Social Networking And The Church
In a lot of ways the church is the home of the original social network. The church has a greater spiritual role than just meeting new people and making friends, but that is the number one reason people return to a particular church. Relationships formed in the church can be lasting and powerful. When it comes to members of the church, social networking can compliment these traditional relationships.
Social networks provide a way to stay in touch, share photos, videos, and thoughts, hopes and prayers form divergent geographic locations. So even if your friends are on a Mission Trip to Uganda, you can still keep in touch with them in an instant. What a powerful tool this provides us! So far the church as a whole has failed to embrace this medium. We all have our church website and we all have our own personal site, be it Facebook or MySpace, or Twitter (just to name a few).
One of the cool trends in social networking is the ability to synchronize content between sites. A person with a little knowledge can link their YouTube content to their blog and MySpace page with ease. This allows us to gather content from various places and have it all displayed in a central location such a feed on our churches main website. Various churches are experimenting with these freely available tools with varying degrees of success.
The problem is you need a few people dedicated to publishing CONTENT. We need pastors to embrace blogging. Ministry leaders willing to post updates about their ministries, church members who care enough about their churches happenings to view this content and post an occasional comment. This is all pretty basic.
You can go beyond this and have someone to post pictures from recent events, video clips from sermons and worship, presentations or exciting outings. A churches newsletter can easily be transferred from its original format to a web friendly format. There are a million ways to integrate the churches activities on the web so there are no excuses for not experimenting and finding out what will fit your churches form and culture.
A Divine Mandate
If the church is the exciting and vibrant place we know it to be then why are we so dull and dead looking on the web? Are we not to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Mark 15:16)? Do we have anything positive or encouraging to say to a broken world (Luke 4:18)? In our modern culture isn't the internet the equivalent of the rooftop we are to shout from (Mathew 10:27)? Are we not to pull down the strongholds of the world (2 Corinthians 10:4)? Is it not our responsibility to shed some light in this present darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6)?
We not only have the ability to utilize this medium to its fullest potential but wee have a divine mandate. So how do we start? Do we sign up for an account on Facebook and play online games with our friends or send each other virtual gifts? Although these things are amusing pastimes and how most people use social networking we should always look for ways to express our spiritual values and our causes through our interactions on the web. As we should be doing in all of our daily lives!
The Time IS Now
On many of the social networks you can add Pages as well as Causes. Its easy to go to Facebook or MySpace and set up a site for your church. This does not limit you to those mediums. As I pointed out earlier you can use some easy tools to integrate all of your feeds into one or multiple sites across the internet. But just building a website doses not mean they will come. You have to nurture relationships with people and give them a reason to keep coming back, just like in the real world.
Not only that but we need to use this opportunity to interact with other churches and build bridges, uniting in a way never before possible to pursue our common goals and interests. We have a lot to learn from each other and the unity of the entire body of Christ is needed now more than ever before. Our world is becoming more fractured and polarized in the political and the social realms. We need to let them know the love of God through our love for one another (1 John 4:7)
So do you follow Jesus on Twitter? How about on MySpace and Facebook? Why not follow him in your daily life and make his presence known through your interaction on the medium of social networking? He called us all to follow and in turn lead others into the Kingdom of God. There is a time for everything under the sun and the time for the church to embrace the freely available technology of the social networking phenomenon is now.