or something different. And so that’s why it was over. And so, we’re working on different plans to just gather the youth.

And I know that, for example, in the Love Avenue, Diego and Yenny had been working in something that we call the Chocolatada just to drink chocolate with bread. And that has been very successful and we’re doing this once a month. And so, it has been very successful because we gather, we talk about the gospel. We talk about the mission, especially the Love Avenue mission, and that has been very successful. So, we are making a lot of plans with that. And yeah, so that’s one of the things that didn’t work, the youth meetings and some ministries that really need to gather face to face. Well, I don’t know—that has been our experience.

Cara: Yes. And I think that discernment and response and flexibility is so important that you displayed locally to say, this online engagement is not working long term for the young people. Maybe it only works for reminders about what’s happening, but for gatherings, they really want to be in-person.

I think in every church context that the discernment will be important, because how God is working in each context will need to be discerned. And that includes how God might be working through online engagement and these different platforms and in terms of those best practices.

Yeah. I love the making of the invitations has been really successful for you guys. If we’re spending all our time on the internet so frequently, that’s a helpful way in format to be reminding about what is happening in the life of the church or to be connecting with people, inviting people in to participate in that.

And monthly chocolate? Yeah! Amen.

Any other best practices or things that you’ve tried that haven’t worked out so well that you want to share?

Juanka: We noticed that some TikTok posts were over 500 views, and it was because TikTok has this highlighted song.

But we tend to look for something Christian. If you have a TikTok and you want to develop an audience, like a Christian audience or someone that wants to have a TikTok and wants to do a mission, you can use TikTok as very powerful.

Like today, TikTok is the best, the most powerful platform to reach out to young people and everybody. You can just study the guidelines. Then put a very good song that is relevant and is highlighted by TikTok and write a Bible verse or a short message about the Bible, or about a story about the Bible or about Jesus’ life. And it will be really relevant, and you don’t need to be famous or anything. It’s just the algorithm again.

Cara: Yeah. And I want to touch on what you say about using one of the songs that is highlighted instead of maybe just a very niche Christian song or something like that, because I think that’s an important part of mission.

And if we think of online engagement and use of social media platforms as part of our witness in the Love Avenue, part of that is speaking the language of the community, of the people, of connecting with people where they are.

And so, to use one of the songs that is trending on TikTok, to connect with people where they are, to let the TikTok trend more than if it was a song that nobody knows. Yeah. I think let’s be thoughtful about how we reach out to people, how we’re missional. Yes. That’s a really good point.

And so, I’m wondering what does—because it sounds like you’ve mentioned a lot of different ways that you’re using these online platforms and they actually connect with all three of the Avenues Faith, Hope, and Love—what does collaboration between the Avenues look like with your online engagement in Bogota?

Diego: There is collaboration between the champions and commitment. However, the use of technology is very personal since there are circumstances in which people, despite being connected online, are easily distracted by what is happening around them or executing other activities while listening to the internet, losing concentration, which does not allow readily and effect interpretation.

Fifty percent of the people who are attending services are connected by Zoom in each service. As Juanka mentioned it, sometimes [people] from Latin America, El Salvador, Honduras, Barranquilla, Peru are connected. So, it is important to continue giving the option of virtual connection since many find foot hold in the meetings.

Juanka: Yes, although I agree that can be very impersonal, right? Because this is a debate—a very huge debate because the families nowadays, they want to go to the park, for example, on Sundays; some of them, they work on Sundays. Church is still important for them, but because of this option, they just want to go and test it out maybe, or just do something else while listening to the sermon.

And this reminds me of a book by Gary Chapman by The Five Love Languages. And one quote that I remember is that when you are paying attention to someone, really 100%, you’re not playing with your cell phone. You’re not playing with your cat. You’re not doing anything else but paying attention to what the person is saying.

And this is one of the, I don’t know, possibly the downsides of the internet that you can be in a meeting, but you can also be reading a book or just watching a video on your cell phone while being a meeting or just cooking breakfast. Yeah. I’m not saying it is bad. I’m just saying that our brains do not multitask, and I’ve read a lot of articles about this. Our brain does only one task efficiently. And so, the dangers of always connected on Zoom is that possibly you’re not going to be 100% connected.

So, we do think that is better to be interacting face to face, however, with all this conversation about the media and about the internet, we do our effort and our stats regarding the sermons. The time of the sermon has decreased a little bit. With longer sermons, people seem to be turned off somehow. But maybe with a shorter message, more cut to the chase. Or you have to be like an incredible theologian, or something like that, for people to be like really connected with you.

