Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Adapt or Die

 It’s all change as some churches in my local area are moving into the twenty first century. Websites with links to Facebook and Twitter accounts are now ‘de rigeur’ in the modernising church. Church leaders are learning that unless they adapt their means of communication to the modern world the decline of faith in the western world will continue.
In common with many others across the globe, local church leaders are waking up to the power of social media. The statistics are staggering: 500 million Facebook users, with 50 % using it daily. There are millions of Twitter users with thousands joining daily.
In a recent article entitled ‘The Digitally Connected Church’, published in ‘Leadership’ journal, Nicole Unice and Jenny Cartron describe how social media can enhance the effectiveness of ministry when used for information, innovation and mobilisation.
Websites and the Facebook pages have already proved very effective in publicising events on an on-going basis resulting in increased participation in church events. Sermon summaries, power point presentations and Bible study notes are now available for download by the committed and the curious.
Unice and Carton describe an excellent piece of innovation in an American church which could easily be adapted to form part of a local church input into the new and evolving school curriculum (Curriculum for Excellence)..........
“One evening a high school student bounded up to me. ‘I've got an idea,’ he declared. A few hours later, he had created a Facebook group challenging members of the youth group to read a chapter from Proverbs each day and post their reflections on their own blogs or through a note on Facebook. Over the next month, I watched as students from different churches shared community and encouragement through the "Proverbs Project" Facebook group. ........The best part was that this experience was student-created and led—with no extra burden on staff. I was learning as much as they were as I watched the passion and initiative of one student multiply into a month-long experience in spiritual growth.”
The power of social media to mobilise is immense. In the USA when floods hit Tennessee in 2010, one church used social media to mobilise over 2,000 people in 24 hours to bring relief to the victims.
Jesus gave the church a mission when he said, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Jesus was highly skilled at communicating spiritual truths in ways that connected with people. The Apostle Paul also worked hard at being culturally relevant.
Used wisely, social media is a powerful tool for Christians serious about their mission. Used by churches as a means of merely promoting ‘more of the same’ .............no thanks !  

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