Monday, December 9, 2013

Should Churches be Scared of Social Media?

I'm not a very 'handy' person when it comes to doing manly chores around the house, but for whatever reason, I decided to build a 30ft x10ft wall in my garage with zero professional help.

With YouTube as my guide, I put the supplies list together, got the materials and began framing the wall the best I knew how.  At first, my father-in-law and I were getting frustrated because we were swinging hammers and neither one of us appeared to be very skilled at driving nails.  It wasn't too long before we realized that the tools we were using worked, but they weren't the most effective tools for the job ahead of us.

After making a couple phone calls, we were picking up an air compressor and nail driver that could literally shoot hundreds of nails per minute.  Framing that wall with hammers would have taken days, but in a matter of about 45 minutes, the wall was framed and ready to be erected.

What does that have to do with Social Media?

I was asked by a Pastor this week if I thought churches should be a part of the Social Media movement.  When asking the question, I could tell from the moment he opened his mouth that there was little to no interest in regards to them using social media, but because of his passion for people, he was curious if I thought it could be a benefit to what they were doing.

From what I can tell, there are a lot of churches (and organizations) having this same conversation.  And it seems like many times, in the midst of the discussion, we've already got our minds made up, one way or another.

There are times we are all in, but most of the time, we tend to lead with excuses…

  • Building an online presence takes a lot of time (that we don't have).
  • I'm not sure how it works, so instead, we'll keep doing it the same way we've always done it.
  • I like face-to-face networking.  Social Media isn't right for me.
  • For our church/organization to completely buy in to Social Media, it would cost us $ we don't have.
  • I don't see how Social Media can benefit us in the real world.
  • There are too many options (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Pinterest, Google+, etc.).  I don't know where to begin.
As I thought through these excuses, I remembered the day we were building the wall.  I can remember thinking through many of these same things.  At one point I was convinced that swinging the hammer was the way to go… 

  • For us to get in the truck and go get the nail gun, it would take time (time we could be swinging hammers and making progress).
  • I've never used a nail gun.  I'm not sure how it works.  Why don't we just keep hammering instead.
  • If I borrow a nail gun, I'm going to have to buy new nails and they're expensive.  How about we just keep hammering the nails I've already purchased instead?
  • How do we know what nail gun to use?  What kind of nails?  What kind of compressor?  It's all new to me and I'm just not too sure about any of it.
Excuses naturally prevent progress.  They'll keep you in the garage, working with rusty hammers when there's a power tool with your name on it just a few miles down the road.  Get beyond the excuses and consider these questions:

Can Social Media Enhance Relationships and Expand Our Brand?

The majority of people that sit in our churches each week are on Social Media of some kind.  They're interacting, researching, informing and being informed by the online community and if our relationships within the Church are going to be enhanced, we have to be willing to connect where they already are.  Not only that, but as a Church, you have an online brand if you realize it or not.  You are either intentional or neglectful towards your virtual brand and your online presence reflects that intentionality or lack thereof.  Believe it or not, the majority of people that visit your church in person have already visited your church online.  They've researched you.  They've seen what time the services are.  They've read the timeline on your church Facebook page.  They've creeped on your staff and read reviews on Yelp.  If you don't have an online presence, these people will be creeping on another church and there's a good chance they'll find a church home elsewhere.

The Internet isn't going away and neither is social media.  In a culture where over five billion searches happen on Google each day, you better believe that the invisible churches online aren't going to grow like the churches that take social media seriously.  We're seeing a trend where churches that choose to be visible and available in the virtual world are seeing people assimilate into real-world church relationships.  Connecting with your virtual community helps you build real relationships, and these relationships, once they're fully integrated into the body, will then become marketing arms for the Church online.

What Would Jesus Do?  

It's hard to imagine Jesus with a Twitter account.  At the same time, it's also sad to realize that we live in a world where, even if He did have one, He'd be competing for the top twitter account against Katy Perry,  Justin Beiber, and Lady Gaga.  

So the question is asked, "What Would Jesus Say About Social Media?"  I'm not going to try and speak for Jesus, but I would like to remind you of something He did say in His Scripture.  In 1 Corinthians 9:19-2, Paul says, "I become a servant to everyone so that I can win them to Christ… Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.  I do this to get the Good News to them."

This should serve as a great reminder that God has called us to love people so much that we'll do whatever it takes to reach them and minister to them.  That's what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 9 and the message is the same today.  Like Rick Warren said, "We need to use every available method at every available time to reach every available person for Jesus!"

Social Media isn't something we should be afraid of, but rather, we should be excited about.  We live in a day where a stay-at-home mom wearing a bathrobe and slippers has the opportunity to write a blog on her laptop and reach as many people as Billy Graham did traveling the globe and preaching the Gospel for over 60 years.  The potential is great, but now it's time for us to take advantage of the moment and use these new tools (not just the rusty ones) to help build the Kingdom.

1 comment:

  1. A thought about social media.