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Pastor brings gospel to Instagram – one verse at a time

Instagram mission: Richard Martin, pastor at the Devonshire Seventh-day Adventist Church (Photograph supplied)

​​Pastor, author and Christian content creator Richard D. Martin shares the gospel one verse at a time on his Instagram platform with his 90-second series, One Verse Thursdays.

The Covid-19 pandemic allowed many to explore different avenues of their passions and talents and provided the time to dabble in new ways of doing them.

Digital ministry was an aspect that Dr Martin had always envisioned as being a part of his ministry journey, and the pandemic provided him the opportunity to get started.

“My motivation happened in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. “The gathered iteration of the church, people coming together, was disrupted, and the church became scattered. People were in their homes, and they relocated and set up shops in different states, so I wanted to find a way to maintain some meaningful spiritual connection.

“I was using Instagram, but I used it more as a consumer. It became an opportunity to reach my church members and my peer group. I also knew that in addition to Covid-19, a shift was already taking place regarding regular church attendance.”

Dr Martin added: “I began to see a lot of questions about spiritual things and themes of faith. I said, ‘I wonder if going live on Instagram ten minutes a week would be something to try’. As brief as that sounds, just one day a week, not a Saturday or Sunday, which are common church attendance days. It would be a source of inspiration.

“I shared the idea with my wife, and I was hesitant. I admit I allowed it to mull over in my mind for a while. Finally, she said, ‘Do you remember that idea you had? Are you going to pursue it?’ So I chose a date where I set up my camera on a tripod, pressed live on Instagram, and charted out its vision with those tuned in.”

It was not until the start of 2023, when Dr Martin and his wife relocated to Bermuda, that the transition from long-form content to the short-form devotional experience people can enjoy now occurred.

Inspired by fellow content creators and the beauty of Bermuda, Dr Martin began to share his condensed version of One Verse Thursdays.

Dr Martin said: “When 2023 began, on Thursday, I hit it, 90-second videos. It started to grow in terms of its popularity but also the impact, people were engaging with it.

“The format I used originally in 2020 is the same format that governed the short-form approach you see now, based on my belief that one verse of scripture can change your attitude, your day, your heart, and your life.

“That's been the through-line since 2020, whether long-form or short-form. So, it started as a passage, a principle, and a prayer. Now it is a passage, principle, and then send people off.”

He added: “When it became shorter, it was accidental. I was trying things. I like the time efficiency of it. I was able to record, edit, and post in a quick way that didn’t bind me to my seat.

“And then, you know this: Bermuda is beautiful, and I wanted to go and get content by the water, on the beach. I want people to see this beautiful environment as another magnet to sit and listen to what I am saying.”

How people engage with his content is something Dr Martin bears in mind when creating. “Specifically using social media platforms, I think there are some people on the other side of their phones who aren’t attending my church, who aren’t attending church in general.

“I think my call as a pastor is not just to my local congregation but to those faces and families I see regularly. Please believe that I am called to lead them in service, but also personally, as a man and a Christian believer, I want to offer and extend the hope that I’ve come to believe that anchors me with other people, wherever they are.

“There are people who want to read the Bible, who want to grow in their life of faith, have questions about God, but maybe don’t know where to begin, and may not begin by coming to a church.

“But if they see a video that, by God’s grace, looks halfway decent, sounds halfway decent, and is portable content, like 'I caught that, I got the message and am moving on with my day’, they may circle back and say ‘hey you seem like a person I can ask these questions, so what’s up?’”

The One Verse Thursday series and his social-media ministry are passion projects that pour into Dr Martin equally as he pours out into his content.

With an eye on the future, he said: “To be able to create compelling, engaging, meaningful content with a global perspective on location is my dream. If I could travel the world with a production team, that would be the joy of my life.”

When asked what words of encouragement Dr Martin has for his new Island home community and aspiring fellow Christian content creators, he said: “To our community, I would say, to people, men, women, boys, and girls, God deeply and dearly loves you, and there is hope and growth for you both within and beyond your current season. God has given us everything necessary for life and godliness, so be encouraged. You are the apple of God’s eye and dearly loved.

“To my Christian content creators, the Bible is a treasure chest of life-changing content. I’m dealing with one verse at a time, so my prayer is there’s a lifetime of content to be created and shared that meets people’s needs as they scroll.

“That’s the thing we need to remember, on the other side of what we create is a person in transit, so the Lord can help you speak and reach in a way that captures attention, even if it’s brief, but people catch it and can run with it. A passage, principle, and prayer can go a long way to be just what somebody needs.”

Richard D. Martin serves as the pastor of the Devonshire Seventh-day Adventist Church. To access his One Verse Thursdays series, you can find him on Instagram, TikTok, and X at @pastah_martin. Pastor Martin has authored two books, Grace 101: Heaven’s Healing for Humans Hearts and Ordered Steps: A Guide to Knowing God’s Will for Your Life, which can be accessed on his website, www.richdmartin.com, and on Amazon

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Published June 08, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 10, 2024 at 8:09 am)

Pastor brings gospel to Instagram – one verse at a time

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