The New York Times today posted an article about how young people are turning away from using blogs. They instead are using Facebook and Twitter to post their messages. I find the “moving target” of using social media to be a challenge. Already, for example, what I have typed is “too long” for a Twitter post.
As a minister in Christ’s Church, figuring out how to use social media is key to the future. Some of it offers real joy. But the challenge abound.
a. While this blog has been successful (in two years, over 2500 posts have been read), I doubt it has gotten anyone actually out to come to our church. On the positive side, hopefully it has made many thoughtful about their faith in the context of their lives as well as key issues before us all. But on the other side, a central function of the church (and its pastor) is to call folks into community. I am not sure my blog (or any blog) does this beyond the virtual world.
b. Social media allows the larger Church to connect in ways it never has really been able to before. I honestly can say I am sharing ideas, and learning from, Christians in more venues of ministry than ever before. On the other side of the coin, it does not appear that a majority of our congregation actively participates in blogs, Facebook, or Twitter. Some do faithfully but most do not. I suspect the same would be true of most Presbyterians.
c. Anyone’s, myself included, list of friends on Facebook and Twitter is a hodgepodge of friendships, colleagues (current and former), family members, and contacts collected over a lifetime. These folks live all over the country. They probably come from a variety of faith backgrounds (and even no faith background). This allows us all to bring up matters of faith in the “public square.” But, on the other side of the coin, our message is mixed in with the latest video clips of sports games, reality shows, jokes, Farmville postings, and everything else that draws attention these days.
d. Young people increasingly “live on their cell phone.” This means they Twitter and Facebook, not off a desktop (or even a notebook) when they have the time, but on the go as they are moving between work or classes. It’s a great way to make connections. But, then again, they will never read anything long. Writers only have so much time (and words) to make your point.
e. There seems to be little to no connection between social media participation and giving to the church (or to charities). Unless we find a way to make that connection, both the church and its current and future parishioners are in trouble. Christ taught us we are blessed when we give. That hasn’t changed even if our means and methods of communicating constantly do change.
f. A key part of any worship experience is music. Yet, while I find many sermons posted (and some really great ones shared by .mp3 and .avi) , I rarely see churches posting presentations by choirs or praise teams. I think this, as much as anything else, might encourage folks to come and see what they are missing.
g. I believe we need to find a way to help connect prayer and social media. There is great power in prayer. Some church web sites and even Facebook pages encourage prayers. But, like with music, this is the exception, not the norm.
What are your thoughts on blogs, Facebook, and/or Twitter. Or do you use one of the other sites? Let’s talk.
Until next time,