Church Leaders Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Social Media

Original source article located here: released a post about pastors and social media.  In this post, the question is raised concerning interaction between pastors and church members online.

I think that avoidance of these virtual relationships is impossible and ill-advised.  I think that we ignore social media at our own risk!

In October of 2010, Mashable reported that the average teen texts 3,339 times a month.  Beyond teens, the average 18-24 year-old in the same report texts 1,630 times a month.  In January of 2010, Nielsen reported that the average person is on Facebook approximately 7 hours a month.  In January of 2011, Pew Research found that more Internet users than non-Internet users are inclined to belong to social groups and organizations.  So, the old story that people online are less likely to engage in outside social activities is not true.  So, based on these few reports alone, it seems that if the church universal wants to remain a driving force today then we must engage!

Joel Diaz, a youth minister, says that social media is very important in keeping in contact with his student members.  “And, you can quote me on that,” Joel added.

Bryan Haynes said, “social media is the most efficient and expedient means of external communication with our students.”

By the way, I got both of these comments from them through Twitter.

Dashhouse offers some good questions to consider concerning your online relationships.  I have included them here along with some of my own thoughts.

  • When interacting with members electronically am I using electronic communication and social media to enhance their life or to satisfy a personal need?  Good question.
  • What are my reasons for sharing this information with a congregant – are they professional or are they personal?
  • Is this picture or comment something I would be comfortable with my members, their parents/guardians, my supervisor, my family or the media seeing?
  • Would my peers or supervisors consider what I have posted as reasonable and professional?
  • Would I communicate this way in my community?
  • Are the photos, videos or audio recordings I am posting susceptible to misrepresentation or manipulation?  These days Photoshop manipulates all.  The most innocent pictures can be twisted.
  • Am I keeping current in my awareness and knowledge of social media technology developments to protect myself from misuse?  Here we go!  This is #1 in my book!

Based on these questions and some other work, I want to propose the following five steps to consider in online interactions.  And, then all start with “tr” for your mnemonic benefit!

  1. TRAINING – you need to know what is going on!  You need to know what the difference in cc and bcc, post and tweet, rss subscriptions vs. email subscriptions, viral (good) and virus (bad), which kind of cookies to eat, “what my lawyer means by DRM”, etc.  A good place to start is Tech Terms and NetLingo.
  2. TRUTH – just because someone types it, it doesn’t make it true!  When you find information online can it be cross-referenced in other studies and is it a reputable company.  In the earlier part of this post I quoted from Mashable, Nielsen, and Pew Research.  All three of these sources are well-known and are heavily used to authenticate.
  3. TRUST – or I should say things you can trust to happen!  If it is “out there” someone will find it.  There is no such thing as completely deletable.  Privacy settings are like locks on doors.  They are only for honest people!  Code-blocking, IP-masking, private browsers, DNS-redirects will keep out the honest people.  But, a good hacker can work through all of that!  A random Google search can bring many things to light!  If you do not trust any of these, trust this!  If you do not want everyone on the internet to see something, do not put it on the internet!
  4. TRANSPARENCY – does it matter who sees what you are posting?  People online need a huge dose of WWJP (What Would Jesus Post)!  Is this picture or comment something I would be comfortable with my members,  parents/guardians, my supervisor, my family or the media seeing?  Is it true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8 NLT)?  Notice here that Scripture says “and” and not “or”.  It needs to be all of those things, not just best 3 out of 6!
  5. TRIUMPH – the world needs “tweeters” for Jesus.  We need Facebook to love someone across the country who has lost a family member!  We need Scripture posted from here to eternity on every social media available.  Not used in condemnation, but in encouragement!  The Bible is the sword of the Spirit.  It is used against evil spirits not evil people!  Share your struggles, don’t post your criticisms!

The following video was published in 2009.  As of May 8, 2011, it has had 2,762,983 views.  Imagine what today’s numbers would reflect!

Here are some of my thoughts, comment with some of yours!

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 responses to “Church Leaders Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Social Media”

  1. You hit the target dead center! We ignore social media to our demise. We need to embrace it as a way to reach those who need Jesus. We can’t be afraid of it no more than Booth could resist music or the early church fear the printing press – could you imagine where we’d be if the church didn’t have music or the printed Word?

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on church and social media, and alliterating with not just 1 letter, but 2! 🙂 An apt word choice in the title, “afford,” and yet, how much of a church’s budget $$ is being spent on social media? Time, people, and dollars are a pretty telling indicator of what a church is affording.

    • I think wisely utilizing social media to benefit the life of the church member is important, but like any other tool, this should not be more important than the message or the mission of the church.

      Thank you for your comments!

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