Discover more from Back Again with Ian Harber
Ministry in the digital age.
I would venture a guess that if you subscribe to this newsletter, the main thing that drew you to it was something adjacent to the topic of faith deconstruction. That’s what I primarily write about here, it’s what my book is about, and it’s how most people found me thanks to my article at The Gospel Coalition. Clearly, I’m passionate about this topic and imagine it will always be part of my life and ministry in some way, shape, or form. As you might imagine though, writing on deconstruction and having a single book that only currently exists as unedited Google docs is not how I make a living in the slightest. (Though I am very thankful for those who have a paid subscription to my newsletter and I’m thinking through ways to make that more valuable to you in the future. Thank you!)
I’ve spent the last 10 years doing digital marketing in different capacities from nonprofits to small businesses to churches, I’ve spent the last decade on the internet spreading messages to people that I believe in, hoping to make people’s lives better. I have a strong conviction that marketing is not a dirty word. It can be—and is—used for great harm, but it isn’t necessarily evil in and of itself. Marketing is a surprising source of insight into the human condition and helps us understand why people do what they do, want what they want, and how to reach people in ways that help meet their needs.
I don’t believe the gospel is a product that needs to be marketed. It’s not something you can buy, it’s only something you can receive. It’s not a tool to improve your life, it’s good news that will transform your life. But I do believe that it’s a message that everyone needs to hear and, sadly, is frequently and loudly distorted on the internet by those who twist it and misrepresent it. We need the gospel to be declared loudly, clearly, contextually, and creatively online. And the principles and tools of digital marketing can be useful to us for this. We can’t adopt them wholesale. We can’t proclaim the gospel in the same way that the world sells a product. But we can subvert the world’s tools to spread the good news the same way Christians always have, from the written letter and the Roman Road to the printing press and the radio before us.
That’s why I joined Endeavor about a year and a half ago. You’ve never heard of Endeavor, but if you’ve listened to Truth Over Tribe, then you’ve been influenced by Endeavor and didn’t even know it. Behind that show is an organization that is working hard (you might say endeavoring) to crack the code of digital ministry. We’ve learned a lot of lessons, are constantly experimenting, and trying to think well about this digital world we live in and how to reach people with the good news of Jesus in ways that can be heard by all kinds of different people.
To that end, I have launched a new newsletter with Endeavor’s co-founder, Patrick Miller, where we will be writing weekly about digital ministry, spiritual formation, and other insights on being a Christian in an online age. We’ll also be inviting friends of ours who are some of the brightest thinkers in this space to write for us and share their insights with you.
I don’t expect this to be everyone who subscribes to this newsletter’s particular cup of tea, but if it is, you can read our very first newsletter that describes more of the heart behind Endeavor here.
From now on, this newsletter will stay in the faith, culture, and deconstruction space while my writing on technology will live at Endeavor. If that is something that interests you, I hope you join us over there.