Technology is a bridge Jonathan Perkins uses to connect people to Christ and each other.
“I’ve always liked being on the cutting edge. Once I went into the ministry, I really loved the fusion of being able to use it as a teaching tool and as a communication vehicle,” said Perkins, pastor of The Bridge Church in Baton Rouge and an Apple-certified professional with his own media business.
Perkins, 40, said technology is a point of emphasis for the church, which meets in several places around Baton Rouge, most notably in Coates Hall at LSU. He helped start the church about a year ago after three years on the mission fields of Central America.
“What’s cool about Baton Rouge is it’s the capital and there’s a lot of young families, and there’s a lot of students and they love technology,” he said “So I think it’s an opportunity to connect on that technology level.”
And on a spiritual level.
“One of the things we do with our messages on Sundays is we try to make it very practical,” he said. “We wanted to be a church for people who don’t particularly like church or people that felt disconnected by God in the past. I wanted to be the light and help connect those people. With that mission, we felt we had a real opportunity to start something fresh and new.”
Too many people and even churches speak of the negative aspects of technology and social media, but Perkins stresses the benefits.
“Embrace it; start getting good at it,” he said.
He said that next year for the first time smartphone shipments are expected to top one billion.
“We’re talking about a huge market,” said Perkins, who has an iPad app in the Apple store called Noah 360, an interactive Bible study on the life of the Old Testament figure.
Perkins said he grew up in a “religious household” in Connecticut, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year at the University of Miami that he found a reconnection of sorts with God.
“I sat down with a couple of men who studied the Bible and really taught me about the Jesus I never knew,” he said. “I respected their lives and the way they were helping people so much and their integrity, and it actually inspired me that whatever talents and gifts I had maybe I could use those as well in a very focused and direct way.”
After college in 1996, the business major got a job at a multimillion-dollar company in Miami. That coincided with Perkins’ growth as a team ministry leader at his church.
“I was burning to keep helping (at the church), so by the end of the year, they asked me if I would come on staff at my church, and I resigned from my (corporate) position,” he said.
Perkins later moved to Los Angeles, then, from 2009 to 2012, he and his wife, Karla, became self-supporting missionaries in her native El Salvador.
“Being on the mission field, we saw many things that moved our hearts tremendously, but the church started doing well out there so we felt it was time to come back,” he said.
They returned to be of service to the Baton Rouge community, where Karla was once a student at LSU, Perkins said.
“We’re called The Bridge Church because we wanted to build bridges,” he said. “Even within the Christian community, I’m trying to connect and see if we can bring some unity. … Our motto is we’re trying to connect people to God and one another.”
Perkins said it’s important for the churches to show the love Jesus called for in John 13:34. “Christians really should model who Jesus was in trying to model forgiveness and trying to serve and love people like Jesus did,” he said. “A lot of people have been disillusioned and disenfranchised by Christianity because they really haven’t seen Jesus lived out.”