Why Social Media and Ministry?

Because when you understand them they work like peanut butter and chocolate. Facebook and Google are the top two most visited sites. Facebook seeks to connect people to people. Google seeks to connect people to content.

Still as of today I hear criticism and doubt as to whether social media and ministry are right for each other. In five years we will not be discussing whether they fit together but HOW we can maximize them for the greatest amount of kingdom impact.

  • http://www.nieboernews.com Janey Nieboer

    I love Facebook as a ministry tool. I still haven’t discovered all of it’s potential, but it’s great to use for feedback, and keeping people in touch with what is important…the things on the heart of God.

  • http://inkindle.wordpress.com/ Judy Douglass

    Actually, I don’t think it will be 5 years before we are asking how to maximize social media. I think that is the question NOW, though I don’t have the time or knowledge to do it well. The staggering thing is that I can’t imagine what will be available in 5 years. Steve calls the internet “the Roman road” of today–the road that makes it possible for us to take the gospel to the world almost effortlessly, even as the roads Rome built let the gospel spread throughout the world in the first century.

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      thanks for commenting judy! and “the roman road” of today is an inspiring picture for me.

    • Jijo Mathew

      Internet may be called as Roman Road. Roman roads leads to Rome or gives the confidence that Romans will reach there for take care of things. It was a sign of unification, security and a point of order was there. But Internet have no direction at all. It scatters people’s direction. It confuses, It destroys moral values, It affects the teens and offer more easier comfortable and ‘acceptable’ ways to sin. It leads thousands away from perfection of life where one or two finds the direction. What evangelists are doing here? Its more like a Open Air meeting in India, Where some pastors preaches to a huge crowd where many times no one actually listening. But I should not be discouraged to preach, because success in virtual witnessing is blog/post/scrap/facebook the gospel in the power of Holy Spirit and leaving the result to God. I am happy as an internet evangelist even though not many are listening to me.

      • Hobbe Smit

        I’m glad that people like you (Jijo) are taking the Gospel to the Internet! Have you had a chance to take a look at what TruthMedia (truthmedia.com), affiliate ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, is doing out in the great digital wilderness?

        • Jijo Mathew

          Hobbe, I am glad that truth media is doing a great job in this digital wilderness. Thats great and a model for others. I am talking about the winning part. We are preaching loud. Big event managers are able to get huge PA systems and attract large audience with their entertainment and small evangelists doing open air meetings with their mega phones. Both are evangelism. I shared the feelings of mine who is standing on a street corner with a mega phone. I am sure there are thousands of evangelists standing with me in street corners of social media and want to share the same feelings.

      • http://www.himynameisjaked.com jake demaray

        man i feel ya… sometimes it really feels like talking to the air but i love how it all comes back to taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results up to God. one thing that keeps me going is reading 1 corinthians 3 where paul talks about his and apollos ministries in the context that neither one of them are responsible for any sort of growth, they only plant seeds and water. “so neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives growth.” (vs 7) i’m so grateful for that fact but it’s also a little frustrating when it feels like i’m talking to the air.

        • Jijo Mathew

          If we can overcome that little frustration, man we will see God is saving His own through our lives. What a blessing! The thing is that ‘PREACH WITHOUT CEASING’.

    • Pam Gaither

      “the Roman road” … i like that! Steve comes up with great analogies–“the 8th continent” … “the Roman road” …

    • Jijo Mathew

      Yeh Judy, Steve is right in that internet give us access to the whole world and enables us to preach the gospel to all nations as we commanded in Matthew 18:19

    • Doug Leppard

      I agree it is NOW. We are already behind in my opinion.

    • Mike Thacker

      Well said. Perfect illustration. Learning to maximize social media effectively for ministry is a good and worthy endeavor. However, I’d love to see us get quicker on the uptake and engage sooner with the tools of influence that show promise shaping our culture. Admittedly, I love change.

      Some of that work will require letting go of something else. Where are the typewriters in our ministry(rhetorical)? And how do we get rid of them?(again, rhetorical)

    • Mark Coyne

      I totally agree Judy. I think if we don’t figure this one out quickly we may very well miss the next generation. Been working with Doug Leppard on this concept and we need to engage now.

  • http://www.churchwall.com Anders Torvill Bjorvand

    God created us for relationship with Him and to praise and adore Him. Sin destroyed that, and Jesus restored it by making God approachable to us again.

