A few weeks ago, I was corresponding back and forth with a friend of mine and he suggested I explore a topic. He asked the question, “How is social media affecting the church universal?” I thought it was a great question and have had some experience of my own with it. Although I am far from being an expert, it’s experience nonetheless, and experience that has shaped the way that I approach things within the local church.
A few years back, Shane Hipps wrote a pair of books addressing the topic of technology and the church. The books were titled, “The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church” and, “Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith.” If this is a topic that interests you, I would highly recommend picking up Hipps’ books and even doing a search for him on Google. He has a lot of worthwhile things to say in the area of technology.
Once upon a time, as social media began to emerge on the scene, it was dealt with like so many other new inventions, with skepticism and dubiousness. Many people saw it as another way to waste time and a means of distracting us from the important tasks and opportunities that lie before us. This past February, Facebook celebrated its 10th year. While it had originally been targeted at college age students, the demographic of the social network has changed considerably over the decade of its existence. It is reported that 3 million teenage users have dropped Facebook within the last few years (article here). In fact, this article gives a good description of the primary demographic to which the various forms of social media are appealing.
All that being said, to ignore the impact that social media has had not only on our culture, but specifically on the landscape of the church universal would be foolish. While churches have been renowned for living in the past, to continue to operate in a 1950s culture devoid of the various widespread forms of communication which now exist, including social networks, is the equivalent to signing your own death certificate.
I have seen the power of social media used for good and used for evil. I have seen how it has benefited my own local faith community. So, for a few days next week, I want to simply unpack my own experience with social media. How has it impacted me?
My own faith community has been impacted by social media on a large scale in three areas: The Feedback Loop, Keeping Up With Your Peeps, and The Ripple Effect. Over a few days next week I will hit each one of those separately, so I would love for you to come back next week and visit, share your thoughts, and share mine with others if you think that they are worthwhile.