Social Media and 21st Century Ministry

In the last year I have been following a friend of mine, Pastor Kerry Mackey, in his use of Social Media as a means of community, communication, and commitment to making disciples. Kerry’s site is www.streettotheseat.com. Check it out. Kerry’s an expert at social media and assimilation. I’ve found social media to very gratifying and effective for communicating with younger people especially. There are many social media outlets out there and they can be addicting. So, if you should jump in, be careful not to spend all of your time doing it. However, effective use of these technological mediums can bring great benefits to your ministry and family. Ignoring the power of social media is a mistake. In one sense you don’t have to have it. In another sense, you cannot live without it.

MySpace is for mainly for teenagers. If you want to reach into the world of younger students, this is a must. You will have to setup a free account, but be ready to do some set up work. My advice is for you to set up for a few weeks before actually jumping into the online community. I had a MySpace account, but get rid of it recently. The reason I got rid of it was two-fold. First, I wasn’t keeping up with it. Second, it has some rather appealing adds. They are not pornographic, but are seductive. The adds are at the same level as you TV commercials, so don’t panic. But you will have to make a decision to be careful for the sake of reaching into “their world.” Young people are using MySpace as an alternate community. They either don’t have any real, healthy community, or they want to have a community where their parents are not looking in. If you can get into their community, there’s a respect and interaction that will build confidence and respect. You will want to interact, but not preach or condemn them for what’s on their sites. This will be hard, but it’s worth it. After a while, you will be able to make headway with them.

Facebook is used by young adults. It’s an online community that’s not as seductive, but still has adds that are not what you want on your face book site. Tony Morgan has a great post on why he left face book here. It’s something to consider. One way I’ve benefitted from Facebook is that 90% of my young adult small group  Sunday School class is in the Facebook community. I’ve gotten into their community. It’s allowed me to learn a lot about them and it shows them I care about their world and them as individuals. If you get into Facebook (or MySpace), I suggest if your married, have a page with your spouse. Don’t do it alone. If you’re single, it’s all good.

Twitter is a kind of micro-blogging. I have just begun to use it, but I love it. It’s simple. It can be run through your phone or from your computer. It creates a community based on the question, “What are you doing?” It’s a place where you can communicate ideas and let friends in on what you’re doing through the day. It allows you to follow some people who you may not ever get access to. I’m presently following Ed Stetzer and Dave Furguson. I’m learning a lot from just following their “tweeting.” I’m trying to get my friends to join Twitter. Twitter, like MySpace and Facebook, is free if you have an unlimited text messaging. If you don’t, Twitter is not for you, at least via phone. If you have iPhone, you can use Twitteriffic. It’s pretty cool.

I was slow to acknowledge the power of social media. I’m now catching up and passing some by using Twitter. What’s next? I don’t know. Maybe nothing. What I know is a good blog or website is crucial for churches and ministry leaders. Pastors should have a blog link on the front page of the church website. Link a weekly question to the previous or upcoming weekend message. I know of some churches that have internet campuses and have hired “Internet Campus Pastor’s.” At Christ Fellowship they have an online chat after the service. If someone cannot attend the service, they are challenged to watch online and participate and interact within the church community online. I love that! One other medium I’ve used to communicate with my Sunday School Class is “mass email.” I use a “Connection Card” to update constantly. I ask if the person is MySpace, Facebook, and get email address with birth date. I send an email to my class twice a week to encourage them to keep up their “walk with God.” It helps keep community during the week and helps them remember to come to class (I send one email on Saturday).

How are you using social media to create and enhance biblical community for the unreached and reached within your church?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Assimilation, Ministry, Walk with God

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