As someone who has been active on the Internet and using social media tools in ministry for quite awhile, I am not shocked any more when I meet people in ministry who will not or cannot use the Internet and social media as part of their ministry, but I am sad for them and frustrated.
Many in ministry are dependent on their employers, pastors, bishops, directors, etc., to provide the hardware, software, training and access to use the Internet and social media for ministry. When these are not provided, the ministers usually are not motivated to learn this on their own and our Church ministries continue to lag behind the culture. Those who have the skills and are motivated have to settle for doing less, because there are too many obstacles to doing more. There are some innovative leaders who see the potential of the Internet for mission, but it seems that in the Church, these are the exception.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has been gathering facts on the use of the Internet in America since 2000. Their website is a gold mine of facts about usage trends and preferences for both adults and teens. The Project Director, Lee Rainie, and Professor Barry Wellman, Director of Netlab, located at the University of Toronto, co-authored the recently published book, Networked: The New Social Operating System. The following summary of the book appears on their promotional site along with the video below:
Daily life is connected life, its rhythms driven by email, text messages, tweets and Facebook updates. Some worry that this new environment makes us isolated and lonely. But in Networked, Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman show how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making and personal interaction. The new social operating system of “networked individualism” liberates us from the restrictions of tightly knit groups; it also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks.
Here is a short video of Lee Raines describing their analysis of the communication and social revolutions which have recently taken place with the rise of the Internet.
Ministry leaders, take heed. We have a great opportunity here. Not only an opportunity, but an imperative, to use the Internet and social media for education, communication, evangelization, collaboration and relationship building far beyond the walls of our churches and offices. Let’s not hold back! Let’s catch up and move forward! That’s what I think. What about you?
I want to acknowledge that I learned about this video and book from a Facebook post by my friend Mike Hayes (author of Googling God) who wrote his own blog article about it. Thanks, Mike–social networking at work.