The Church and Social Media

Today, the Vernacular Curate has written an interesting post about the interaction between social media and the church.  I recommend reading the whole thing but here is an interesting quote:

98% of Christians, church-goers and other people of faith who will have no inkling about what this is all about. They have heard some of the names on the news, but will have cast them aside in the way that they would anything that held no apparent relevance, or that which had the feeling of fad or voodoo about it. I don’t blame them – but we have a situation where an increasing gulf is developing between social-media aware Christians, and those who are not.

Whilst this is anecdotal, it resonates with the experience of myself and many of my colleagues.  Some of my colleagues have even said that “there is no point engaging with Facebook/Twitter/Whatever as none of ‘our people’ are on it”.  I can understand why this seems to make sense.  In The Church(TM) the population is becoming increasingly elderly.  I can understand why it would seem to make no sense to engage with something that many (not all before you start writing letters to me in little green handwriting) elderly people do not engage with.

Any organisation that seeks relevance in this age must embrace that ages’s self-expression.

Earlier today I posted a blog about QR readers.  I wonder at what point The Church(TM) will notice that everyone else has been using them for years.  I suspect that we will have a training course in 2017 about how to use them.

Does it matter that a poster has something small and insignificant in the corner that “most of our people don’t understand”?  Who is to say who our promotional material is going to be seen by?  What does it matter that there is a convenient link to a social networking site secreted in the corner?  If people don’t know what it is, does it matter.  For those who do, who we freely admit are outside of the ingroup, “our people”, is it not an easy way of connecting in a relevant way with people?

I wonder what would happen if I printed a massive QR code the size of the outdoor notice board that linked to a Facebook Group.  Perhaps people would actually look at it and wonder what it is about.  I suspect that it may have more of an impact than:

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9 Responses

  1. Thank you for working with this stuff in light of my modest outpouring. I am every sympathetic with the technophobic among us, but wonder if baby and bathwater isn’t going one in many communities

    Cheers
    D

  2. This is a great post, and a discussion we’re seeking to have here at #medialit11: http://bigbible.org.uk/2011/06/the-digital-revolution-medialit11/.
    Bex

    P.S. Which plugin are you using for comments?

  3. @David – I think a lot of people don’t see the benefits of things that they themselves don’t/can’t/are unwilling to understand. To ignore the social media revolution does not result in death or serious injury. I suspec that it may result in shutting up shop and turning off the lights for many local churches though.

    @Bex – Thanks for retweeting this. I’ll pop across and have a look at the discussion.

    I’m not using any plugin for comments, this is a wordpress hosted blog. They recently had a big overhaul adding Facebook user and Twitter user comments. Makes blogging a lot more accessible. Blogger are a bane of my life. It never seems to accept openid, it often deletes comments I make and fires them into the great unknown. At least WordPress seem to be making an effert to engage with other social media. Perhaps they are learning from Myspace’s mistakes!

  4. Thank you, this is a really interesting post. I think you are spot on about the reluctance of many people to deal with what is unfamiliar, especially if they are elderly, but I suspect it has always been so. However, this must be the first age in which the Church has not been at the forefront of technological adaptation, and maybe we should be asking ourselves why not. Finally, a confession: I recently had some cards and flyers printed and decided not to add QR codes because I know we’ll get asked, ‘what are those things, mistakes?’ Coward rather than a luddite, I think.

  5. Thanks Sr,

    On reflection you highlight something important about the way the church has operated through the ages. The cutting edge of art, music, science, education, welfare etc etc was always pushed by the church. What has caused the church to retreat from innovation in the last two centuries or so?

    Is it the ‘perception’ of being marginalised or persecuted that Trevor Phillips was talking about over the weekend that causes this do you think?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8583922/Trevor-Phillips-wades-into-debate-on-religion-in-modern-society.html

  6. I so utterly agree with this post. Churches need to realise that their own website, no matter how good, is not going to be the initial tool that enables anyone from (say) 13-30 to engage with the parts of the church that they need.

    Sure, a good, attractive website is still essential these days – but that still needs to be a way for people to engage the church, not for the church to spout one-way information to them.

    ” I suspect that we will have a training course in 2017 about how to use them.”

    ^^Hilarious and tragically true at once. And your last paragraph likewise.

  7. Hi there, thank you for this insightful post. I definitely agree with you and am trying to work out a lot of these issues on my blog as well, http://www.adambowersmedia.com. The generational point is well taken. I’m afraid social media in the church will become just another “contemporary worship” debate. I think we need to be creative in changing the conversation surrounding social media in the church from “new technology” to connecting with people in new and exciting ways, and becoming a part of others’ conversations, and not just waiting for others to come to the church.

  8. […] with the increasing gulf developing between social-media aware Christians, and those who are not. Robb picks up on this […]

  9. Thanks for the great article! I’ve been exploring the Church and Social Media recently and am encouraging Churches in the area to engage with it. Hopefully my blog will encourage them! http://www.tithebarnabergavenny.blogspot.com

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