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Why You’re Annoyed by Social Media Discussions

Napoleon Dynamite Likes Your Church's Social Media SkillsJust a note: This is one of those self-reflective, more-to-myself-than-to-you posts.

Come on. Die already – social media conferences, social media blogs, and conversations about social media conferences and blogs. Are you with me? (I actually enjoy conferences, but I’m trying to appeal to the side of you that’s a bit like me sometimes – overly saturated with this stuff.)

I always snicker inside when I’m in the context of a Christian conference or meeting and the question comes up about whether Jesus would use social media today if He were here. I think we need to conclude 1.) He IS alive and 2.) He IS “using” social media, with or without a Twitter account (I’m fairly sure @Jesus is not His official account considering the flippancy of it).

I’m more intrigued to know what the apostle James might say about it all. Yep. The guy who wrote that great book confronting us about stupid ways of living apart from God and bluntly calling us back to faithfulness to our message. I think if James were on a panel about using social media (don’t even go to whether he would be or not), he might say…

Be doers of this thing we call interacting with human beings and not just hearers only… Stop theorizing. Stop arguing about the nuances. Stop debating about whether “social media” is a one-to-one tool, one-to-many tool, one-among-many tool, many-against-one tool, or whatever. Just love people. Spread the gospel… Use Twitter and Facebook. Blog about it. Stand on street corners. Drop leaflets out of hot air balloons. Just get to doing!

I think what churches and church leaders are longing for is less “social speak”, fewer buzz words, and the end of debates about subjects we’re ten years behind the secular world on anyway and more things we can actually do to grow the kingdom.

Here’s the thing. “Media” is any kind of message. It can be a song, a book, a blog post, a famous quote… it can even be the gospel. “Social” simply pertains to human interaction and conversation. So “social media” just means interacting with humans about a message.

The weakness in the church is not a lack of adoption of social media tools so much as it is that we’ve moved away from interacting with humans, in human ways, about the gospel.

Thankfully, there’s this crazy “social media revolution” going on that includes tools and trends like Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging. And this crazy revolution is forcing us to deal with our unsocial natures. It’s forcing us to grapple with why our influence is diminished in modern society. It ultimately forces us to squarely face this bigger issue of why don’t we just share the gospel by all means to communicate with all people so that some might be saved?

Stop arguing about whether Facebook is good or bad or whether Twitter is just for narcissists or not. Stop clamoring for another platform from which to spew buzz words on bored audiences about how we need to be more “organic” or “conversational.” Be doers.

The most important details about social media were written before the existence of Twitter or Facebook in the form of The Cluetrain Manifesto, but most “experts” today won’t have read it, which is why we keep starting the conversation that’s been happening for a decade without us.

You’re annoyed by social media discussions for the same reason I am. Because it causes me to become distracted from… doing! Of course, if I stop talking… if I cut back on buzz words… if I simply do what we’re talking about so much… how will people know I’m cool?

What the Greatest Minds In Church Communications Know

Very little… in a good way.

Last night, I sat in a big room at Saddleback where I was surrounded by geniuses in the field (speakers and panelists from Cultivate 2011 as we held three brief conversations about three different themes:

  • How do we keep things simple?
  • How do we keep things social?
  • How do we make things viral?

And here are the big themes I walked away with.

  • None of us know much. We know trends. We know tools. We have a handle on culture. We can articulate best practices, but things are moving so fast around us that none of us have it all nailed down.
  • We are thinking, listening, and learning – all of which are more valuable than knowing.

We live in times of unprecedented opportunities for world evangelism in which borders (literal and figurative) are collapsing between nations, languages, and cultures. Because of technology, more people are sharing their faith than ever before. There’s plenty of room for debate about that, but I’m convinced that evangelism is more accessible than ever before. And so my role, as a Pastor, is to equip believers for ministry, which for me includes talking about how to use new tools, how to spread great content and ideas, and how to build real relationships in a virtual world.

At the conclusion of the night, I loved what Sherry Surratt said in summary – “I always consider a learning experience like this a success when we raise more questions than answers.” Keep thinking.

photo source: hillaryandanna

Does Your Church Have a Good Communications Strategy?

Communications is what we do. It’s how we spread the gospel, disciple believers, and connect the disconnected in relationships with God and each other. We tell, shout, herald, preach, and evangelize the world. We communicate.

Plenty of churches communicate well, at least in one aspect of communications. What we often lack, however, is a comprehensive and cohesive total church communications strategy.

I’ve just written an article at ResonateorDie on Three Layers of a Total Church Communications Strategy. Head over there to read the article and offer feedback.

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