    God is all about relations. God is a social God. He created us not because he needed to – in fact he doesn’t need us at all. But He wants us. He has chosen us.

    Social media makes perfect sense as it can be a tool for exactly what God created us for. But it can also be a tool for choosing relations and ways of interacting that oppose God’s will.

    I think we need to redeem the social media. We need more than likes and comments. We need a structured way of putting prayer, empathy, intercession, concern and real communion into our social media practices.

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      hey anders thanks for your thoughts!

      although we need more than likes and comments, they are powerful tools that ARE exposing and connecting people (both christian to christian, and christian to non-christian).

      because of likes and comments over engaging content in my local ministry (http://www.facebook.com/chicocru), we have seen 20 new people join our fb fan page in a little over a week.

      i hope people don’t minimize some of these features just because they look or feel small.

      • http://www.churchwall.com Anders Torvill Bjorvand

        Don´t get me wrong. There´s a lot of beauty in the simplicity here as well. More options is not a certain path to greater and better interaction in and of itself. I feel pretty confident that the Facebook choice to not include “dislike” is a very wise one. Some times, it feels awkward not to use “dislike” to sympathize with someone, but this is outweighed by the potential hazard of people starting flamewars of thumbs down. The good thing about either liking or keeping quiet, or if you need to say something else, you need to choose your words and express yourself explicitly, is that a positive atmosphere is reinforced.

    • http://JaysonWhelpley.com Jayson Whelpley

      I think you’re right, but I wonder what kind of structure we could implement.

      I’d say that we, individually, need work to incorporate “prayer, empathy, intercession, concern and real communion” into our online interaction.

      • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

        the times when i have experienced the most traction from using social media for ministry is when i’ve followed the principle jayson is sharing.

        • http://www.churchwall.com Anders Torvill Bjorvand

          Sure, but I don´t think there´s any opposition between the two. We need two live integrated lives where we serve others from our own fellowship with Christ. No doubt about it.

          But I am still pondering, and considering making, tools to give explicit support for prayer, intercession and empathy that is kept positive, but still with more dimensions to it than the facebook way. What do you guys think? Would “pray about this” next to “like” or sometimes instead of “like” be cool? With live connections to your personal prayer list.

          • Hobbe Smit

            I think “pray about this” would be a neat feature! I suppose Facebook *does* support the creation of such an add-on… hmmmm.

          • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

            hey anders love your enthusiasm and that you are thinking about how to encourage and build people up.

            i like to think more about what students or our “end users” are doing right now, and where they naturally go (online or off) to take the actions that you’re talking about.

            the two places within fb that my students value the most are:

            1–their inbox

            2–fb chat

            both of those are the most private features offered by the platform.

            many of my students think of their prayer life as private–making public-oriented tools seems like it might conflict w the actions of the user, at least from my experience.

            i’m agreeing with you anders in terms of building tools to give explicit support for prayer, intercession, and empathy, just wondering whether or not those tools should be so public.

            • http://www.churchwall.com Anders Torvill Bjorvand

              You have some tremendous insights here, Brian!
              Here in Norway, we have a very unique position when it comes to Facebook. 60% of the adult population is on, and on average and adult spends 2.5 hours on Facebook every day, so it has passed TV. When you reach this momentum, several things happen. This means that you have your children as friends, your parents as friends, your neighbors as friends etc. It becomes an everyday glue for the local community, and you will automatically get a social accountability since everyone is so interconnected.

              However, where will FB take us? As Christians we need to be on FB. That´s where people are, and it is quickly becoming the global identity system for Internet users. Still, their main concept is “friends”. I get more all the time – making the concept of “friend” less and less valuable.

              I am working on a new concept where the big thing is the group. When you are part of a group, you automatically have sharing with other members in the group based on access levels – but only within the group. And you can of course have several groups. I think this paradigm more closely mimics real life. And it is in this context where I think we can add the things I wrote off (prayer, empathy etc).

              • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

                the new concept that you’re working on–is that within the fb ecosystem or outside? are you wanting it to be loosely or closely integrated?

                agreed that “friends” are losing their value to some degree.

                however it’s pretty easy to filter out “friends who aren’t really friends” on the feed, and to engage my friends either in chat, a group, or fan page.

                i would love to see more leaders think strategically about how to get quality content on the feeds of our students (or whatever constituent) friends.

                if we can give those people a context BEFORE they come to something offline i think it can be a huge win.