It is a collaboration between the three Avenues that, as you said, because it requires, the Love Avenue, the Faith Avenue, and the Hope Avenue to be together in all the parts of the church and all the activities. But yeah, it is always a challenge.

And I think that is something that is going to be the new church. The new church has to be online and also face to face. It’s just a fact now.

Cara: And with that collaboration, I think what I’m hearing is happening in Bogota, is online you have the presence of that Faith, Hope, and Love Avenue elements of the ministry of a healthy church. And so, people are able to engage in a really holistic experience of the church, at least in some way, as they engage online.

And it’s not just because, like you said, it’s a hot topic right now in the church. Should we do online services? Should we do this? How much should we engage online? But I think with this collaboration what I find hopeful in what you’re sharing with having the hybrid worship services and the connect groups and the element of mission, is that it’s not just a consumerism with your online engagement.

It’s not just putting out material for people to just take and watch but you’re engaging online in a way where people can more participate and actually build that community. And being thoughtful about what are ways that even though maybe it can be tempting to be a little bit more impersonal online. How do we make it as personal as possible? How do we bring that intentionality to community like Yenny was saying earlier? It’s to intentionally bring together that sense of community.

And so, I think that collaboration can be really important. Because like you said, I think this is just where we are. The church is moving forward—it just might be in person and online. And so how do we be the church online and really the church as God would be leading us to be.

And so that connects with one of these last questions that I have for you all. How do you distinguish in practice between online presence just as simply a social media and online presence as really mission and ministry? The difference just between, oh, we just have a Facebook page or online presence as no, we’re being the church together.

Diego: Okay. The online presence as a means of social communications, allow us to establish in that quick and digital communication with [unintelligible] but impersonal. The online presence as a mission, is a ministry allows to us to train ourselves to later plan and organize what we intend to carry out.

However, the need for people to have face-to-face interaction when executing what is a plan that is of service, some people have asked for prayer and counseling online where it can sometimes be a very private moment where typical and complex issues are discusses, but technology gives to this option and we believe that it’s important to continue giving the virtual option always.

Juanka: Yes. So, we have been in contact with some people that are not actually members of our church, but they want prayers for their sons or they’re in a difficult situation. And they ask for advice for counseling. And yeah, although most of the times it is not like a very personal and very private conversation, it can actually develop into that. If the person is looking for advice or counseling or just to have a conversation.

And so, our greatest source of those conversations—that can be very private, and God send people for us to pray for them and to counsel—is the website in which a lot of people write to us asking for help and for prayers.

And also on Zoom, we have some very personal time, especially with praying ministry, which is always praying for all the things that hurt, all the people that are sick. And so, I will say that it’s never like in face to face but you can reach a level of privacy and just to reach out to those that are hurting and just try to help in the best possible way using the technology.

This is the online presence we are talking about. An online presence. People know that you’re there; people know that you usually respond and that’s the mission right now, also of the church. Because all those people, they’re not going to look (sometimes) for face-to-face interaction. They’re just want to reach out to someone, to hear a voice that is not a robot that understands, that hears their hurt. And so that’s also the mission of the church nowadays.

Cara: Yeah. And that idea of just being present and responsive. And I think that the idea too, is the internet is just a tool. And so, as the church, how do we use it? Are we using it just to be trendy, and just say, oh, look at us; we have social media, we can be flashy and have all the new and improved things?

Are we using it to participate in the ministry of Jesus to be the church, like you said, to show up in a Christlike presence or kind of way? How are we using this tool that is available to us in our day and age?

Juanka: And Cara, I just want to mention something. On TikTok, I saw once a pastor, she was praying for people, and then this group of pranksters, man, they came into the conversation, and they started asking prayers for Goku, for Peter Parker, for a bunch of people that are just the movie characters.

Yes. And she didn’t know, oh no, my God. And so, she started praying for Peter Parker for all of these characters of the Marvel universe and stuff. And so, people made a funny joke about all of this.

And so also to say that you have to be very careful because, maybe you can gather up in a face-to-face conversation at church. And that’s going to be like a private space, but whatever you do on the internet is going to be always open to the public. And we have to be wise. This is just that. You have to be wise. We have to be prepared for people sometimes to be bullies or something like that.

And so, this pastor had a good intention in doing that, but it actually created a lot of memes and a lot of, she’s a joke and stuff like that. So, we also have to be very careful with internet and also YouTube. There’s a lot of people that—I don’t know if they have a lot of free time, but they just navigate internet looking “oh, I can damage this or I can do some damage to this meeting; let’s do it.” I don’t know why but be wise.

