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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Festival: That Social Media Thing

I am so sorry to be so late in the day with this post! All is flotsam and jetsam here. :) But in a good way.

I am pointing you once again to some writing by Carol Howard Merritt at Tribal Church. It's some interesting thinking about the functions of social media in the church. Carol says:

I’m in the midst of editing a podcast for God Complex Radio. I interviewed Phil Shepherd, at the Euc, and Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter Group and author of Open Leadership.

While talking to Charlene, I realized that the ways we communicate and use technology in our churches have three pretty distinct functions:

1) We use it to reach out. In many congregations, people usually check out the website before they enter the church. Our website is our new front door. Another effective outreach tool seems to be our sermon podcast. We regularly get thank you emails from people who listen to it. People have also come to our church because of the reviews on Google maps. What’s been most effective for you?

2) We encourage the congregation. Charlene Li is a business writer, but I was thrilled to find out that she knew congregational culture and understood the challenges of reaching across the generations. She explained that when churches receive outside criticism, sometimes the most important thing is to build up and take care of the body. Use emails and newsletters, and make sure that your communication works across generations.

3) Leaders support each other. Right now, churches are cutting and downsizing. Retiring pastors have watched their nest egg dry up, pastors beginning their careers have found that those entry level jobs are disappearing. Church culture often blames the pastors for the decline. Sometimes it’s the case, but not always. I just don’t believe that former generations were that much more awesome than we are. Sometimes we’re just caught in difficult situations, and we need a place to vent and share with one another. We need to pray for one another. Social media has become that place for many leaders.

What functions would you add?

Oh! And new season of God Complex Radio is scheduled to come out on Tuesday! We’ve had a bit of furniture rearranging to do in the summer/fall. When Bruce Reyes-Chow stepped down from his Moderator position, Landon Whitsitt stepped up as Vice-Moderator. Landon put a ton of work in as the producer, so we’ve had to figure out how to redistribute that. Now I think we have… Landon’s going to do a bit more hosting and less producing. And we’re adding a new person on the team to help produce. But more on that later…


Thoughts on social media, how your congregations use it (or would like to) or other things? Please share in the comments: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a>
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  1. If there is anything that is splitting the church these days it is social media. I do NOT mean to say that social media is bad/wrong. I am just saying that the incredible speed with which social media develops leaves much of the present-day church going population in its dust.

    I do not text mainly because I cannot SEE those %*%%% little letters on my Blackberry! I therefore don't Twitter or Tweet. I have no idea what Skype is and haven't ever learned how to even link my blog to the Friday Five! And I know I am considered by my peers as one who is "up" on the social media scene.

    In my last parish only about 1/2 of my congregation had email addresses. 2 members of the board REFUSED to even deal with issues concerning social media and met any discussion of social media with derision.

    I don't have an Ipod and have not figured out how to download the Mahler 7th on my bb. I LIKE putting a cd into my bose and listening to it. I have no idea what a podcast is. And most of you younger pastors are using such equipment with such facility it takes my breath away.

    The problem I have is that I do not even know where I can go to LEARN how to use the laptop I have or expand my knowledge of how to use my smartfone. This gap in social media leaves many older folks out of what is happening in the world of religion. We never hear the new stuff because it is being communicated by ways we have no understanding of.

    What can we do? I am presently retired to a diocese where it is haveing to reorganize due to schism. We cannot go backward as we redevelop the diocese--we must be able to address all of this stuff but I haven't the foggiest how to even begin.

    Yesterday as I was waiting in line to get my new driver's licence, I watched a 2 yr old play games on his daddy's Iphone. I don't even know how to use one!

  2. taking advantage of a mixed economy of church - trad & fresh expressions - perhaps you could intentionally enlist the involvement of the younger church adherents? i've posted on the book 'reverse mentoring'- a good manual for what you're expressing Muthah+ let them take the lead or at least let them be heard..
    as to learning your tech tools- how about the store where you purchased them?
    and for podcasts, i post them regularly for sunday worship on my blogs with site links to more topics for more listening - just go to your favourite authors or speakers & click on their listen or media buttons..
    usually if you let someone know you're interested there'll be a connxn they will know or make - and precede all with prayer!!
    post about it on your own blogs - someone might rise to the challenge ..
    all the best


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