                • http://www.churchwall.com Anders Torvill Bjorvand

                  My concept would be outside of Facebook – connected to it for those who want it – but still a separate space. This is not an alternative – it’s a complement. We still need to have a clear presence at the market place (ie FB), but at the same time we need to create spaces where faith is nurtured more explicitly than what is possible on FB.

                • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

                  very cool anders!

              • Doug Leppard

                I agree with Anders that we do need a place to equip the saints to go into the virtual world. Is this inside of FB or outside doesn’t matter as much as long as it is their place to be equiped.

                • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

                  good thoughts doug.

                  since we have limited resources i would add a few things to think through in terms of an online place:

                  –it’s longevity–is it built on a platform that is sustainable and has a large critical mass of developers

                  –it’s shareability–can the content from this place be linked to in every major place in the social media ecosystem (youtube, fb, blogs, websites, etc).

                  –it’s re-usability-is it something that can be recycled for another purpose? there is a very large online graveyard of sites that did not live up to any of these categories.

                • Doug Leppard

                  Brian I so agree with you and your points. In fact I wrote a white paper on this subject using a paper Edelman group produced entitled “The Social Pulpit,” as an outline. I am sure you are familiar with the Edelman paper.

                  I will send my paper to you and maybe we can talk offline, love to hear your thoughts on it.

                • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

                  i’d love to read that paper! i’m emailing you now.

    • Anne-Marie Montgomery

      Yes… I go to facebook every day to see how my friends are doing… if they are rejoicing, I rejoice. If they are hurting, I pray for them and let them know, most often through the chat function or the e-mail function. If they are asking deep questions, I offer input and online resources. I think if we see going to facebook like meeting friends and listening to them, the opportunities to love and care are endless!

      • Jeff West

        While I don’t particularly care for virtual interaction, I do this too. What you expressed, Anne-Marie, is a way to connect without being consumed by the technology and virtual format.

  • Jeremiah Kepner

    I think steve douglass’ thoughts on the roman road is that of an information system. The roads the made travel and the dissemination of ideas possible, nit that ally he ideas were good. I think the Internet dies the same thing and we aught to use it to get the ideas of the Gospel out there. I think it’s also a bit like air travel. It allows people to have relationship across longer distances as opposed to moving from New York to California and never seeing tour family again. However, it has also spread out families over the entire country instead of in the same town. The good and bad can be said of Facebook and the like as well, but we’re not going to change it.

  • Jeremiah Kepner

    Typing on the iPod touch increases my errors. I need to spell check. :-(

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      thanks for taking the time to comment! spelling errors are forgiven on small devices w no actual keys.

  • Chelsea Morrell

    Brian, I’m glad that you shared how students at Chico use fb. Although I think for post college age fb users would love something like a pray for this feature, I as a student would be super uncomfortable using it. I try to not let my fb profile be too … churchy? I don’t want my non-Christian friends to be bombarded by the activities that my faith involves. I’d much rather have a private conversation through fb chat or a message thread about how a relationship w/ Christ isn’t about those activities. The activities, events, and posts I leave on my Christian friends’ walls already come up on their homepages. So the conversation starters are there. BUT my mom loves the fb applications that allow her to easily share her faith virtualy w/her friends and they actually are effective for her personal ministry. So it really depends on how your campus uses these tools.

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      awesome thoughts and examples chelsea! terra as well outlined the two general types of ways to do ministry online. very helpful grid to think through how to do ministry.

    • http://delicious.com/catherinesavard1http://midnightoil.squarespace.com/ Catherine Savard

      Hey Chelsea,

      I am probably old enough to be in the same category as your mother.Most of my FB friends are around the same age. I would never think of using a “pray for this” feature where my non-Christian would be around. I would probably avoid it for the same reasons. I do everything I can to create a climate of personal engagement that is free of churchyness and stuff that is only really of interest to other Christians. I provide multiple intentional opportunities to engage for those who want to, but I am careful about how I do it.I resolved the problem of conflicting audience expectations from the beginning of my FB adventures by creating two separate identities: one for Christians and another for everybody else. The one for everyone else is jealously guarded in order for it to be a safe place for my FB non-Christian friends. People can see a keyhole view of what my systematic personal broadcasting looks like outside of the transformative evangelistic environment of the entire FB profile page by looking at my Twitter account: http://twitter.com/catherinsavard

      So, what I am trying to say is that your observations and reaction is probably not a factor of age. It is probably more a factor of mindset and of how you choose to operate in a social networking environment.

