Chris 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:
- Kat French is a social mediator. For money. In the real world. And she also writes Internet Bard where she talks about faith and life and juggling everything she juggles.
- Kristin Tennent writes Halfway to Normal about a bunch of things, including a blended family, her church and her spiritual journey.
- Cheryl Smith is working on her consultancy business. She also is spending time talking to lots of Baptists in Virgina about social media. She even tweets about it.
- Jim Hughes is a lay (doesn’t get paid and isn’t a church professional) hospital chaplain in Texas, who writes about how to help people in the hospital at Difficult Seasons.
- Jim Martin is a pastor in Waco who writes about his life and the kinds of things that he tells people in his office.
- Rob Wenger is on staff at Granger Community Church and has a personal/professional blog at Entermission.typepad.com
- Pinelake Church has a Facebook fan page, as does Grabill Missionary Church and Fairview Missionary Church
- Ben Sternke, Bob Hyatt, Steve McCoy, and Earl Smith are smaller church pastors (as in smaller than churches of 10,000 people who of course could afford a big social media staff) I follow on twitter and on blogs (But Rick Warren is tweeting, too).
- Andrew Hoffman runs a not-for-profit that helps people with practical stuff (like raking and roofing) and recruits help through facebook and twitter.
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.