Did you ever get in trouble because you stuck your fingers in your ears to avoid something you didn’t want to hear?
Too many churches have their collective fingers in their ears with regard to the Internet and social media. It’s no longer enough to throw up a Web site, update it once a month and forget about it. As church attendance declines nationwide, maybe there is more you can do to engage your community. What about social media? If you’re new to the idea, you are probably a bit skeptical. You’re not alone.
Here are the five most common objections to social media and why you should at least consider it anyway:
- Twitter and Facebook are a waste of time. Why should we care what some guy ate for lunch? We have made cutbacks because of the economy — we can ill afford to waste staff time.You probably don’t care what someone had for lunch, but do you care if they are hurting, have questions about faith or need prayer? People often express themselves online and the church’s presence can lead you to possible ministry opportuntiies. I once saw a tweet from someone who had successfully prevented a suicide through Twitter. What if the church had seen that tweet and been able to help?Be creative. Spread the responsibility. Incorporate it into your existing communications strategies; each ministry could provide short items for tweets and/or Facebook updates for their activities along with the copy they generate for the newsletter, Web site or bulletin.
- No one in our congregation even knows what Twitter is. And Facebook is just for kids to show off party pictures.So … you are only interested in your congregation? Is that what Jesus calls the church to be? Maybe your congregation isn’t into it right now. But it’s a good bet they will be over the next few years or even months. And who knows how many outside your church are already engaged in online activities. What if your next college or student event, or photos of the latest mission project were in the stream alongside the party pictures?The Bible says go. Sometimes go is a remote country, sometimes it’s the inner city and sometimes it’s the Internet.
- There’s porn/junk/ on the Internet.Yep. There is. And there are magazines at the grocery store with headlines that would make you blush. Nasty stuff on TV. Are you going to stay out of the grocery store? Sell your TV? Do you really think God didn’t know about the Internet when He breathed life into Adam? I believe He expects us to use everything He has given for His work. The Internet is no exception.
- Someone might say something bad.They might. At some point they probably will. But guess what? They are saying it anyway. They have been saying it. You just didn’t know about it. There may have been countless conversations about your church that are negative. Now you have a chance to listen. You don’t want to know? That’s a different problem.In many cases, an unfounded negative comment will be debunked by other readers or commenters before your very eyes, which is far more powerful than any prepared statement you might issue.
- We don’t have anyone on staff who is geeky or tech-savvy. We’re not all that computer literate.So … you’re not willing to learn something new, something that would benefit both you personally and the church? Would you say that to your boss in the business world if he/she asked you to pick up an additional skill or two? If ministry is your calling, why not explore new ways to do what you’ve been asked by God to do. I believe He calls us to be open to new and effective ways of doing His business.
Clearly, social media isn’t right for every church. I don’t suggest that it is. But I do believe it’s important to consider the benefits seriously, investigate them thoroughly and intelligently and make an informed decision rather than dismiss it out-of-hand.
If we’re not willing to consider new technologies in the church, we start to look a bit like that old guy who thinks the old ways are the only ways; he complains about the music, the new preacher, the new service time and the new carpet. Let’s don’t be that guy.
Can we take our fingers out of our ears now?