      Now if we are talking about creating a “pray for this” feature for a parallel universe environment like Together on Mission which has a different purpose, it might be just the ticket.

    • Anne-Marie

      I think if we start to christianize the look of our facebook pages, we will lose people because it is that whole: we need our own space thing that starts up…like God tube, instead of being on youtube… we form a ghetto… The best way is to go to the meeting places of the world and be salt and light using their environment, not imposing ours…

  • http://toolsforcampus.wordpress.com Terra

    Social Media and Ministry: There are two ways to answer this question Brian.

    First, would be to look at how can those who are current see their arena of ministry offline. The question is how can SM help me minister? They want tools to enhance their ongoing ministry relationships. They are looking for ways to connect more often, expand into new topics, utilize the wealth of information online or engage in a different way with people already in their target audience.

    Second, there are those who want to minister online. They see the untapped potential to connect with millions of people who they may never have the opportunity to meet face to face. They want to know how can they engage in real conversation through social media outlets. They have vision and passion for reaching the unreached through these amazing outlets. (seriously awesome!)

    It may help people to determine which category they are in as they think about social media and its potential uses in their own lives for expanding the kingdom of God.

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      hey terra like the two diff categories you mentioned.

      the drum i’m beating this year is “the end user, the end user, the end user.”

      regardless of where we are coming from we have to consider the realities of the person for whom we are designing/developing.

      God-Tube is probably the best/worst example of this. It’s a great vision, but the reality is that MILLIONS of people are already spending their time on YouTube.

  • http://www.epicslo.com Brendon

    Has anyone ever read the book Flickering Pixels? It’s an awesome read about the use of technology in conveying the Gospel (from the printing press to high technology of today). The author’s central argument revolves around the rejection of the assumption that as long as the message is the same, the media doesn’t matter. He argues that the media or conduit actually has a profound impact on how the message is received.

    That said, while I’m a big proponent of using new technologies to reach people (and in my personal ministry, I’ve found super effective), there comes a point where the question needs to be asked of whether media usage is relied too heavily upon.

    God is a relational God. We are created for relationship. If we see tech and media as extensions of ourselves, then I think we’re at a good place. The concern is placing ourselves in a tech bubble, where we’re no longer one-on-one, in-person beings, but merely digital projections.

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      good thoughts brendon. thanks for letting us know about flickering pixels. have heard it mentioned somewhere before but i need to check it out.

    • Anonymous

      Amen to that remark, Brendon, about the technology being an extension of ourselves. Shane Hipps may have a point in “Flickering Pixels”. The nature of the technology shapes human behaviour more than we may realize. Nonetheless, I find that a lot of the smart use of social media comes down not to what you know about the technology and the latest gimmicks, but rather what you know about working with people. Once you learn something about the technology and that sits in the background for a while, if you are really focused on loving God and loving people, you can eventually start finding ways to use the technology to really minister to people. If you are not focused on the lovin’ people part, though, and passion for God is not the driving force and if you start doing stuff that isn’t really a natural extension of who you are in person, watch out! I think it is pretty easy to get lost in cyberspace.

      • http://delicious.com/catherinesavard1http://midnightoil.squarespace.com/ Catherine Savard

        Oopsie. I am not “anonymous”! My name is Catherine Savard. In spite of what I just said about the necessity of mastering technology for ministry purposes, I am apparently slightly incompetent when it comes to filling out a reply on this thread!

      • Anne-Marie

        I agree…technology does not reach people… people reach people, using technology to do so… following the 2 great commandments are the only way to fulfill the great commission

  • http://www.hearditonthestreet.com Rich Street

    2 thoughts here:

    1) I really like what Judy and Steve have mentioned that the internet is already the Roman road. My question is whose got the map? I don’t doubt that all of us who are reading these blogs in the blogference do think that the internet plays a key role in ministry, but who will show us the way? Probably not one person, but what group of people? I know many leaders in CCC and other organizations who believe they need to use the internet better (or at all), but they have no clue what is “out there” or how to start. We need some folks to lead the way. I think blogference is a good way to start, but we can’t wait for blogference to come around once a year.

