Gabe Reynaud Award recipient on digital and relational discipleship
A pastor using Facebook to advocate for children and their families is one of two recipients of Manifest’s most prestigious award this year.
The Gabe Reynaud Award recognises excellence in faithful creativity. It honours the pioneering Seventh-day Adventist filmmaker and is an initiative of an Adventist Church in the South Pacific-led movement exploring, encouraging and celebrating faithful creativity.
Pr Daron Pratt receives the award for his use of Facebook to promote the value of ministering to children and families. He creates content—often posts expressing an opinion that may challenge the denomination or championing children’s ministries creatives and leaders—and curates content—often from outside Adventism. He uses his influence to increase the reach of other’s posts. And he is an early adopter of the social media and social networking service’s new features.
Pratt is the first denominational employee—he is Director of Family and Children’s Ministries for the Adventist Church in northern New South Wales—named as a recipient of the award. Manifest Co-Convenor Brenton Stacey asked about Pratt’s “personal pulpit.”
You are not a digital native but you are social media savvy. What is your Facebook philosophy?
I use Facebook as my personal pulpit. It’s an opportunity to advocate for those needing a voice. People tell me because circumstances in their churches or in their relationships prevent them from saying anything about their situation that what I write online speaks into their personal situations.
Your advocacy for children and families is endearing—you have a loyal following. What do you hope your Facebook friends do with the content you create and curate for them?
I hope the experience of sharing a post or a comment will help empower these people to speak up, particularly about issues of justice, fairness and equality. I hope it gives them hope that someone in administration is speaking their language. And I hope it gives them a broader perspective because I base many of my posts on good research.
Like Gabe Reynaud, you are developing meaningful professional relationships outside the Adventist Church. You say you remain teachable. So, what are you learning about your ministry and your faith from these Christian colleagues?
They’re just like me. We’re experiencing the same challenges, so I’m able to learn from them. By forming relationships with other churches, we as an Adventist Church can influence the national agenda, which can bring about much more change than going it alone. Here’s an example: I’ve just been asked to speak at The Society for Children’s Spirituality Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, next year. I’m humbled and honoured to contribute to an international agenda for children, family and the church.
You’re an artist, a balloon artist. From where do you find your inspiration? And how do you continue to refine your gift?
My mind is always thinking about balloons and how I can use them to tell the story of the gospel. Ideas often come to me at night. In some ways, it feels like divine inspiration. I’ve got to the stage now where I think of an animal or an object and the twists I need to make it just appear in my head.
Children’s ministries and creativity: its seems to be a popular pairing. Why?
Children are more likely to make a decision to follow Jesus before they reach their teenage years. So, those of us in children’s ministries are doing everything we can and using everything we have to make the gospel relevant. If we get it right, we’ll save a lot of time and money when these children become adults. Discipleship is not an event or a program or a formula. It’s investing in children and journeying with them over the long term.