Going Social: Five Reasons Why Social Media Matters
Fact: Social media matters if you plan on doing ministry to teens in this century. If you are reading this, there is a high likelihood that you are already using social media to begin with. Other than subscriptions to our blog, most people read our content by clicking through from links posted via Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you use social media in ministry all the time, but you find that it’s a chore. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by all the types of social media out there and have resorted to only use one type. Maybe you are reading this blog and you’ve never even heard of Facebook. (If this is you, welcome to planet earth.) So why use social media in ministry? Is it just a fad? Does it actually disconnect people more than create authentic relationship? What’s the spiritual side to all this? So glad you asked! Here are five reasons to use social media in your ministry strategy.
- The Incarnation: Jesus met people where they were. God left heaven and put on flesh just to have relationship with us, and ultimately to die for us. We are called to live incarnational lives, meeting people in the world they live in. The world of students is saturated with social media, and by using social media in our ministry, we are meeting them where they are in life.
- Establishing Trust: Referencing a popular YoutTube video or a trending Twitter hashtag in Bible study or conversation lets students know you actually take their world seriously. If you are a serious social media user this will come naturally. If not, watch yourself or it may sound like a contrived attempt to be cool, which is anything but cool.
- Establishing Community: Staying connected throughout the week on Facebook or another forum is a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in the lives of students. Part of what it means to be a disciple is to live in community with other believers, so view social media as a tool that can enhance your discipleship strategy.
- Establishing Entrances: Every time someone delivers a phone book to my door I think, haven’t they heard of Google? Your ministry is no longer found by people searching though YellowPages. Your digital presence is your front door to the world. Students may find your church for the first time through Facebook, YoutTube, or Instagram, so view social media as part of your evangelism strategy.
- It’s here to stay: These companies have IPO’s on the New York Stock Exchange! (although they may be overvalued). The main social media companies are here to stay, and will remain deeply embedded in our culture. Any ministry that fails to utilize social media is swimming upstream.
Maybe I have you convinced that social media is a helpful tool for ministry. Good. Now a huge question may be looming, like “where do I start?” No worries. There is a simple answer. My good friend Terrace Crawford has written an amazing resource titled Going Social—A Practical Guide On Social Media For Church Leaders (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2012). In his book, Terrace lays out an excellent case for why social media is a great addition to any ministry. Perhaps more important than that, he gives extremely practical advice for people who are novices to social media and those who desire to utilize social media in their ministry. His book is available on here on Amazon. It is easy to digest, and I believe anyone reading this blog would find it helpful. With a resource like the one Terrace has provided, there is no need to be afraid of social media any longer, so let’s embrace incarnational living, embrace trust building, embrace community, embrace evangelism, and embrace reality by using social media as a tool for student ministry.