    2) Lots of talk about facebook, but haven’t seen anyone mention TOM (togethr on mission facebook application). I think it has HUGE potential. You can learn more about TOM here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=773033335#!/group.php?gid=54923196676&ref=ts

    • http://www.hearditonthestreet.com Rich Street

      Since I messed up the link, the group is called “TOM admin resources” and is open to all.

    • Jijo Mathew

      Yeh TOM is a great application Rich. The thing is that in requires our disciples should have access to facebook. In countries like India, its rare chance for majority of campuses. But I started to disciple students in campuses who using facebook. (or you can say facebook is my campus) I could identify many and I s=tarted moving towards them. Once the winning part is success, TOM will be a great tool for me.

    • Doug Leppard

      TOM actually has the ability to interlink the various ministries around the world but still allow the local campus be their own ministry.

    • http://inkindle.wordpress.com/ Judy Douglass

      My staff and I are working with GCX and the developers of TOM to adapt it for other sites–our specifically is Global Staff Women. But the potential of the platform they are building is remarkable. I, of course, don’t really understand it techonologically. But I love the thought of great interconnectedness and reaching out with real touch and truth.

  • http://campusministryguy.blogspot.com Guy Chmieleski

    Great conversation here! Thanks Brian!!

    I was very resistant to bringing social media into my ministry with college students, but gave in just a couple of years ago, realizing that this is where students live. Virtual relationships can never replace the real thing… but they sure can be a good way to jump start them and easily stay connected… even long after our students leave campus.

    • http://www.brianbarela.com Brian Barela

      guy thanks for jumping in! this is a LONG comment train.

      i saw the response times from my students go from 25% to 100% after switching from email to facebook as the distribution platform.

  • http://twitter.com/dhand David Hand

    excellent discussion. thank you! this is helpful.

    how can we do more with social media and ministry?

    many answers, as always: “getting started is the hardest part”

    leaders are busy. successful leaders already have a legacy of success and paradigms must change. many leaders DO realize the potential of social software or social media strategies. yet, many simply DO NOT know or understand the tools, strategies and most importantly, how to INTEGRATE them into normal ministry.

    Does anyone find this chart helpful? http://www.dailybloggr.com/2010/03/the-social-media-cheatsheet-infographic/

    I would like to help revamp something like this (above) to be a guide for leaders. Maybe edit the columns across the top to denote certain transactional values that would be common for many leaders. Such as: “Event Promotion”; “Engage Conversations” ; “Coordinate Team Projects/Events” ; “Engage Prayer” etc.
    Thoughts?

    • http://delicious.com/catherinesavard1http://midnightoil.squarespace.com/ Catherine Savard

      I thought the chart had some value as a way of trying to summarize some of the things that different social media are good and doing and some of the limitations. I’m not so sure that the best way to communicate and use this information is to just change the headings. The chart was designed with commercial purposes in mind. Ministry to Christians and pre-Christians is not about selling stuff and Jesus is not a brand. I think that the value of some of the information contained in a chart like this has to be carefully sifted through a further grid of purposes and principles of being a minister of the Gospel. It could be the seed of a good idea, but the re-think might be more work than originally anticipated.

  • http://twitter.com/ChelseaMorrell Chelsea Morrell

    Hey Catherine,

    I’m glad that you are creating friendly atmospheres for your friends virtually. How has having two separate fb profiles worked for you? A couple friends have set up two accounts, but because they were stint-ing in closed or hostile countries. Being one of their Christian friends I was pretty confused by which one was the real person.

    And yeah, age might not be the factor w/ the types of fb interactions that are effective, but more so personality. I just wanted to make the distiction between audiences. I think that my friends would wonder why I had two profiles and close ones might misinterpret the two profiles to mean that I’m hiding something. I don’t know, it’s a hard thing to figure out with how to be fully yourself and transparent but still be approachable and tone down the Christian-ese. Good thing we’re all in process!

    • http://delicious.com/catherinesavard1http://midnightoil.squarespace.com/ Catherine Savard

      One thing to note about how and why I divided my FB ministry into two halves is that I took time to think things through at the beginning. I got involved with FB from the very beginning as a way of learning about and engaging in ministry. I did not start, as most people do, with less formal intentions of just getting on FB to keep up with some friends or to find new social contacts. I went into FB from the beginning as a digital missionary. Therefore, I did exactly what a normal missionary would do in a closed or hostile country. I’m on their ground. I’m not expecting them to come over and function on my turf. It was a natural next step. Having worked briefly as a missionary in closed country settings, I can’t say that I am functioning much differently online. I am just “careful” about what I put out there.

