On May 17, 2010

Churches and Social Media

So for the past few months, I’ve been working with a team of people at RHCC to help us figure out our Social Media strategy. That’s what we made this video for, and why we started using Twitter and Facebook. And before Leslie and I leave for A-town in August, we hope to have a working system in place for communicating and using Social Media for Gospel means.

But we know that any media has it’s pro’s and con’s.

Did you know that 1 in every 5 divorces that occur in America today list Facebook as a reason for the separation? Or that the head of the Catholic Church in England declared Social Media as the next wave of sin. Not because it’s inherently evil, but because people can replace virtual relationships with real, live, flesh and blood ones. And while those things can be true, one of the things I think we’ve got to consider is the nature of church.

The genius of the Church is that she is called to be incarnational in the context that she is in. That is, we are actually God’s presence in a world that is always changing, and so the strategies and means we have of relaying that presence is always changing as well. The statistics show that before a young adult steps into a church building they will have checked it out online at least 5 different ways. It’s is the language that our culture is beginning to be fluent in. And as any missionary will tell you, it’s important to know the language.

Social Media is neutral. There’s not anything inherently good with Twitter. And there’s not anything inherently evil with Facebook, Myspace yes, but not Facebook. They can be used to do horrible things like initiate affairs, or great things like help people get introduced to the way of Jesus. And since the chances are if you’re on this blog you’re pretty familiar with the way the internet operates, I’ve got a question for you.

What ways have you seen churches/non-profits/ministries using social media that were creative or effective?

You’re input will be helpful in for the next few weeks as we plan how to go forward with this initiative. So we try to figure out how to live out the way of Jesus in this world that is rapidly changing, help us answer this question…What does the Gospel look like today?

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  • http://mitchwiggains.net Mitch Wiggains

    I don’t know too much about the best way of doing this… I am trying to figure it out as well. One of the men that I follow (blog, twitter, and facebook) I believe does a pretty good job. His name is Trey Morgan (treymorgan.net). He is the preacher in Childress, TX and might have some good ideas, at least someone who I believe it doing a good job on a local level.

    Grace and Peace.

  • http://dustcoveredtalmid.blogspot.com/ Dan Gill

    I’d like to see the source of the 1 in 5 divorces statistic you use. That seems pretty high to me.

    I agree that social media is a tool like any other tool. It can be used for good or evil. I pray it is used for good at RHCC.

  • Peter Mosley

    Awesome video! I really like that this church is looking into adjusting technologically, but, as the video humorously stated…it is possible to overdo it.

    Perhaps media works best when it is seen as a response to people’s concerns, so that you connect with them before they walk in the doors on specific topics that concern them. I’m thinking of a couple preachers on YouTube. Sometimes, when I’m wondering about a topic, I’ll type in the topic on YouTube, and one of these preachers will come up. It would be awesome if I could ask Rick Atchley or you a random question via a YouTube search, then be able to share the answer to that specific question to my Dad or a close friend by sharing the video, and then see that video shared again. I identify with the preacher being up close and personal (in a way), even though it’s through a YouTube video — it’s like proof that the preacher is concerned about some of the same topics I am and somehow there’s more “life” in it than words, sometimes (although words are awesome, too). Interviews with texted-in or often-asked questions, then individual videos with the individual questions as the titles, is something that seems fairly popular and effective that creates that interpersonal bond.

    Maybe that’s outside of the scope of what you may be doing (you seem to be asking more for input on text presentation, as opposed to visual presentation), but I’m just trying to brainstorm — this is something I turn to frequently. Again, it’s exciting to hear that you guys are seriously addressing this technological age!

  • http://djiverson.com dj

    As a result of a devo on the love language of physical touch, our youth ministry created an event called “High Five Friday”. We invited our friends to participate in this event, which did not seem like a big deal at the time, until we realized that we had just contacted thousands of people in a matter of minutes. For free. The end result was that we had people attending “High Five Friday” all over the US. We even had one teacher in Central California encouraged all of his classes to participate.

    I don’t know how far reaching the impact of “High Five Friday” was on our culture. (We are still waiting for a news team to track down the innovators behind this social phenomenom.) But it taught us a great lesson. In a matter of minutes we were able to send ot a message to potentially millions of people. Our prayer is that on that day, someone who needed positive physical contact got a high five. Or someone who was having a potentially bad day smiled for a second.

    The thing is, we have no idea how much of an impact we made, and we’re okay with that. We asked God to bless that event, and we trust that He did.

  • http://www.westcoastwitness.com Wes Woodell

    I’m with Dan – you have a source on those stats?

    I hear Facebook ads give you a lot of bang for your buck. RHCC might consider investing and linking them to their FB page. The ads are reasonable (pay per click) and effective.

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Mitch, thanks for that, I’ll check him out. It’s good to hear from you brother!

    Hey Bro. Danny and Wes, I heard that statistic on NPR last week, I think a lot of it is traced back to marital infidelity, or talking to previous boyfriends/girlfriends on Facebook.

    Peter, that’s a good suggestion (the YouTube videos) I’ll pass that on. We’ve talked about the text message sermon idea, hopefully we’ll get there soon. Glad you are excited about this brother!

    DJ, you started that? It’s huge in Texas :) You took High Five Friday Viral. Thanks for sharing that.

    Wes, we are talking about that right now, good to have re-affirmation about it though.

  • Doug Page

    Jonathan,

    We just began using Church Text Pro here in Huntsville. I’m sure you’re familiar with it with your team doing the research but I thought I’d at least mention it here. We’re still learning how to best incorporate it into the mission of what God is doing here but I think it will be helpful longterm.

    I know I’ve never commented on your blog before but I’ve watched from a distance and know we have a number of mutual friends (Josh Kasinger,Josh Ross, Rick Carder, Joe Don Ridgell being among those). Excited for you and the new adventure God is leading you into in Abilene. Keep up the good work bro! Hope to meet you personally sometime in the future.

    Grace and Peace,

    Doug

  • http://www.stormented.com jonathan Storment

    Doug thanks for that, I’ve never heard of Church Text Pro, but I’ll look into it. Thanks for commenting, glad that you’ve been stopping by. Hope to hear from you more, and I look forward to one day meeting you as well.

  • http://dustcoveredtalmid.blogspot.com/ Dan Gill

    Well, of course NPR never said anything that wasn’t true . . .

  • http://www.westcoastwitness.com Wes Woodell

    One more thing I think might be cool – Driscoll does this a lot at Mars Hill. Have you thought about allowing people to text/facebook/Twitter in questions in response to sermons/sermon series and then having Rick or whoever’s teaching answer them on the spot?

    Someone would have to filter them for him, but that’s a way to get live interaction on the spot from your audiences.

  • http://www.stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Thanks Wes, that’s a good idea. A few of us have considered that before, and I think that we might eventually do it. It probably needs a specific kind of sermon series to use it the best. Thanks for the ideas everyone.