Pastor Mike Temple of the Grand Forks Church in North Dakota has dedicated a significant portion of his time and talents to reaching hundreds of people in his community and abroad through various communication methods. Hugh Davis recently spoke with Pastor Mike about his 10-year anniversary of producing his daily devotional titled The Open Word.
Tell us how The Open Word began.
In my last district (Bowman, North Dakota) we started a radio program on a couple of different stations. It was a morning weekday devotional called The Open Word. In 2009 my father passed away, and while struggling with the process of grief, the Holy Spirit inspired me to start this as a way of connecting with our listeners in Bowman in an avenue other than radio.
For me, it was about that one-to-one connection with people. And being in a small town, it was a way for me to reach out to the people there. I started emailing it out and it took off. I started with 8 or 9 subscribers, and by the end of the first year I had 40. That is not a lot of subscribers, but people started passing it around and before long I had a couple hundred. Now I have over 500. I have sent out over 3,000 e-devotionals to people’s inboxes every single day since I started.
How do you decide what topics to focus on in your e-devotional?
A lot of it comes from my own devotional life and from what I see on the news that I can make a spiritual parallel or analogy to. I talk about living an honest Christian life—how to be a Christian in the real world. I am intentional about not getting in people’s faces about doctrine; I just want to bring encouragement into their lives, something of a spiritual nature for them to think about in the morning that takes them through their day.
This is your 10th year producing The Open Word. Why do you continue to do it?
I have asked myself that question many times because some days I wonder what I’m going to write about. But I get so many comments from people, and I’ve built so many relationships through this.
I have a subscriber in the Philippines who writes to me two or three times a week, and I try to respond with encouraging messages. I have another subscriber who asks questions about the Bible, and he and I communicate regularly. Now that we have over 500 subscribers, someone writes me daily. I feel like if I stop I would be letting them down.
I have several subscribers who tell me this is the first thing they look at when they wake up. And I have many subscribers who say things like, How could you have known this is exactly what I am going through? I tell them I didn’t. The Holy Spirit did.
The gospel commission challenges us to spread the good news, and this generation has the tools to do it. Do you have any insights or advice about how we can use technology to reach the unreached?
With all the technology we have, the bottom line for me is connecting with people. Technology is great, but when you pull the human component out and it’s just technology for technology’s sake, we miss something. We need to connect with people as much as we can.
I do that with a lot of people in our town—more than people may know. That is really what we have been told to do: go out and build relationships with people. We need to be in our communities. Be present.
Technology can be a two-edged sword; it can be used negatively, but you need to take the positive aspects of technology to use them for the kingdom of God.
We see all the ways people use social media today and we have to be careful how we use these tools so we make sure our witness is something heaven can put its stamp of approval on.
You can subscribe to Pastor Mike’s free e-devotional, The Open Word, by visiting openwordjourney.com. Or visit his website openwordshow.com to listen to his past radio spots and view other inspiring resources.