      I’m pretty sure that anyone who accepts to be my FB friend on the outreach profile comes to understand fairly quickly my association with Jesus. The profile page is designed so that you can’t visually wander around there for more than a few seconds without bumping into something that vehiculates Christian values or points towards Jesus. When you accept to be friends with Catherine, you know that Jesus is tagging along there somewhere and that it won’t be long before you run into him(unless you keep your eyes tightly closed). If people aren’t ready or don’t want to engage with the Jesus stuff, there are enough other ways and other subjects over which Catherine is prepared to engage. It is an intentionally incarnational mode.

      I recently asked a distant relative who is an open homosexual and is hostile to traditional Christian faith and values to be my FB friend. I told him to look at the preview of my FB on my Twitter account so that he would know exactly what he was getting into. He still became my FB friend. I think he agreed to this because he knows the quality of interaction my husband and I have had with him over the years through very infrequent letters and conversations. He has no illusions about what I am about and I have no illusions about what he is about right now. It is an illustration of what is meant when you say that an unbeliever may be open to the messenger, but still hostile to the message. I think that that statement describes a whole bunch of non-believers in North America today and therefore dictates how we should act towards “outsiders” to the Church even if we are not in an “officially closed” country.

      I regularly ask my Christian friends & contacts who show up on my outreach profile to re-apply with their friend invitation to my account designed for Christians. I have a standard letter that I use that explains my reasoning. In other words, I ask the Christians to take the extra steps and make it harder for them to to be my friend. I prioritize catering to the unbeliever.I view myself as teaching the Christians about this specific type of online ministry and giving them something to think about. I don’t expect that everyone will follow my example in this, but I do put the idea out there for consideration as to what the best means is of utilizing the tool for ministry.

      In retrospect, dividing the profiles was one of the best decisions I made early on. It gives me a tremendous amount of freedom to minister to both the Christians and the non-Christians according to their primary needs. And let me tell you that I put a whole lot more effort into reaching out to the non-Christians. That may change in the future if and when I come into a position of having more influence in face to face discipleship relationships once again.

      I have the advantage of having a married name and a maiden name. People know me under both names. I use my married name for my “on display” public platform for non-Christians. A Google search will dig me up under this name. I have buried my maiden name account and made it unsearchable. People ask to be my friends on that account because they found me through a mutual Christian friend or because I sent these Christians to that account after a word of explanation.

      I should also say that I have gravitated towards finding and cultivating FB friendships with people I know in real life. There are a few exceptions on the outreach oriented account with people I have never met, but most people know me in real life. This helps to keep things grounded in authenticity. It has to do with my entry posted above that deals with social media being an authentic extension of oneself. I don’t permit Christians on the outreach account unless I am fairly certain that they will behave themselves and will actually contribute positively in the witnessing environment.

      I hope this makes things a little clearer.I’m learning all the time about digital mission and about being a more effective witness for Jesus.

      • http://delicious.com/catherinesavard1http://midnightoil.squarespace.com/ Catherine Savard

        And I just committed the cardinal sin of posting the “way-too-long” comment. Oh well.

        • http://delicious.com/catherinesavard1http://midnightoil.squarespace.com/ Catherine Savard

          Here is another “source of authority” in FB evangelistic use who recommends the divided profile: http://www.internetevangelismday.com/facebook-evangelism.php

          If you are not familiar with the Internet Evangelism Day site/blog/newsletter, I recommend it as an instructive source on a wide range of topics pertaining to Internet evangelism.

  • http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_kelly_on_the_next_5_000_days_of_the_web.html David Pezzoli

    It’s really cool to see a discussion on how to effectively use tools that God has allowed us to utilize in order to further His work of building His Kingdom through us. We have only just begun this journey. I encourage everyone to think outside the box, out where people are dreaming of what could be.

