Saturday, April 14, 2012

Constantly morphing thoughts on "social" "media"

About a month ago, I posted this essay, What I'd like my bishop to know about social media. Time marches ever onward, and it is an example of how quickly the digital world is changing (and changing us) that there are already some ways I'm thinking differently about these topics than I did just six short weeks ago.

Today I've got 45 minutes for a workshop on this topic with synod assembly attendees. We're meeting in an abandoned Starbucks on the outskirts of Tulsa (somehow this sounds cooler than calling it the "hotel lobby"). So now I'm asking myself,

What would I like workshop attendees to know about social media?

I. I'd like workshop attendees to know answers to the questions they have about social media, rather than answer questions they don't have (in this sense, increasingly I'm pondering the simple and practical dimensions of social media).

II. We don't use social media for ministry. Social media is ministry.

III. Lots of things are social. Everything is media. 

IV. The transition to a largely digital sensorium is both as momentous as everyone says it is, and yet not quite as momentous as we think. Lots of things are changing, but right now we are experiencing (mostly) the effects of the changes rather than the outcome of whatever is going to eventuate.

V. It's all about connections.

VI. Branding and "digital footprint" are important parts of evangelism. "Messaging" isn't a bad thing. Many people I know who are coming back to the church and re-connecting after years away say, "I'm here at least in part because of your digital footprint." In other words, people are watching, sifting, learning, participating even before they arrive at your door (even if they never arrive at your door). We are in the era when you can get to know each other and then choose to meet, as compared to the old era when you met, and then decided whether you wanted to get to know each other.

VII. Social is really social. People aren't in your church group just to be told what events to attend. They are equally or more interested in helping you find the best hardware store in town.

VIII. Go try some stuff out. Have fun. Then choose the top social media venues that add value to your life and help you connect.

IX. It is amazing how much digital social media opens up space for people with conditions that typically marginalize them (like Aspergers, anxiety, phobias, physical limitations) to connect and be church together.

X. Don't worry about boundaries so much.

p.s. I anticipate eight participants. We had more like 40. Great conversation. Please, add your insights from the discussion in the comments below.


  1. Anonymous5:35 PM

    Some great thoughts here! Number 10 is probably the hardest for some people to recognize; especially those who are in vocational ministry. Finding the right balance between privacy and disclosure is tricky. However, it is worth the risk.

    I also appreciate the importance of developing a personal "brand". The idea of branding is anethema to many congregations but it is essential if you with to connect people to your message in a consistent way.

  2. Anonymous7:10 PM

    The Doubletree hotel is not on the outskirts of Tulsa, the Hard Rock Cafe is.

  3. When I lead workshops on this, inevitably the majority of questions and comments are around #10, which just puzzles me, since I spend virtually no time worrying about it myself.