Cara: Yeah, that’s a really important word that you shared, Juanka, to be wise in our online presence and engagement because it is a new kind of tool, and a new kind of space for the church to engage. And so, we have to become familiar with it and to understand it and to understand maybe some of the ways that it’s different than the in-person spaces that we gather.

And like you said, two great examples right there: Security measures are different online than in person. And so, what does that mean for us to be thoughtful about that? As thoughtful about that as we are with maybe our in-person gatherings. And then also: mistakes that we make online live forever, but mistakes that happen in person they’re just done when they’re done. And yeah, this is a new thing.

And so how do we understand it as we operate through wisdom and discernment is a really good word because we don’t want to be reckless with the tools that are available to us. And along those lines, what final words do you have to share with our listeners maybe as they think about how they may be engaging online in their local church context?

Diego: Okay, Cara. So, in the Avenue of Love, we are directly witness of what the Lord our God has done in our lives and of what we have experienced living in Christ, which makes us feel that desire to share about Jesus with others, with our people, driven by the love of Christ.

Several people have asked for help through the network. And we have discussed private things with them since virtuality gives a sense of security and easily excuse any kind of issues.

We are more a virtual church than a face-to-face church in this time. And God has allowed the use of network for this work; this is why we have developed the website; we have the Facebook and Instagram for the news and invitations. We have the TikTok to reach young people today.

The church is reaching more by virtuality than by face to face. That was the results of the pandemic. The [unintelligible] that is a great helper to the pastor, this help to the pastor is always sent by email and can be found on the [web] page of the church. And that is basically a where virtual or face to face will be continued together, hand in hand with our Father, reaching people and talking about the gospel.

Juanka: And I would like to compliment all of these words with the idea of your identity in Christ, who are you and what are you doing on the internet? Because you can be one person like superficially with others and you can have your job and normal life.

But you are also the person that goes into the internet and whatever you do, God is there. And he’s the only one that knows your heart. And so, thing is that the internet has this idea or this kind of like image that you can do whatever you want, because nobody’s watching you.

But it’s the opposite. A lot of people can actually know or, all the registering, the IP addresses that you visit. And so, the final question is who are you? And what do you want to do with all this information that you have available?

And obviously just now going to the Avenues, regarding the church is: what is our mission in Christ’s plan? Using the technology and the internet for just spreading the gospel and counseling others, and just speaking the truth and not maybe with an aggressive tone, but maybe with a conciliatory one with humbleness and just not creating fights but maybe just make people ponder about the ways and the beliefs.

So, it is very hard. It is a very important mission. And not everybody, I think is prepared to do that, but nobody’s perfect. But God, is on our side, he’s going to help us. The Holy Spirit is going to guide us. And hopefully, we’ll do a good job in our social media.

Cara: Yeah. And Diego, Juanka, in what you both said, what I heard is let God be glorified in this technology. Let him be glorified in the way that it’s used in the way we move through the world with it. Diego said, that’s why we have it! Let him be glorified.

Thank you so much for sharing that with us and my prayer is that we would wrestle through these challenging questions, the way that you have been together, locally in Bogota, as we figure out how do we glorify God through our use of technology and online presence and social media and all of these things that are part of what it means to be the church in this time, in this age.

And so, I thank you all so much for sharing with us today. A little bit about what God is doing in your midst. It’s been a great encouragement. So, before you go, I have a little bit of fun for you. I just got a few fun questions that any, or all of you can answer. And I’d love to see just, the first thought that comes to mind.

So, the first question, if y’all are ready, is what is your favorite movie genre to watch?

Yenny: [Spanish]

Juanka: Yenny likes Lifetime movies.

Diego: [Spanish]

Juanka: Okay. So, Diego likes more historical movies. He thinks that one of the best movies, historically speaking, is Schindler’s List.

Cara: Yeah. Okay. Okay.

Juanka: And myself. Yes. I love all of those movies Star Wars and all of that genre of movies. That is like crazy.

Cara: I agree. I agree. All right. Next question. When you are alone in the car, what volume is your music at?

Yenny: [Spanish]

Juanka: So that depends when we are traveling, we have a high volume, music out loud and having a fun time. But during the time in the city, working and stuff like that is, is moderate.

And I couldn’t respond, answer that question because I don’t have a car.

Cara: Fair enough. Fair enough. But when you’re just listening to music, are you bumping it loud or is it nice and calm?