    I think it’s funny when people say that engaging people online is limited in some way, as if we can’t see real life-change through ministering to people on the web. It’s almost like saying that when I buy something on e-bay that it doesn’t really effect my bank account…

    in the future, we may not even be using words like “online” anymore because the internet will be so integrated with our lives that it may become almost indistinguishable.

    check this out. http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_kelly_on_the_next_5_000_days_of_the_web.html

  • Anne-Marie

    Facebook allows people who do not yet know Jesus to discover how people who know Jesus live and communicate with one another, and lets them overhear us in a way that is impossible elsewhere, because so many of us live in 2 segregated communities, with no crossover. Where else can non-Christians discover so easily how normal christians are, yet different?
    I think the challenge for us is to help Christians see that this medium is a looking-glass and realize that every word, every thought, every link communicates the quality and depth of our discipleship (or the superficiality of our faith.) We are witnesses on facebook just by being there, but the quality of our witness… now that is a different issue.

    • http://twitter.com/ChelseaMorrell Chelsea Morrell

      I totally agree.

  • http://purpleclick.crusade.sg Lay Kuan

    I don’t have the technical know-hows to start a website for my church, but Facebook lets me create a group/fanpage that helps my church have an online presence. It is easy to update and share links.

    I’m still getting members to have Facebook accounts and to help post on both the group and fanpage. They are used for different purposes: group for only church regulars, so family news, sermon outlines are posted there. The fanpage is more for publicity for events, etc. that we can invite all our friends to, e.g. an event like a car boot sale or a Maundy Thursday service. The fanpage event invitation can be sent even to those who do not have a Facebook account.

    I would love to hear more on how I can use these more effectively. Like… the offer to pray, etc. What kind of stuff/free apps to post/use. Thanks!

    I am given the opportunity on 2 May to share with my church on my ministry in e-mentoring, and will share about using the Facebook as well. We plan to help people set up accounts on the spot!

  • @kicktheball

    Wow, this is fantastic! Way to go Brian, and all participants. I am currently working on a master’s degree in comm & leadership and we are discussing this very thing – the nature, merits and demerits of digital communication.

    Here are a couple observations, as Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” So as Brendon posted re: Flickering Pixels, the way we communicate absolutely impacts the message. We would do well to keep that in mind and work diligently to see that we communicate exactly what we intend to communicate!

    More as an aside, I do like the Roman Road analogy, but I bet there were plenty of people who weren’t so impressed as Rome used it to trample and control them. Maybe that analogy is more prophetic than Steve knows. Internet cookies, google analytics, etc are making personal privacy thing of the past. Just sayin’.

  • http://synchopat.multiply.com Patrick Ng

    A lot of my instances ‘counseling’ others in and outside ministry time were done via MSN, FB Chats, etc… So I vouch for the effectiveness and ‘realness’ of connecting with the lost or even fellow believers via social networking sites.

    One great advantage that makes this sort of connection (whether it’s discussing abt the Christian faith witha pre-believer or encouraging a bro-in-Christ) is the time and privacy it affords both ends to think clearly before answering, thus people dun feel put on the spot. A friend and colleague of mine said that’s the reason why he likes to coord abt work event online. Not dissing the effectiveness of face-to-face engagement, just saying that connecting via social n/working sites is becoming increasing effective, from my personal experience.

    • Anne-Marie

      so true! we think more before writing than before talking… and I have had amazing conversations this way!

    • http://www.chriszaugg.com Chris Zaugg

      TOTALLY agree, Patrick! The evidence is only anecdotal, but as I watch the younger, digitally native generation that currently lives under my roof (my kids!), the difference in face-to-face engagement and online engagement is really only proximity. My kids tell me that they are at LEAST as connected online, maybe more because of the “thinking clearly” principle you outlined.

      Those of us who are older can moralize that face-to-face is better, but people relate the way they relate….and we need to get on board!

    • http://synchopat.multiply.com Patrick Ng

      Thanx Anne, Thanx Chris… appreciate the resonance.

      Another thing I that i was just reminded off that I didn’t mention earlier is how something as simple as LIKE-ing something some one put on their FB statuses and Twits, or leaving short comments, is so great for building ‘bridges’ btw friends. It’s these little intangible relationship-boosters that often opened up doors for more in-depth discussion and ministry.

      I’ve had people private-message me and bared everything abt what they were going thru (struggles with sins, marital struggles, spiritual walk struggles, etc), just cos I ‘LIKEd” their statuses or made a small comment showing care.

      In may ways, on social networking sites as in real life, sometimes it’s the little things that matter, and open doors.

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