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Social Networks and the Church

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Ministry Today magazine asked me for a few quotes for an upcoming article for their publication of faith and blogs. Here's their questions and my replies:

1. What are some specific examples from your ministry where social networking has helped you connect with people? Just this afternoon, one of our worship leaders was trying to find a musician for the band, and she said, "I texted and MySpaced her, so I'm sure I'll hear back from her any second." As if by magic, within a few minutes she had her reply and figured out the bass player for the weekend. Social networking isn't a tool to youth pastors - it is a significant part of the student's world.

2. One of the strengths of Facebook is how it "latches on" to the user with applications and deeper features than MySpace -- yet, MySpace is still more popular. Is one tool better than another? Facebook is definitely a cleaner, sharper face on it - but MySpace has critical mass. Every student has a MySpace, though Facebook is growing rapidly as well. For someone just starting out I would suggest steering clear of MySpace because it is so easily full of spam and has so much advertising, but at the end of the day I think both are really the best option.

3. What advice do you have for other ministries thinking of using MySpace/Facebook? One of the big benefits of these tools is that they are in the real world. These aren't Christian versions - these are the real deal. While that brings along its own share of problems and concerns, it puts the church out there with real people, instead of giving in to the temptation to be so self-focused. When you Google your church or student ministry, I want my MySpace, blog, Facebook and official site all at the top.

4. What are some of the dangers in using social networking? I think the most obvious one is that what you see on the surface is not all there is. Because users can private message and talk "behind the scenes" you've got to be careful to keep everything in the open as much as possible. The other potential problem is for your spaces to be "spammed" and filled with compromised content or useless information. You've GOT to check your family of sites on a regular basis if they're going to work. They create some extra work, but I believe they're well worth it.

5. Say a ministry doesn't feel comfortable with social networks, what other options are out there? Everyone has to figure out what is right for their ministry, so I think not using these sites is fine. I do think a church without at least a basic web presence is really missing out, and if it is at all possible to blog and keep content fresh and timely, people can really get an inside look at the church without even stepping through the doors. At the end of the day, these are tools to bring people to Jesus - if a ministry believes this is a tool that is effective in that mission, then by all means jump in.


posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:35 PM |

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At 1/03/2008, Anonymous Tony Steward said...

Well said! (I would have tried to mix it up with a little Pownce or Twitter action in there though.. lol)


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