churches and social media – are we building relationships? – part one

coffee and churchChris Cree asked a great question at highcallingblogs last week: “Is church slow to embrace social media?”

He talks about his own consulting work in new media and the greater number of businesses than churches he sees involved in social media.

Then he says,

I don’t get that. Social media is about relationships. And relationships are what the church is about. Or at least that’s what the church is supposed to be about.

…we have to look outward to how we can benefit other people rather than looking at social media as nothing more than tools that can benefit us. After all, social media is first and foremost social. It’s about people and relationships. Social media is not about technology and tools.

I was going to write one post to respond to Chris’ question. But I can’t. It would be too long. So I’m going to write at least three.

I’m going to change the question a bit. I hope Chris doesn’t mind.

Q: Why isn’t church more involved in building relationships through social media?

A #1: We are.

I could write a long explanation of church, and differentiate between churches (as buildings people go to) and churches (as gatherings of people) and church (as services on Sunday morning) and churches (as the professional staff paid to go to the building and run services on Sunday morning for the gathering of people) and The Church (as denominations) or The Church (as all the people everywhere across the last 2000 years who have identified themselves as being connected in some way to Jesus.) But I won’t. I’ll just say that when I think “church”,  parts of all of those definitions come to my mind and yours.

Given that we can draw from each of these categories,  there are lots of places to look for examples of social media relationship building.

I’ll give examples from my own stream of social media, people who I have connected with through people in (electronic) social media.

In my feed readers I find:

In each of these examples are people connecting with people, developing relationships. Some are doing is as part of their job, some are doing it as part of their life, some are church staff members, some are hired by churches to do stuff. All of them together count, I think, as “church building relationship through social media.”

I know that providing examples doesn’t answer all of Chris’ question. So in the next few days I want to talk about, “But are churches actually accomplishing anything in real life?” and “Aren’t churches more about telling (broadcasting) than conversing (social)?”

I hope you’ll come back.


11 responses to “churches and social media – are we building relationships? – part one

  1. Interesting discussion, particularly when you frame it with one of various definitions of “church.” I would definitely add Carlos Whitaker and Ron Edmondson to your list.

    You can find their blogs here: and

  2. That’s a good take on the original question, Jon. Because I work mainly with small businesses I do tend to look at church involvement with social media in terms of organizations not individuals.

    I would add you to this list as well. Since you are both a church staff member and someone who is very actively engaging social media I’m glad you shared your perspective. 🙂

  3. Your link to Rick Warren’s twitter is wrong.

  4. thanks, Hans, fixed now.

    Chris, thanks for including me. 🙂 I would include you, too.

    Cheryl, thanks for adding to the list. and being on it.

  5. Here are a few more to consider in that list, Jon.

    John Dobbs is a smaller church minister who writes at about social media, his grief, and lots of other things. Also he’s active on Twitter and facebook, and recently started a Prayer Wave using Google Wave.

    Steve Tucker farms 4000 acres in Nebraska, but blogs, twitters, and facebooks both about agriculture and faith, connecting lots of folks. He was featured on CNN recently because of his tweeting from the tractor cab.

    I’d also suggest that facebook is a powerful tool being used by many. My facebook connections with several hundred in our church facilitates my shepherding role in wonderful ways.

  6. Thanks for including me in the list, Jon. FWIW, the “church” (in Chris’ organizational sense) I currently belong to, Sojourn (, has been using social media pretty extensively to build and foster relationship and a sense of digital and “real” community. In addition to a membership message board and blogs, most of the staff actively uses Facebook and Twitter to connect to people. Bobby Gilles (, the communications minister, is in my community group and is really committed to the use of these tools to forward the work of the gospel. 🙂

  7. Pingback: churches and social media – are we building relationships? – part two « Levite Chronicles

  8. Jon,

    Our mutual friend Zena Weist sent me to this post.

    I’m so glad she did. I love your writing and viewpoint. Just wanted you to know.

  9. ^_^··哈哈··支持捏!

  10. Pingback: churches and social media and relationships – part three « Levite Chronicles