Juanka: No, to be honest I am the opposite of a neighbor that we have. The neighbor likes to put like a really out loud music. And I don’t like that. I don’t like that. Whenever I play some music, it is really, not that noisy. It’s just to appreciate. Okay.

Cara: Okay. so not like a club, just all for yourself. Fair enough. Fair enough. And then last question. What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

Diego: [Spanish]

Juanka: Okay. So, Diego’s perspective. Oh, Diego’s best advice is that it was a result of the pandemic situation and is to wait on God, just wait.

Yenny: [Spanish]

Juanka: To wait with patience and to trust God, which is, basically to wait on God, because she was explaining that they tried everything in vitro virtualization and didn’t work medically. It was not possible for them to have a child. And so, they were reaching out to several things, possibilities, but nothing worked.

And they pray to God, and they were in the adoption process, and everything was good and one month or two months before that suddenly, God answered their prayers, and they were pregnant and it was an incredible miracle. She first thought that she was sick.

And so, she was so sick that she went to the doctor to see what was up and turns out that she was pregnant. And there was a lot of crying, but some of thankful. It’s just, they’re just saying this: Wait on God.

Cara: Yeah. Amen. Thank you.

Diego and Yenny for sharing that’s a good piece of advice. And Juanka, what about you? The best piece of advice you’ve ever been given.

Juanka: Oh my God. I don’t know. That really depends on the context and because there are many things in life and so there are many good advice, right? Currently I will say that the best advice that I read on the internet is “happy wife, happy life.” Yeah, but you know what that is? That is not as important as Yenny and Diego’s quote, which is wait on God. I think that’s the killer today.

Cara: Yes. Absolutely. yeah. I am so thankful for all three of you for taking the time to join us today on the podcast and for sharing your words of wisdom and advice, and that outgoing piece of advice: wait on God.

So, thank you for sharing your insights with us today. It is our practice with GC Podcast to end the show with prayer. And Yenny, would you be willing to pray for us to close out this episode of GC Podcast?

Yenny: [Spanish]

[English translation] You are a missionary God, and you have called us so that we can go and make disciples in all nations. You are the God of love that changed and transformed our lives because of your love. You encourage us to share the gospel with others; let our hearts be full with a desire to bring disciples to you. Allow us to share with others what we have lived and experienced with you.

You are a faithful God; your promise is that you will always be with us and that you will never forsake us. And that’s our consolation and our strength, because if we hold your hand, we will be safe. We thank you, Holy father. And we ask you to give us strength so that in our mission regarding the Love Avenue, we are able to carry out your missionary purpose of taking your word to others and serving others. Amen.


Cara: I really appreciated Juanka’s comment that the purpose of online engagement is the same as that of in person church. And it actually makes me think about what you said. It has to be an extension of what’s happening in real life, too. What’s happening in the online world or in the physical world.

And so, I think that is part of how we can continue to discern and distinguish between online presence, just as fun social media or something like that. And then online presence as mission and ministry. And so, keeping in mind how our online engagement lives out the purpose of the church and expresses healthy church really stood out to me in what they had to share.

What stood out to you, Jamie?

Jamie: To me actually, Juanka’s comment also resonated with me, Cara, same with yours. But apart from that, I love his explanation about the platform roles. He explained about Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. I wasn’t expecting to hear him talk about TikTok. I’m amazed learning their intentions to engage the young people through whatever platform that will resonate with them. So, I loved that part.

Cara: Yes, absolutely. I liked that too. Church TikTok’s for the win. Yes. Oh, thank you so much for joining us today, Jamie, and sharing your reflections with us.

Before you go, could you tell us a little bit more about the GCI curriculum “On Being In and With the Word”?

Jamie: Sure. “On Being In and With the Word” is a seven-week series that focuses on the Bible and a method of studying scripture. It is the last curriculum to be released for the On Being series. All the curricula in the series can be found here on our website at resources.gci.org/on-being

Cara: Thank you so much, Jamie. Folks, we really appreciate you listening to the GC Podcast.

And if you like what you heard, go on ahead and give us a rating wherever you listen to this podcast. It helps us get out the word and for others to join in on the conversation. And until next time, keep on living and share in the gospel.

We want to thank you for listening to this episode of the GC Podcast. We hope you have found value in it to become a healthier leader. We would love to hear from you. If you have a suggestion on a topic, or if there is someone who you think we should interview, email us at info@gci.org. Remember, healthy churches start with healthy leaders; invest in yourself and your leaders.

 

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