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Social Media Missions: What Bethel Church Is Doing to Prepare a Generation of ‘Digital Missionaries’

Seven in 10 Americans use social media, which means whoever creates all those posts and the programs behind them has enormous power and influence. It’s why California’s Bethel Church has created the Bethel School of Technology.

The school offers a 33-week online “faith-based boot camp” aimed at working IT professionals who want to combine technical training and spiritual growth to bring both excellent workplace skills and biblical values to leading social media companies.

Bethel pastor and School of Technology founder Kris Vallotton told CBN News that Bethel wants believers to help shape the way the culture thinks.
“We started thinking, ‘How do we actually shift the mindset of communities? And how do we shift the mindset of society?'” said Vallotton. “You can create new laws, you can put people in political places, but if you don’t change the way people think you’re not going to change culture.”

The cultural shift toward digital media has come rapidly. In 2005, the Pew Research Center first measured social media adoption and found that just 5 percent of American adults used at least one platform. That number jumped to over 50 percent in 2011, and today more than two-thirds of the public uses some type of social media.

Facebook is still the most widely used, but Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn are also big.

Vallotton considers these platforms and the world of information technology to be the new mission field. “We got this idea–what if we raise up digital missionaries and what if we sent them like we send people to Africa and India–some of these dark places,” he said. “What would happen if the darkest places on the planet–they’re not geographic areas–they’re actually social groups?”

CEO Ryan Collins told CBN News the school will capitalize on growing demand for computer and information technology workers. The Department of Labor predicts the fast-growing field will add more than half a million jobs by 2026.

“We really want to equip kingdom-minded believers with the most in-demand tech skills,” said Collins. 

He also believes the faith curriculum will provide added-value for employers. “These are the same types of core values that companies are investing millions of dollars in to improve their workplace,” he said.

The school started in September of 2017 and is partnering with other faith-based schools like Oral Roberts University. 


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