YWTD #44 – Social Media and Ministry

<strong>Tip: Social Media and Ministry, how are you using it today?
</strong>
Everyone’s using Social Media. Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Myspace. Youtube. The list goes on and on.

Yesterday, I shared an experience I had when I learned how distracting social media can be during the work day. Now, I wasn’t slamming social media or the use of it. Like I said, I love social media.

Over the last 10 years plus, Social Media has become an integral part of our lives. Today, you can get most media outlets to your smart phone allowing you to be in constant contact 24 hours a day. This can be a great thing. Or, as I said in yesterdays post, it can be a huge distraction.

But if you can control it, social media can be a powerful tool for your ministry. I am amazed at just how many students are acquiring smart phones. Even my own teen is chomping at the bit for his first iPhone. With this being the trend, we now have that much more access to our students.

Many of our students live on Facebook, posting daily, if not hourly. Their life is being lived out publicly, status update by statue update. For us this creates an opportunity to step into a new world with our students.

I have been using Facebook since 2007. In the five years, how I use Facebook has changed. Where once it was the place to post albums from the recent youth event, schedule and promote upcoming activities, or leave encouraging words on students walls, I find that these are not as beneficial as they were six years ago. I’m find that fewer and fewer of my students are taking the time to respond to post such as these.

In fact, in general, I think fewer students are using Facebook as they did just a couple of years ago. Sure, their still posting status updates, pictures, and rants about unfair parents teachers, and friends. But when it comes to connecting students to youth group activities, I wonder if this isn’t a tool that has run it’s course.

So how do I use Facebook as a youth pastor?

This past year I have started abandoning the Facebook method of outreach and communication. And instead, I’m looking for new ways to use Facebook as a tool.

<strong>1. Make your home page an accurate profile of who you are.</strong>
I think many still use Facebook to check us out. Students, parents, church leaders, the youth worker down the street… people want to know you. As I make the transition from youth pastor to lead pastor, I expect people to want to know something about me. So, I have started updating my profile with current content. I have changed how I post and what I post. As I become a pastor who is also a husband and a father, I want to be an example of what it means to be a godly-husband/father. I am the face of our new church, and that comes with a responsibility.

<strong>2. Recognize the platform that Facebook and Social Media provide.
</strong>Because social media is so dominant in our culture, there is opportunity for youth workers and pastors to use Facebook as a tool to stretch our reach. While some of ways we use social media are not as of affective as they once may have been, there is still a use for sites like Facebook. However, how it can be used is going to be more specific to your ministry and how you see your students/church using. Then tailor your usage to benefit your audience.

<strong>3. As a redemptive tool.
</strong>A couple of weeks ago, I found myself caught up in some fun banter over two opposing teams facing each other in the first round of playoff games. While the conversation back and forth was meant to be fun… little poke here at your team, a little poke back at my team… I wondered how this might look to those outside the conversation. Not to mention that some of the posts were less fun, but down right nasty. Looking at the posts, I was convicted. How was this redeeming? The truth is, it wasn’t.

And yet, Facebook and other media outlets offer us a unique way to share the redeeming love of Christ. I want to use my social media as a way to express the greatest love this world has ever seen. I want to point people to the cross and then to Christ. I want to build the kingdom up for God’s glory, not given it a black eye for my own prides sake. I want to discover the redemptive possibility that presents itself daily as millions of people check in every morning.

How about you? How are you using your social media outlets? Are you seeing a change in how students are using it? Are you using it differently? What changes have you made? Or have you already abandoned this way of reaching students?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below!

Thanks.

– ywtd

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