Saturday, February 18, 2012

Social Media Resources for Churches
(and becoming resources for one another)

I have been perplexed, humbled, and greatly encouraged by the growing number of individuals who have commented to me in recent weeks about St Christopher's use of social media in our work as the Church.  Our church is developing a reputation for consistently and creatively engaging our larger community through social media.  By social media, these folks mean our blend of electronic discourse via our website, this blog, email, facebook, and twitter.  People tell us we're good at these things.

I find this positive feedback perplexing and humbling because I feel like our efforts are very much a work in progress, with a lot of trial and error (some days mostly error).  I find this feedback encouraging because even errors require a lot of work and daily learning, and it seems that some of that work is bearing fruit.

One of the great ironies of the process is that the positive feedback mostly comes from outside of our local church community.  We are still working within the local congregation to make this a tool "for us."  Email, much less twitter, is not without its local challenges.  But maybe this is why I find social media so energizing in ministry: it represents one of the few areas of our existing church life that is very clearly not primarily for us.  Social networking, after all, is primarily about sharing pieces of life among disparate people.  Social media helps us practice being for others.  Most churches need practice in being for others.  This is in part what we hope we are learning from Jesus.

I realize that social media is not necessarily so.  But it can be.  And it's good practice. 

The following video is from Bishop Michael Curry in NC.  It's excellent, and the end connects the practice of social media to the Gospel in a way that I find compelling and focusing.  (Let's face it, it's easy to get distracted online.)  I also want to commend the short book Be Social: The Social Media Handbook for Churches.

But I'm also interested:

What insights do you have into social media for the Church?  What challenges have you experienced?  Where do you need help?  What help or learning would you like to share?  Where are your unexpected successes?  And my favorite question for Christians: Why, in God's Name, do you do this?

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