Think of the electronic social media world as a mission. What do people do when they go on the mission field? 1) They study the culture, 2) They learn the language and 3) They connect with people. We must learn to live in the this world!
Ministry leaders must become comfortable in the world of social media and electronic connections. Whether we like it or not, these platforms help us build relationships and engage for the sake of relationship and the gospel.
It’s been noted that to reach 50 million users, it took radio 38 years, it took television 13 years, and it took the Internet 4 years. Then Facebook came along and added 200 million users in less than a year. Then mobile apps hit one billion users in nine months!
One statistic I read concluded that the average American adult spends 2.6 hours on of the big three social media sites each day (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). Facebook is still the highest engagement statistically, with over 75% of all adults in America connected and 75% engaged daily. [do this google search]
There is no doubt, ministry leaders must become social media citizens, leveraging these tools to enter the lives of people. Nothing can replace face to face, geographically close shepherding ministry, but social media can enhance it.
In his book, Zombies, Football and the Gospel, Reggie Joiner gives some ideas about why this is so important for ministry leaders:
- The social media world allows you to connect meaningfully, even when you can’t be present physically.
- It allows you to have critical conversations with those who need to hear from you.
- It allows you to express ideas and answer tough questions for more than one person at a time.
- It allows you to connect creatively with people.
- It allows you to receive information and feedback from people who otherwise may not give it to you.
For some people, they may even prefer to deal with hard things through social media rather than in person.
Additionally, ministry leaders must learn to use social media for some other important roles it plays in leadership:
- For encouraging the flock or their team.
- To enlist people for a ministry role, a volunteer role or an event
- To get ideas and feedback from people
- To communicate information about the vision and culture of the organization
Ministry through social media requires no extra money – it’s basically free! It does however require time. If you haven’t entered this mission field, here are the steps: 1) Talk with someone in your church about how to get started 2) Google it and learn 3) Prioritize it on your calendar – spend just a few minutes each day 4) Hire a coach if needed. 5) Take a step and begin.
If you are already involved, take your connection up a notch. Start a blog. Invest in Hootsuite to schedule posts and monitor engagement. Begin to build a social media ministry team. Learn from pros. Treat social media as a telephone not a mega phone – be sure you are engaging personally with people.
One big key to becoming a great virtual minister is to begin somewhere. Insert yourself, humbly, into the world. Listen, learn, ask questions, and become a social media citizen. In a world where the message of hope is needed, your voice and your witness will be life giving!
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