I have some friends that are not on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site. Most of them are Christians and a couple of them are pastors. I know of some churches that do not podcast sermons. Many keep static websites, usually outdated looking, like a calendar of events with the last entry dated sometime in June of 2009. "Why does this matter?" you might challenge.
Answer: Because Jesus told his disciples (and his disciples of today by extension), "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Now, I realize that you can't baptize someone over the Internet (within the bounds of orthodoxy or reality; although there's probably some whack-o website that does virtual baptisms). I'd also like to be the first to say that the Internet is no substitute for face-to-face interaction and community. The Internet, like many other things, holds the ability (when abused) to destroy marriages, families, and even lives. However, like the printing press, telegraph, telephone, radio, and television, it is a communication tool. More significantly, as church planters are flocking to the urban areas and missionaries are headed to the third world, there are still millions and millions of people that can be touched in some way via social networking and the Internet. In some instances, the Internet might be a person's only porthole to any Christ followers. Either way, outside of face to face interaction, the Internet is where people communicate. Please allow me to use this video to demonstrate my point. (Realize that this information is outdated in just the time it takes to watch the presentation.)
What does this mean for the Church?
It means there is a communication potential in social media. It means if the Church doesn't communicate in this medium, it will loose the ability to converse with a generation that has always lived in a world with the internet, laptop, and cell phone. It is not as if the Internet is the only way to communicate with people, but to neglect social media is to miss a huge opportunity.
However, this does not mean that the church simply takes the old, tired paper tracks and makes them into old, tired websites. It means the Church needs to ENGAGE people in social media forums, in comments, and with blogs. This does not mean be the crazy nut-job that simply screams at everyone. It means converse and share who you are, living with Christ in you. It means that the Church need not be afraid of opportunities because they might be complicated. (And if you are not a Christian but are curious, don't be afraid to use social media to interact with Christians. It's a good place to start finding answers. You are always welcome to contact me or ask questions.)
Are you engaging people through this opportunity or are you missing opportunities?
We can discuss this further; connect with me through some common social media sites.
Subscribe to the Salty Believer Podcast!
(Non iTunes click here.)
Subscribe to the RSS Feed or sign up to receive this blog via email with the options in the sidebar to the right.