Q: Why isn’t church more involved in building relationships through social media?
A #1 was We are.
I gave a bunch of examples. The comments have a bunch more. Today, I want to pick up another answer.
A #2: Because we don’t think we can, or need to.
Jesus told lots of farming stories. They were perfect for him. He could sit on a hillside, talking to a group of people, point across the pasture and talk about shepherds and sheep. He could talk about farmers and even the daydreamers could see what he was referring to.
One day he talked about planting seeds.
He said that one day a farmer was out planting seeds. He had a bag of seed hanging over his shoulder, kind of like a messenger bag. He reached in, grabbed a handful of seeds. With a sidearm motion, he tossed the seed to his left, scattering it across the ground. He took another handful and tossed it right.
Soon, all the ground was covered with seed.
It’s a planting technique called “broadcasting.” My grandpa used it. It’s easier than planting each seed one by one.
However, it is terribly inefficient.
Sometimes seeds fall on the path. Nothing grows. Sometimes they fall where the soil barely covered rocks. The seeds sprout and then die from lack of roots. Sometimes the seeds fall in the middle of the weeds and get choked out. Sometimes they fall where the ground has been worked up.
That metaphor, because it was used by Jesus, characterizes much of how churches approach media, whether preaching, printing, televising or tweeting. We think that all we have to do is to say spiritual stuff and whether it takes root or not is not our responsibility. It’s the responsibility of the listener to get away from the weeds or send roots around the rocks.
Unfortunately, when a broadcasting (or proclamation) model runs into social media, there is a fundamental clash of values. The very thing that make social media fun – interaction, conversation, commentary – is the polar opposite of broadcasting. And the interaction is threatening for people who try repeating a packaged message.
Here’s the sad part for church: Jesus didn’t broadcast, at least not in the sense of sending a message to a huge group without direct interaction. Yes, he preached on mountains. But he also spent three years building relationships with 12 guys who eventually deserted him…and then he came back to life and walked back into their lives.
In the story about the farmer, Jesus was talking about the soil, as much about what people do when they hear about him as he was talking about how to throw stuff. The model Jesus spends four gospels providing is the ultimate in relational media. In order to build relationship, he put on a body and walked around. He didn’t use social media. He became a walking, breathing, interactive, conversational, open to comments, social medium.
In this, Chris Cree is right. Church or churches or church service or church people (see my definitions yesterday) have been slow to adopt social media. But not just the electronic kind. Our challenge is to translate the Word into our lives such that people can read them and understand the whole of the Gospel. Not just success, but forgiveness. Not just failure, but faith. Not just striving, but community.
And that’s why broadcasting is so much easier.
I’ll be back later for a part three. For now, however, does this make sense?
here’s a link to part one: churches and social media – are we slow in building relationships? part one