Seems that over the past few days I have heard a couple of interesting comments in regards to Facebook from some pastor-type colleagues.
"Are People REALLY using Facebook?"
"I had no idea how cool Facebook is."
So . . . is Facebook just the latest fad? Could be. Does it really matter in the whole scheme of the cause of Christ? Probably not. Should all pastor-type at least look at it? Probably.
Like any kind of tool for social interaction, one must always balance one needs, wants, context etc. to determine how much energy is put into any particular method or strategy. While I am attracted the shiny new things, I understand that contextually the place where I serve has a very high percentage that are highly plugged in, hardly a day goes by when I am not interacting with some member via eMail, IM, FaceBook, MySpace or some other random electronic media. Very cool serving in a place like this for someone who is fed as well by these types of interactions.
So what? Should everyone be so plugged in? Of course not, but . . .
The BUT for me is that if we take our context seriously – cultural and congregational – we must meet folks where they are, even if that is on Facebook, IM, texting, etc. Sure, not everyone is on Facebook or other such networks, but I think too many pastors/churches are so reactionary to any kind of technological interaction that we end up cutting off our noses to spite our faces. Just to have some kind of holier than thou position against all the silly electronic culture, we are in so many ways guaranteeing our own demise in many areas of the world and culture.
If we are serious about reaching the current and future generation of people, at least don’t be anti-electronic-interaction.
Now I am not talking about churches needed to all be teched out, use multimedia, carry iPhones, etc. There are fiscal limitations to other technological church usages. What I am talking about is the more widespread use of social media that have fewer economic limitations. We can no longer hide behind a "Those poor people are not plugged in, so in solidarity, I am not going be plugged in either." Sure that does happen in some contexts, but PLEASE, if you are just anti-technology do NOT hide behind a false solidarity with the poor. I think it is extremely condescending and in so many ways just untrue.
My main point is that we must all examine our motivations and usefulness for engaging or not engaging in social networking. A balance between current context, hopes for the future, skilz and personality will all be determining factors in deciding how much energy and time one puts into this particular area of ministry. That discernment must just be more intentional.
If you want to find out more take a visit over to Wild Apricot Blog where there are some great non-profit resoruces linked as well as her post A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook for Non-Profits. Another good post is the Newbie’s guide to Facebook from Josh Lowensohn.