By Steve Fogg
Over the last few years I’ve met and spoken to many different church leaders on my travels to England and more locally here in Australia in social media seminars. For many leaders and pastors who bravely sat through my presentations and stayed awake (I can cure insomnia) well done! One of the undercurrents I noticed in some conversations there was a cautiousness of adopting social media, from others there was a definite distrust of it.
Here are seven of the barriers that need tearing down.
1. Social media is evil
In and of itself social media isn’t evil. Social media is simply a way to connect with others that you know on a digital platform. Throughout the ages we’ve changed the way we communicate with each other. We’ve had the letter, telegram, phone, mobile phone, market place, pub, church to name just a few. Some are face to face, others are not. Social media is just the medium of this moment.
2. It’s not ‘real’ evangelism
The New Testament provides great insight into missional activities and demonstrates that the gospel must go and be spoken to where the people gather together. The Apostle Peter preached to the marketplace. One of today’s marketplaces is online on the social web. Million’s of people connect online just like they do offline.
The Apostle Peter bought his brother Andrew because he heard Jesus and wanted Andrew to meet him. Now people can share their faith experience online with a click at a button. Be it through a link to a website, a live service, a social media quote from church. The message spreads virally through the actions of the Christian on social media.
3. It’s superficial
Yes some of it is. But then so are many conversations at dinner parties, pubs and any other social occasions that we can sometimes attend. Your presence on social media is your opportunity to contribute to actually changing the level of conversation to something that is more profound and deeper.
4. It fosters narcissism
Social media can certainly produce narcissism and disconnected people. It’s the church’s opportunity to change the conversation less about ‘me’ and more about ‘others’ in ways that provide connections back to the church. Churches used to provide potlucks and after service parties for community, but now its through online connections on Facebook or whatever local flavour of social network that works. The message never changes, but the methodology does. Social media is just one way to reach a narcissistic generation and change the tone of the conversation in a positive way.
5. It’s not an effective communications channel
This is flat out wrong. If done well, social media could be your most effective communications channel. Certainly when it comes to outreach, the extended reach of social media has never been created ever in marketing and communications before. Social media is one of the best ways to get your message out there, and let others spread your message for you.
6. Makes you vulnerable to trolls and negative feedback
There will always be haters, trolls in whatever environment a church is in. Expect criticism. Expect abuse. Sometimes it is actually a good barometer that you are reaching into places that really need the light of the church shone into.
7. It’s not biblical
Radio, TV, email, video, or the printed word were not invented in the new testament. But we are all comfortable with using these mediums to communicate the gospel. Social media is no different. It is just another tool for your communications toolbox. It may just be the most powerful tool you have.
What are you waiting for?
What would you add to this list? Or would you disagree? Comment below!