In his 1981 book Megatrends, John Naisbitt taught that the more “high tech” a society is, the more “high touch” it must become. 40 years later, this is truer than ever. As I look at ministry in the trenches, I see “high touch” as the most critical ministry skill today.
Let me clarify: I’m not anti-tech. For the church today, your digital platform is as important as your physical building. It’s a utility you must have. As your church building needs a roof, electric, and plumbing, so your ministry needs a digital platform – a website (not from 2003), video worship, social media presence, etc. We need to be in the spaces where people are.
But I don’t think “high tech” is the church’s challenge today. Every church, pastor, and ministry leader is rushing to the digital. The pendulum can swing too far. At the end of the day, the core of ministry has always been “high touch.” This will become more evident in the years to come as people work, learn, and play in front of a screen. With more tech comes a longing for touch, a yearning to be human.
A purely digital world depersonalizes. People are reduced to a number, a client, or a consumer. An account holder, a vote, a faceless speck in a crowd. This is the very antithesis of our relationship with God. He is not virtual. We know who God is from his tangible activity in time and space. The incarnation is the pinnacle. Jesus Christ is the ultimate “high touch" - God invading our space in flesh and bone.
Ministry is a war against depersonalization. No one is insignificant. No one is unnamed. No one is forgotten. They were not simple fishermen. They were Peter, James, and John. They were not forgotten women, but Mary and Martha.
One of my co-workers got a note from someone in our church. “Thank you for making me feel like I matter.” My co-worker made an impact. Not behind a screen or at a desk, but intentionally reaching into someone’s life. Taking initiative. Paying attention. Entering someone’s situation.
“High touch” is the most critical task in the present season. Relational connectedness does not require physical contact. Know someone. Call them by name. Listen to them. Share a word from God, personally applicable to their unique place. Pray with and for them, according to their particular needs. A livestreamed service or ministry email cannot do this.
I’ve been using a scale of contact points, from greatest impact to least. In a world of constant contact, people build buffers against the endless barrage of information. I keep asking, “How can I break through?” Clearly, a face-to-face visit is most effective.
Sitting across a table is more impactful than a tweet. Intimate community is better than a crowd. It's not complicated, but it does take time and energy. Sending a mass email is easier, but ministry has never been about ease or efficiency.
Our God is relational. He has always been “high touch,” from the dust of Adam to the barnyard birth of Jesus. How is your life reflecting the “touch of God”?